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Stuart J. Fiedel: "Is Clovis Still First?"

NYAS - Anthropology Lecture Series
October 27, 2014

The New York Academy of Sciences Anthropology Section lecture series continues Monday, October 27th, at 7:00 PM, when we and NYAS welcome Stuart J. Fiedel, Senior Archaeologist at the Louis Berger Group, to discuss the challenges recent genetic, archaeological, and paleological evidence present to attempts to unambiguously document human occupations in the Americas prior to 13,500 BP and "break the Clovis Barrier."

Since the antiquity of the Monte Verde site in southern Chile was certified in 1997, most archaeologists have accepted that peopling of the Americas began more than 14,500 years ago.  A few sites in North America also contain artifacts that seem to be older than Clovis fluted points (which date from ca. 13,500 to 12,800 cal yr BP).  The Paisley Caves in Oregon have yielded 14,300-year-old coprolites from which human DNA of Native American types has been extracted.  These ostensibly early sites have been linked to a model positing multiple early migrations down the Pacific coast.  It has even been proposed that Clovis developed from the Solutrean culture of France and Spain (despite the intervening ocean and a temporal gap of 6,000 years). However, all of these pre-Clovis claims remain dubious.  The most recent genetic, archaeological, and paleontological evidence shows that: 1) Native North, Central, and South Americans are all descended from a single founding population derived from northern Eurasia; 2) a child of that population was buried with Clovis tools at the Anzick Site in Montana 13,000 years ago; 3) interior Clovis-linked sites are older than any coastal sites; 4) a Clovis-derived population rapidly occupied South America 13,000 years ago; and 5) rapid human expansion caused an ecosystem catastrophe that entailed the extinction of some 80 genera of megafauna.

A reception will precede the meeting at 6:00 pm. The meeting is free to attend, but registration with NYAS is required. Please do not contact the Wenner-Gren Foundation with inquiries regarding registration.

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What Happened?

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Peter Seigel, Stuart Fiedel, Genese Sodikoff, and Brian Boyd