First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America

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University of California Press, May 27, 2009 - Social Science - 464 pages
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More than 12,000 years ago, in one of the greatest triumphs of prehistory, humans colonized North America, a continent that was then truly a new world. Just when and how they did so has been one of the most perplexing and controversial questions in archaeology. This dazzling, cutting-edge synthesis, written for a wide audience by an archaeologist who has long been at the center of these debates, tells the scientific story of the first Americans: where they came from, when they arrived, and how they met the challenges of moving across the vast, unknown landscapes of Ice Age North America. David J. Meltzer pulls together the latest ideas from archaeology, geology, linguistics, skeletal biology, genetics, and other fields to trace the breakthroughs that have revolutionized our understanding in recent years. Among many other topics, he explores disputes over the hemisphere's oldest and most controversial sites and considers how the first Americans coped with changing global climates. He also confronts some radical claims: that the Americas were colonized from Europe or that a crashing comet obliterated the Pleistocene megafauna. Full of entertaining descriptions of on-site encounters, personalities, and controversies, this is a compelling behind-the-scenes account of how science is illuminating our past.
 

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Contents

1 Overture
1
2 The Landscape of Colonization
23
3 From Paleoliths to Paleoindians
63
4 The PreClovis Controversy and its Resolution
95
5 NonArchaeological Answers to Archaelogical Questions
137
6 American Origins
183
7 What Do You Do When No Ones Been There Before?
209
Plate Inserts
238
8 Clovis Adaptations and Pleistocene Extinctions
239
9 Settling In
281
10 When Past and Present Collide
321
Further Reading
345
Notes
349
References
385
Index
421
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About the author (2009)

David J. Meltzer is Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in the Department of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of Folsom: New Archaeological Investigations of a Classic Paleoindian Bison Kill (UC Press) and Search for the First Americans, among other books.

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