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Chapter 13

Textbook Chapter 13 Notes

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Heather Miller

Notes From Reading CHAPTER13:EARLYH OLOCENEHUNTERS ANG ATHERER(307-338) Learning Objectives  Explain where the first inhabitant of the New World Came from and when they arrived.  Identify and contrast the major cultural changes that accompanied the end of the Ice Age in the Americas and the Old World.  Explain why it is unlikely that Paleo-Indian hunters caused widespread extinctions of Pleistocene megafauna at the end of the Ice Age Introduction  Holocene – the geological epoch during which we now live. The Holocene follows the Pleistocene epoch and began roughly 11,000-10,000 ya  The most radical developments affecting the human condition continue to be the consequences of our uniquely human biocultural evolution Entering the New World  When people arrived is necessarily tied up with where they came from in order to search in the archaeological record for these first New World immigrants  By Late Pleistocene times, during Paleolithic of Europe and the Late Stone Age of Africa, modern humans had long ago pushed well into the temperate latitudes  These humans were capable of culturally adapting to changing natural and social environments (at a pace unthinkable to their Lower Paleolithic ancestors) o Member of these human groups became the first New World immigrants  There are two major hypotheses’ to explain the route of entry of human into the New World o By way of Bering land bride that connected Asia and North American several times during the Late Pleistocene o Along the coast of the northern Pacific Rim Bering Land Bridge  The land bridge formed during periods of maximum glaciation, when the volume of water locked up in glacial ice sheets reduced world wide sea levels by 300-400 feet  Beringia – the dry-land connection between Asia and America that existed periodically during the Pleisocene epoch  Archaeology confirms that humans were well adapted to the cold and dry conditions of the Late Glacial Maximum  Major glaciers to the southeast of Beringia blocked the further movement of both game and people throughout most of the Pleistocene epoch  Cordilleran – Pleistocene ice sheet originating in mountains of western North America  Laurentide – Pleistocene ice sheet centered in the Hudson Bay region and extending across much of Eastern Canada and the northern United States  Towards the close of the Pleistocene, the edges of the Cordilleran and Laurentide glaciers finally separated, allowing animals and human hunter-gatherers to gain entry to the south through an “ice-free corridor” along the eastern flank of the Canadian Rockies o This explained the entry of the earliest humans into the Americas as well as the origins of the Clovis complex  Clovis – North American archaeological complex characterized by distinctive fluted projectile points, dating to roughly 13,500-13,000 ya; once widely believed to be Notes From Reading CHAPTER13:EARLY HOLOCENEHUNTERS ANDGATHERERS(307-338) representative of specialized big game hunters, who may have driven many late Pleistocene species into extinction.  The Bering land bridge hypothesis for the enter of people into the New World rests on: o The technologically simplest way to get from the Old World to the New World was on foot o Lots of other animals arrived by this route during the Pleistocene, it was feasible for people to do the same o The skeletal and genetic evidence clearly favor an Asian origin fro Native Americans  Problem with the hypothesis: the age estimates for the earliest humans in N. and S. America are hard to reconcile with the age estimates for when they crossed Beringia  Archaeological evidence currently supports the inference that humans passed the glaciers and established themselves on both continents before, no after, 13,500 ya Pacific Coastal Route  This scenario also envisions the earliest New World inhabitants coming from Asia, but has them moving along the Pacific coast  The northern Pacific Rim between Asia and North America; canoes, rafts, or other forms of water transport, made it geographically possible for human to enter the New World o This route would have been less dependent on the waxing and waning of glaciers  Rafts or boats necessary to carry humans successfully along the Pacific coast from Asia to the New World must have existed and been used by some Late Pleistocene populations (before settling in the Americas)  Passage along the Pacific Rim may have been eased by access to the region’s diverse marine and terrestrial ecosystems  People may have used a coastal route to enter the New World because it avoids the time constraints  One problem is that evidence that could be used to test this hypothesis rests at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in sites that were covered, if not destroyed, by raising sea levels as the glaciers melted  Another problem is hat we have little archaeological evidence of marine=adapted human populations along the coast of northeastern Asia until after the end of the last Ice Age o Evidence may also be buried by rising sea levels at the end of the Pleistocene  The earliest migrant could have used the coastal route due to milder climate and rich resources of the coast The Earliest Americans  Who were they? Physical and Genetic Evidence  The rare early finds provide valuable insights on ancient life and death  The more derived craniofacial morphological traits seen in most modern Asian and Native American populations appear to be absent in this early population  We don’t have much data to work from, but what we do have shows similar morphological variation in Asia and the Americas among Late Pleistocene – early Holocene skeletons Notes From Reading CHAPTER13:EARLY HOLOCENEHUNTERS ANDGATHERERS(307-338)  There seems to have been more than one prehistoric migration from Asia into the New World  The particular physical traits shared by modern Native Americans are almost surely derived from a small founding gene pool and thus a product of founder effect  Recent analyses of mitochondrial DNA among contemporary Native American populations suggest that just four or five genetically related lineages contributed to the early peopling of the Americas and that these groups came from Asia  Coprolites – preserved fecal material, which can be studied for what the contents reveal about diet and health  Yielded human hair and human DNA support the coastal route hypothesis for the entry of humans into the continental United States o Well before the development of the Clovis complex o Before the ice-free corridor opened up Cultural Traces of the Earliest Americans  Nearly all archaeologists agree that Native Americans originated in northeastern Asia  Everyone agrees that the Paleo-Indian Clovis complex was present in North America by a later date  Paleo-Indian – Referring to early hunter-gatherers who occupied the Americas from about 13,500 to 10,000 ya  Bifacially flaked projectile points are far less common in Central and South America, Native American groups never did use bifacially worked stone tool technology  Most difficult to asses are some atypical sites that have been carefully excavated by researchers, believing their work offers proof of great human antiquity in the New World  Information regarding dating results, archaeological contexts and whether or no materials are of cultural origin must all be scrutinized and accepted before intense debate can resolve into consensus  The cultural equipment comprised sheroids (possibly sling stones), flaked stone points, perforating tools, a wooden lance, digging sticks, mortars and fire pits  Monte Verde’s greatest significance is simply its age, which is about 14,500 years old, with few features possibly much older  The mainstream of archaeological thought accepted that Monte Verde contained material evidence of a human presence in the New World more than a thousands years before the beginning of the Clovis complex around 13,200 ya in North America  The acceptance of Monte Verde’s great antiquity implied that archaeologists had a lot to learn about the colonization of the New World because it had just gotten a lot older Paleo-Indians in the Americas  The Clovis complex marked the earliest material evidence for the entry of people into the Americas below the Canadian glaciers about 13,2000 ya  Fluted Point – a biface or projectile point having had long, thin fakes removed rom each face to prepare the base for hafting, or attachment to a shaft o This became the Paleo-Indian period’s hallmark artifact, at least in North America  Other typical Paleo-Indian artifacts include a variety of stone cutting and scraping tools and, less commonly, preserved bone rods and points Notes From Reading CHAPTER13:EARLY HOLOCENEHUNTERS ANDGATHERERS(307-338)  Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, like Paleo-Indians, made bifacially worked stone tools and tipped their spears with projectile points – but not fluted projectile points  Similar tool industries were moving into the New World at an early date Paleo-Indian Lifeways  These rapidly moving Paleo-Indian hunters quickly made cultural adjustments as they dispersed through the varied environments of the New World during the terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene  Paleo-Indian were specialized hunters of Pleistocene megafauna o Megafauna – literally “large animals”, those weighing over 100 pounds; including the mammoth, mastodon, giant bison, horse, camel, and ground sloth  At many kill sites, knives, scrapers and finely flaked and fluted projectile points are directly associated with animal bones o Evidence that the megafauna were human prey  North American archaeologists have identified a sequence of Paleo-Indian cultures in the western Plains and Southwest based on changing tool technology and chronology  Folsom – Paleo-Indian archaeological complex of the southern Great Plains, around 12,500 ya, characterized by fluted projectile points used for hunting now-extinct bison  Plano – Great Plains bison-hunting culture of 11,000 – 9,000 ya, which employed narrow, unfluted points  The temporal pattern of changing point styles found in the western United States does not hold in the East, where later Paleo-Indians employed other types of projectile points  Dalton – Late or transitional Paleo-Indian projectile point type that dates between 10,000 and 8,000 ya in the eastern United States Pleistocene Extinctions  Researchers blame Paleo-Indian hunters for the extinction of North American Pleistocene megafauna  However, it has yet to be proved that Paleo-Indain hunter-gatherers anywhere focused most of their food-getting efforts on Pleistocene megafauna  Species extinction is a natural process, and it’s no less common than the emergence of new species  It has yet to be convincingly demonstrated that Paleo-Indian hunters were a more important factor than natural processes in the extincion of Late Pleistocene megafauna  One possible exception appears to be the extinction of proboscideans –mammoths, mastodons, elephants and their relatives  The end of the Pleistocene marked an interval of profound climatic and geographical changes  Younger Dryas – A stadial, or colder stage, between roughly 13,000 and 11,500 ya. the climate became colder and drier but did not return to full glacial conditions in higher latitudes  There are recent arguments that the explosion o
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