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New England Antiquities Research Association

The First Americans

FIRST AMERICANS

Actually the first points found in undisputed connection with an extinct animal was in Folsom, NM in 1908. Not until an excavation was done in 1926 was a broken spear point found in connection with the extinct giant bison. Soon after more of the distinctive fluted points were found near Clovis, NM under mammoth bones and the name Clovis has since been applied to this culture that had developed a life style enabling it to prosper and spread.

The typical Clovis point has a “flute” that can only be made by a very experienced flint knapper at the end of the process. Evidence of an unusual technique called “overshot” results in a very thin cross section. As more sites with this distinctive culture were being found in the Southeast more questions remained unanswered about how humans could have survived in the period during and after the melting of the glaciers in the “ice free' corridor. Tundra like conditions do not provide food for either people or animals and yet Monte Verde was discovered near the tip of South America with a 14,000 year old date.

The new book by Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley, Across Atlantic Ice, the Origin of America's Clovis Culture presents a powerful argument for their hypothesis that during the Late Glacial Maximum (LGM) about 18,000, people from the Solutrean culture of Spain and France brought with them a stone tool technique that spread across the continent and developed into the Clovis culture.

The Mammoth Trumpet

“The Center for the Study of the First Americans fosters research and public interest in the Peopling of the Americas. The Center, an integral part of the department of Anthropology at Texas A&M University,promotes interdisciplinary scholarly dialogue among physical, geological, biological and social scientists.”

www.centerfirstamericans.org

Mammoth Trumpet001

Cultural Diffusion

The term ‘diffusionist’ was first used in 1893 to denote a scholar who believed that most folklore was borrowed from an Old World center of high culture, such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, or India (Oxford English Dictionary 1971). The term initially contrasted with it was ‘evolutionist,’ meaning, in this context, a folklorist who maintained that most traditional oral narratives originated in the area in which they were current. But, because the term evolutionist was more often employed to designate someone supporting a nontheistic theory of biological speciation, the word ‘inventionist’ came to replace evolutionist as the label for a believer in predominantly autonomous local cultural development.

The distinction between diffusionism and inventionism became progressively sharper as the two positions polarized. Increasingly, adherents of each school saw themselves as defensively compelled to refute the misinterpretations of the other school. In this respect, the relation between diffusionism and inventionism was much like that between evolutionism and creationism with regard to the origin of species, or that between uniformitarianism and catastrophism with regard to the history of the earth. In all three cases, polemics grew at the expense of mutual understanding.

Read the full article (PDF): CULTURAL DIFFUSION by Roger Williams Wescott, Across Before Columbus, NEARA publications, 1998.

Clovis and Beyond

Report on the Santa Fe Conference, October 1999

The Peopling of the Americas! Now there is a topic guaranteed to generate vigorous arguments among archaeologists, each of whom is convinced that he or she has a piece of the truth. The odd thing is that perhaps each one does, and the place to discover this was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, over the Halloween weekend, 1999, at the Clovis and Beyond conference. Co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of the First Americans, Clovis and Beyond attracted more then 1400 archaeologists and interested lay people.

Read the full article (PDF): CLOVIS & BEYOND by Ann Humphrey

Books

Across Atlantic Ice, by Standford, Dennis & Bruce Bradley; University of California Press

The Origin of America's Clovis Culture

Who were the first humans to inhabit North America? According to the now familiar story, mammal hunters entered the continent some 12,000 years ago via a land bridge that spanned the Bering Sea. Distinctive stone tools belonging to the Clovis culture established the presence of these early New World people. But are the Clovis tools Asian in origin? Drawing from original archaeological analysis, paleoclimatic research, and genetic studies, noted archaeologists Dennis J. Stanford and Bruce A. Bradley challenge the old narrative and, in the process, counter traditional—and often subjective—approaches to archaeological testing for historical relatedness. The authors apply rigorous scholarship to a hypothesis that places the technological antecedents of Clovis in Europe and posits that the first Americans crossed the Atlantic by boat and arrived earlier than previously thought. Supplying archaeological and oceanographic evidence to support this assertion, the book dismantles the old paradigm while persuasively linking Clovis technology with the culture of the Solutrean people who occupied France and Spain more than 20,000 years ago.

Links

Smithsonian Encyclopedia

For other related books from the University of California press see www.ucpress.edu/book