The Settlement of the American Continents: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Human Biogeography

The Settlement of the American Continents: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Human Biogeography


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When many scholars are asked about early human settlement in the Americas, they might point to a handful of archaeological sites as evidence. Yet the process was not a simple one, and today there is no consistent argument favoring a particular scenario for the peopling of the New World.

This book approaches the human settlement of the Americas from a biogeographical perspective in order to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms and consequences of this unique event. It considers many of the questions that continue to surround the peopling of the Western Hemisphere, focusing not on sites, dates, and artifacts but rather on theories and models that attempt to explain how the colonization occurred.

Unlike other studies, this book draws on a wide range of disciplines—archaeology, human genetics and osteology, linguistics, ethnology, and ecology—to present the big picture of this migration. Its wide-ranging content considers who the Pleistocene settlers were and where they came from, their likely routes of migration, and the ecological role of these pioneers and the consequences of colonization. Comprehensive in both geographic and topical coverage, the contributions include an explanation of how the first inhabitants could have spread across North America within several centuries, the most comprehensive review of new mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome data relating to the colonization, and a critique of recent linguistic theories.

Although the authors lean toward a conservative rather than an extreme chronology, this volume goes beyond the simplistic emphasis on dating that has dominated the debate so far to a concern with late Pleistocene forager adaptations and how foragers may have coped with a wide range of environmental and ecological factors. It offers researchers in this exciting field the most complete summary of current knowledge and provides non-specialists and general readers with new answers to the questions surrounding the origins of the first Americans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816532827
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 290
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

C. Michael Barton is professor of anthropology at Arizona State University.

Geoffrey A. Clark is regents’ professor of anthropology at Arizona State University.

David R. Yesner is professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Georges A. Pearson is adjunct assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas.

Table of Contents

1An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Long-Term Human Biogeography and the Pleistocene Colonization of the Americas1
IThe First American Settlers9
2An Anthropological Genetic View of the Peopling of the New World11
3Peopling of the New World: A Comparative Craniofacial View28
4Evaluating Historical Linguistic Evidence for Ancient Human Communities in the Americas39
5The Concept of Clovis and the peopling of North America49
6A Review of Bioarchaeological Thought on the Peopling of the New World64
IIThe Trail to the Americas77
7Rapid Migrations by Arctic Hunting Peoples: Clovis and Thule79
8Pan-American Paleoindian Dispersals and the Origins of Fishtail Projectile Points as Seen through the Lithic Raw-Material Reduction Strategies and Tool-Manufacturing Techniques at the Guardiria Site, Turrialba Valley, Costa Rica85
9Deconstructing the North Atlantic Connection103
10Invented Traditions and the Ultimate American Origin Myth: In the Beginning ... There Was an Ice-Free Corridor113
IIIThe Land and People Transformed121
11Modeling the Initial Colonization of the Americas: Issues of Scale, Demography, and Landscape Learning123
12The Ecology of Human Colonization in Pristine Landscapes138
13Beyond "Big": Gender, Age, and Subsistence Diversity in Paleoindian Societies162
14Early Paleoindians as Estate Settlers: Archaeological, Ethnographic, and Evolutionary Insights into the Peopling of the New World173
15Late Pleistocene Extinctions through Second-Order Predation177
16Megafauna, Paleoindians, Petroglyphs, and Pictographs of the Colorado Plateau189
17Peopling of the Americas and Continental Colonization: A Millennial Perspective196
About the Editors273
About the Contributors275

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