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Jennings ch.2.doc

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University of Guelph
ANTH 3650
Edward Hedican

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- vive • 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 • 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 glaciers • 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 Environment • 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, lakes) • In central & eastern Texas, what is now grassland is described as having been an open woodland deciduous forest with an understory of grasses, herbs and shrubs until 16 000 BP • The blue ridge mountains of Appalachia were covered with tundra and caribou fed in the valleys • Environmental changes after 12 000 BP were rapid and extreme, • Changes in climate were correlated with withdrawal and final disappearance of the continental ice Extinction • One favorite common sense explanation is that changing climates and vegetation altered the regional ecology so greatly that the habitat no longer favored species • Reduction in precipitation would rapidly reduce the amount of coarse grass and reeds available for the bands of Pleistocene elephant • Another explanation is again the biological one • A deteriorating environment would ensure the disappearance of the species at a very rapid rate because it would lead to a minus birth rate • Disease has also been invoked as a cause • All of the theories of extinction have been debated for a century , but none are ar- g
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