The Peopling of the Americas Theories of First People’s Origins The Peopling of the Americas • What different views exist regarding origins? • What are traditional archaeological theories of origins? • How are these archaeological theories being challenged? • What are some of the ethical concerns in researching origins? Two Views of Origins: Archaeological • Before 1990 archaeologists and historians agreed the first inhabitants came from Asia across the Bering Strait when sea levels were lower (~13 500 years BP) • Since 1990 many questions surfaced contradicting this theory: Shared plant life, structures, diversity of native languages and so on fostered this questioning Two Views of Origins: Aboriginal Perspectives • Many First Peoples see Canada as their homeland • They believe they have been here since “Time Immemorial.” • Aboriginal creation stories vary, but share one thing in common – Aboriginal peoples have no bond with any other place Gathering Archaeological Evidence • Archaeologists use artifacts as evidence to help understand past societies • Artifacts can deteriorate with age therefore the method known as radiocarbon dating is used • This process measures the age of carbon in artifacts and therefore tells how old an artifact is • Tools, utensils and weapons are all artifacts archaeologists use to learn many things about the way people lived Gathering Evidence • Evidence of Paleo-Indian is found in their unique tools • DNA analysis is now being used, however is quite expensive • The earliest evidence came in the form of spear points • Style of spear points determined age and culture Traditional Archaeological Theory: The Clovis Period • 11 500 – 11 000 BP • Many researchers believe hunters used spears to hunt some mammals into extinction • Archaeologists believed in this model so much they virtually stopped digging any deeper Traditional Archaeological Theory: The Plano Period • 10 000 – 7 000 years BP • Large mammals like the camel and mammoth disappeared around this time • During this time the Plano peoples – descendants of Paleo-Indian began hunting bison • Change in spear and arrowhead design came with the Plano peoples Linguistic Evidence • Archaeology does not provide all the answers • Linguistics show how language of cultures evolves over time • Language can explain culture, its interrelations and its differences Linguistic Evidence • Linguistics shows that the more diversity there is in language – the more time has passed • North America is one of the most linguistically diverse areas suggesting that First Peoples arrived here long before the Clovis period Physical Anthropology • Study past by examining human remains (“CSI Historians”) • Believe there were several migrations of people to the Americas • They also believe early peoples came from different places at different times Theories of First People’s Origins: The Land Route Geologists believe during the last Ice Age (Pleistocene Era) sea levels were lower across the Bering Strait (between Alaska and East Asia) It is widely believed that many peoples may have migrated across this land bridge into N.A. between 13 500 – 50 000 years BP Theories of First People’s Origins: The Land Route • Geologists believe that during the last Ice Age, called the Pleistocene Era, sea levels were lower across the Bering Strait than they are today. • A vast grassy plain called Beringia, or land bridge linked what is now called Siberia with Alaska. • It is believed that at least 13,500-50,000 years ago early peoples migrated across to North America. • Similar fossils discovered on both continents prove that large grazing animals – bison, caribou, horses, mammoths and musk oxen migrated across. Early peoples probably followed the herds of animals. • A stone tool radiocarbon dated 10200 BP makes it possible that a Pacific Coastal route was taken. • BP – Before Present Theories of First People’s Origins: The Pacific Route • This theory suggests people first came to N.A. by watercraft over the Pacific Ocean • Fossil evidence in the Northwest Coast of sea and land wildlife suggests there were enough natural resources for people to survive • There has been little archaeological exploration in this area due to the belief it was covered by glaciers Theories of First People’s Origins: The Pacific Route • Suggests that the First Peoples crosses the Pacific by watercraft. • Fossil evidence of sea and land mammals and other wildlife dated 16800 years BP has been found along the Northwest Coast • May have inhabited South America first then moved on to North America • Genetic links Theories of First People’s Origins: An Atlantic Route • Both land bridge and Pacific theories are challenged by researchers who argue that early Asians didn’t have technology that matched those of the Clovis period • They’ve found evidence showing more similarities to technology used along the Northern coast of Spain • There is also DNA evidence linking Aboriginals to Europeans and not Asians • This suggests First Peoples may have come across the Atlantic Theories of First People’s Origins: An Atlantic Route • Clovis projectile points are more similar to Solutrean points – found 16500-22000 years BP where what is now the Northern Coast of Spain. • Solutrean – an ancient culture of Western Europe dating from 21000- 18000 years ago • Genetic markers linking Aboriginal Peoples to Europeans but not to Asians A combination of all three theories would explain the diversity of the First Peoples of the Americas.