When did people first appear in North America?
How did they get here?/Where did they come
What was their environment and culture like?
Late Paleolithic Migrations
The last lands to inhabit: Glacial conditions and
Migration to New Frontiers
 Sumatra and Borneo
before 20,000 B.P. connected by land bridge to SE
People could walk to new areas.
Sea level was much lower because water taken up in
polar ice regions.
Approximately 120 meters lower than at present.
Oldest Australians-35 kya
How did they get there and where did they come
 Could not walk; even at glacial max., water too
 Invention of water transport (boats), modern
computer simulations have shown that at certain
times of the year it would take seven days to go
from Borneo/Java to Australia/New Guinea (55
miles of open water).
Long Chronology (PreClovis)
Humans in many migrations in New World, as
early as 30-40 kya.
Small groups, largely a wood and bone tool industry.
Also chopper and scraper industry.
Postulated due to recent finds of sites which date to
before 15 kya.
Monte Verde, Chile excavated by Tom Dillehay
One area of site dates to ca. 13 kya houses,
preserved by an overlayer of peat. Wood, bone, skin,
meat, botanicals are extremely well preserved.
Ambiguous lower level of three possible cultural
features and some stone tool fragments dated to 33
kya. Affiliation unclear, but more recent research
suggests early dates very compelling.
Monte Verde, Chile
Monte Verde, Chile
Monte Verde, Chile
Monte Verde Culture
North American Sites
 Meadowcroft
Rockshleter, PA (16-19.5
kya) artifacts include stone blades,
scrapers and knives.
 Wilson Butte Cave, Idaho (14.5 kya)
 Cactus Hill, VA (17 kya)
Meadowcroft Rockshelter
Meadowcroft Rockshelter
Cactus Hill, VA
How did they get here?
 Bering
Land Bridge
 Pacific Coast
 Atlantic Coast
 South American Re-Entry
 Africa
Bering Land Bridge
 Crossed
during glacial maximum (last was
18-11 kya)
 Came through ice-free corridor between
Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets.
 Continued down into North America and
South America.
Pacific Coastal Entry
The coastal entry hypothesis opens for an
earlier date for the spread of human beings into
the Americas, as this mode of settlement would
not require an ice-free land corridor.
 The Arlington Springs Woman, found on Santa
Rosa Island, has recently been carbon dated to
13,000 years. Her presence on the island at this
early date is consistent with the hypothesis that
migrations into the new world took place by sea.
 Such coastal migration also opens up for a new
set of possible routes and entry times.
Asian-Coastal Western North
Arlington Springs Woman
One of Califlornia's biggest recent archaeological discoveries occurred not in the field,
but in the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, where this block of earth from a
site on Santa Rosa Island had been in storage since 1960. Bones sealed within the
sediments have proven even older than the site's original investigators suspected.
Asian-Coastal Western North
Tool found
In coastal Pacific
Atlantic Coastal Route
Atlantic Route
With much of the world's water having been evaporated and
converted to ice, sea levels during the last Ice Age were as much as
400 feet below today's levels.
An expanded coastal region probably extended from the Iberian
Peninsula in southwestern France and northern Spain to the
southern tip of Ireland. In addition, the Grand Banks, a series of
submerged plateaus extending several hundred miles off the coast
of Newfoundland, probably were above water.
The geological conditions meant the prehistoric travelers would
have needed to pull off only a 1,500-mile Atlantic Ocean crossing
along sheltered ice sheets teeming with easily hunted marine
mammals and fish, Bradley and Stanford said.
Stanford noted that 50,000 years ago or more, humans had become
skilled enough at open sea travel that they were able to arrive on the
continent of Australia. They most likely used small, animal-skin
boats, taking advantage of favorable sea currents.
Clovis vs. Solutrean
Different shapes, but similar technology
Inuit Skin boats
Three wave theory
 People
came in three waves of migration
Amerinds (>21,000+)
NaDene (ancestors of Navajo, Apache, and
Dine) (12,000)
Eskimo-Aleut (6,000)
Evidence for 3-wave
 Biological
Evidence-Dental Patterns
 Very few skeletal remains dating to this
time period (>9,000 B.P.).
Browns Valley, Wyoming
Horn Shelter, Texas
Hourglass Cave, Colorado
Spirit Cave, Nevada
Wizard Beach, Nevada
Gore Creek, British Columbia
Kennewick Man, Washington
Genetic Evidence for 3-Wave
Genetic research-mtDNA and JC Virus.
mtDNA-mitochondria passed down by
women, shows relationships.
All modern, native americans are
descended from a single group of
But, earlier migrations of people from
Europe could have died out.
JC Virus and Modern Native
When human beings arrived in North America about 30,000 years
ago, they brought language, fire, flint tools and skin tents. They also
brought something they didn't know they had--a tiny microbe called
JC virus sequestered in their kidneys.
Researchers are now using the virus to bolster the hypothesis that
American Indians are the distant offspring of those migrants, and
that they came from eastern Asia on a land bridge across the Bering
The strain of JC carried by modern-day Navajos, as it happens, is
nearly identical to that carried by modern residents of Tokyo. It's
somewhat different from the virus carried by the Chamorro, the
aboriginal inhabitants of the South Pacific island of Guam. It's very
different, however, from the virus carried by West Africans, East
Africans and Europeans.
All in all, the evidence suggests the Navajo and the Japanese are
closely related to each other, and are related (but more distantly) to
the Chamorro. All are descended from the same prehistoric
population of eastern Asians.
Evidence for 3-wave
Linguistic evidence
 Glottochronology
Words change gradually but at steady rate
Comparison of contemporary native languages can
give a time frame for their first divergence, and can
say reconstruct proto-language
Linguistic evidence. Joseph Greenberg
suggested three separate migrations:
Amerind before 11,000 BP,
Na-Denes (Athabaskan) ca. 9000 Bp,
and AleutEskimo about 4000 Bp.
What was their environment?
There were three short-faced bear species, all larger,
two specialized as super carnivores (one about 7-8 feet
at the shoulder-Arctodus simus), and one as a super
vegetarian convergent with Europe's cave bear.
In addition there were true lions, only twice the mass of
African specimen, two species of large sabre toothed
cats, jaguars, large cheetah-like running cats and big
dire wolves.
Remains of some of the mammals and birds present in
the Los Angeles valley between 10,000 and 40,000
years ago -- including thousands of sabre-toothed cats -can be seen at the La Brea Tarpits.
Extinct Pleistocene Mammals
Dire Wolf
Short faced Bear
Saber tooth Cat
What was their culture?
 Small
 Probably very mobile
 Hunters and gatherers
Sometimes megafauna, but probably more
often medium and small mammals, birds and
 Stone,
bone and wood tool industry that
was different from later cultures.

Pre-Clovis - SUNY Oneonta