Re: The Anthroplogy of th

Rab Wilkie (
Fri, 9 Dec 94 01:40:00 -0500

-=> Quoting Scott C Delancey to All <=-

SCD> Subject: Re: The Anthroplogy of the New World
SCD> Date: 6 Dec 1994 15:17:58 -0800

Q> What are the latest estimates for how long we have been here? Every now and
Q> then I see claims that man arrived long before the end of the last glacial
Q> period (~12,000 years ago); what kind of evidence supports such a claim?

SCD> There are several archeological sites in North and South America
SCD> that may be datable to 15,000-30,000 years. All are still somewhat
SCD> controversial, but there are at least 3 or 4 (Meadowcroft Rock
SCD> Shelter in Pennsylvania, what's the one in Brazil?)

Toca da Boqueiron de Pedra Furada. 30,000y reasonably, but possibly older.

Bluefish Caves, Yukon: 16,000y, almost certainly.
In southern Chile: Monte Verde ("Oldest wet bog-site in the world"); easily
16,000y, probably 20,000y; traces indicating possible occupation several
thou yrs earlier.

SCD> that many reputable archeologists accept as older than 12,000 BP.
SCD> As far as I know, claims older than that are based on flimsy evidence
SCD> or less.

Sometimes less flimsy than evidence of occupation much more readily accepted
in other parts of the (Old) world. It seems an uphill struggle against
centuries of presumption or bias. The Americas are the NEW World, after all.

SCD> One archeologist (Ruth Gruhn) and one linguist (Johanna
SCD> Nichols) claim that the distribution (Gruhn) and/or the diversity
SCD> (Nichols) of New World languages imply ~40-50,000 years of habitation,
SCD> but neither argument is very strong. I would say, though, that the
SCD> New World languages are sufficiently divergent that, if they all
SCD> represent descent from one migration, it was more likely 15-20,000
SCD> than 10-12,000 years ago.

But it seems highly unlikely that they represent a single migration.
Three major movements at least: Aleut/Inuit, Na-Dene (including Athapaskan),
and the rest -- Amerindian, according to J Greenberg & others - which could
represent several even earlier movements of peoples.

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