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ANTH 3650 Lecture Notes - Aurignacian, Pelvis, Paleopathology

Course Code
ANTH 3650
Edward Hedican

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Jennings Chapter 2 - Human Conquest of the New World
The Setting, their people, and their heritage.
The first, unrecorded, but most important event in the history was the peopling of
the American continents
Homo sapiens- modern humans, coming from NE Asia
No one had even attempted to conquer the frozen wastes of Siberia, until 25 000-
30 000 years ago or more
The Northern Chinese men, were hunters of big game, built sturdy huts, and had
invented tailored clothing
We can also be sure that environmental hazards would have ensured that the pop-
ulation was tough, hardy and resistant to disease
If they were able to survive these kinds of environments, they must have been
equipped with appropriate baggage (shelter, clothing, techniques) in order to sur-
Present evidence is that vast ice sheets partially covered the northern areas of both
North America and Eurasia more extensive in NA
Less is known about the preceding Nebraskan, Kansan and Illinoisan advances be-
cause each sheet not only carried earth and stones as it expanded, but also
planed the surface ahead of it, erasing some of the traces of previous ice masses
At the time of the glacial extent the amount of the exposed land area worldwide
would have differed greatly from modern time
The 300 foot drop in sea levels would create the broad land connection with Asia
called Beringia, because the max depth of the Bering sea today is only 180 feet
Another important fact is that central and NW Alaska were probably never covered
in ice
Knowledge of the recent history of the ice comes not only from the geological
record but also from extensive modern observations on the complex dynamics of
today’s Greenland and Antarctic Caps
There was three centers in NA
Labrador (centered in eastern Canada)
Laurentide (Largest, centered in Hudson Bay)
The Cordilleran (western mountains of Canada)
Land entry seemed to be the more reasonable assumption but there wasn’t always
ice there
Remember, that when ice melts, sea level rise

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The story of human entry into the Western world is necessarily confined to the last
half of the Wisconsin ice age, an episode that lasted only 60 000 years
To learn entry, we must know the advanced retreat rhythms of the Wisconsin
the time is set on the basis of Many C assays on buried logs and shells as well as
the painstaking correlation of many complex geological phenomena
with passage from Asia unhindered an easy for thousands of years during the past
60000 years, the timing of entry is established as one or more of the full or partial
emergences of central Beringia
soviet Arctic research is not yet extensive, and the full sequence may not be fully
understood, however only possible time for east movement would be 33 000 BP
the movements during the western and eastern ice sheets during the Wisconsin
has been likened to a giant zipper, closing from the north during advances and
opening form the south during retreats
the geological data reviewed above is augmented by both palynological and pale-
ontological findings
3 premises presented:
Native Americans were of Asian origin 2. Entry may have occurred as early as 40
000 BP but later than 33 000 BP 3. Opportunity for human access to the new
world existed by that date
The climate of all of Berinigia was arctic, but possibly more equable with smaller
extremes of annual temperature than now
The vegetation has been established as primarily a dry, cold steppe
Sedges, grass, and sagebrush were the dominant species although patched of tun-
dra and clumps of dwarfed trees were present
The fauna was the same as in western Beringia: herds of herbivores including
mammoths, horse, bison, ox and giant antelopes
The reconstruction above the periods from 30 000-20000 years ago of Beringian
environment based on evidence from the fossil bones of the extinct mega fauna
and the scores of pollen cores collected in Russia and NA
In the critical millennia, between 20- 10 000 years ago, when the ice reached its fi-
nal max the high western plains were not a sea of grass, but an even richer sa-
vannah with clumps of trees
The entire southern third of the continent was well watered (streams, springs,
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