Re: diseases and immunity
Fri, 28 Jun 1996 12:20:06 -0700

Philip Deitiker wrote:

> Lets see how you like this definition...
> Paleolithic (c. 1865)..... of or relating to the second period of
> the stone age characterized by rough or chipped stone impliments
> (Sorry, but NIH and other gov't funds don't provide for new
> dictionaries.)
> So are you saying they didn't use chipped stone impliments?
> Or is this definition also wrong? Not that it really matters because
> its clear that these cultures had neither entered the metal ages yet.

You know, there are several existing problems with the Paleolithic, Neolithic, and
Bronze age divisions. I would classify the majority of Native Americans as
late neolithic. Here's why.

Neolithic is recognized as having four factors: grinding and polishing of stone
tools, the practice of agriculture, the domestication of animals, and the
manufacture of pottery. However, findings at Jerico, Jarmo, and Shinidar show the
domestication of animals and agriculture preceding the manufacture of pottery and
polished stone. Finds throughout Europe show the use of pottery, ground and
polished antler, with no agriculture or domestication. Many other exceptions

For the most part, ground and polished stone (sometimes bone and antler
equivalents) was common throughout the Americas, as was pottery. Agriculture, was
also common. Primarily horticulture, but some intensive agriculture in
pre-Columbian America. Alpacas, llamas, ducks, turkeys, and dogs were all
domesticated prior to European contact.

The use of wrought copper was common throughout North America, but especially in
the Great Lakes region. Gold, copper, and silver were being smelted and cast in
pre-Columbian America, and alloys, including a copper-lead alloy, were common.
Bronze was also developed near Bolivia as early as 1100 CE (although the
technology didn't seem to spread). These are all evident of late Neolithic and of
the earliest stages of a Bronze Age.

My point is that the technology appears neolithic throughout North America. While,
the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is usually associated with the paleolithic period,
there were cases in Europe of neolithic hunter-gatherers. The existance of
neolithic hunter-gatherers in North America then does not come as a surprise. It
is the technology which identifies the stage of development.

BTW - there seems to be a fundamental flaw in trying to apply a singualar
technology to the entire population of North and South America. There were
probably paleolithic peoples, just as there was certainly at least one bronze age
people in Bolivia (however short-lived).