The First North Americans: An Archaeological Journey

The First North Americans: An Archaeological Journey

by Brian M. Fagan
     
 

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Who were the original North American settlers some fifteen thousand years ago, and where and how did they arrive? What kind of landscape did they find and how did their societies develop? This is the compelling and little-known history that Brian Fagan recounts, drawing on cutting edge research in many disciplines, ranging from archaeology and ethnohistory to

Overview

Who were the original North American settlers some fifteen thousand years ago, and where and how did they arrive? What kind of landscape did they find and how did their societies develop? This is the compelling and little-known history that Brian Fagan recounts, drawing on cutting edge research in many disciplines, ranging from archaeology and ethnohistory to climatology, chemistry, and physics.

Fagan describes the controversies over the first settlement, which probably occurred via Siberia toward the end of the Ice Age, and the debates over the routes used as humans moved south into the heart of the continent. A remarkable diversity of hunter-gatherer societies evolved in the rapidly changing North American environments, and the book explores the ingenious ways in which people adapted to every kind of landscape imaginable, from arctic tundra to open plains and thick woodland.

Editorial Reviews

The Guardian
“A good introduction to the subject.”
Christopher Carr
“A masterful tapestry of diverse pre-Columbian Native North American societies, life, and history. . . . An extraordinarily enjoyable work for layperson and student alike.”
Library Journal
Writing for lay readers, Fagan (anthropology, emeritus, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans) synthesizes theories and archaeological data in his survey of approximately 15,000 years of Native American history and culture in North America. He begins by examining several of the theories concerning the arrival of native peoples on the continent but cautions that the paucity of evidence makes it too early to make definitive statements on the topic. He then traces the evolution of cultures in various locales, beginning with the Paleo-Indians and ending with Native American groups such as the Iroquois and Pueblo at the time of European contact. A particular strength of the work is the author's examination of Mound Builder ritual and cosmology, which are presently hot topics among academics but scarcely mentioned in books aimed at the general public. VERDICT This highly recommended work should be read alongside David J. Meltzer's First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America.—John Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780500289419
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Publication date:
02/07/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
389,581
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Brian M. Fagan, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is a leading authority on world prehistory. His many books include Floods, Famines, and Emperors.

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