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Encyclopedia > Archaeology of the Americas

The Archeology of the Americas is the study of the archeology of North America, Central America (or Mesoamerica), South America and the Caribbean, which is to say, the pre-history and Pre-Columbian history of Native American peoples. (Although modern archaeology of contemporary American societies has been conducted, it is not generally considered covered by this term.)


Until recently, the most widely accepted interpretation of the archaeological evidence suggests a series of migrations from Siberia over a land bridge near the end of the last ice age. However, recent finds in Brazil have changed the way archeologists think about how the Americas were settled. Among these finds is a 12,000 year_old skull (http://www.andaman.org/book/chapter53/luzia/luzia.htm) which is closely related to the aboriginal peoples of Australia and Melanesia. Cave paintings show images of giant armadillos, which died out before the last ice age. They also show the oldest painting of a boat anywhere in the world. Archaeologists speculate that the first Americans drifted unknowingly from Australia.


There are various alternatives to that theory, and unconventional, unrelated diffusionist theories abound. These alternative theories generally are based upon less evidence and lack a large following.


In the United States, physical anthropology (archeological investigations based on the study of human remains) is complicated by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, (NAGPRA), which provides for the bodies of Native Americans and grave goods to be turned over to their tribe. In some cases, notably, that of Kennewick Man, this has affected human remains many thousands of years old which seem to have no connection to the modern tribes which are requesting relief under the act.


Further reading

  • Bones, Discovering the First Americans, Elaine Dewar, Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York, 2002, hardcover, 628 pages, ISBN 0-7867-0979-0

External links

  • Paleoamerican Origins (http://www.jqjacobs.net/anthro/paleoamerican_origins.html): A Review of Hypotheses and Evidence Relating to the Origins of the First Americans.
  • Early Monumental Architecture of the Peruvian Coast. (http://www.jqjacobs.net/andes/coast.html)
  • Rock Art Pages by James Q. Jacobs (http://www.jqjacobs.net/rock_art/)
  • BBC News Article: First Americans were Australian (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/430944.stm)



  Results from FactBites:
 
Intute: Arts and Humanities - browse Americas: Archaeology (4403 words)
Archaeology and the Native Peoples of Tennessee is an educational website published by the Frank H. McClung Museum, University of Tennessee.
'Archaeology in Arctic North America', hosted by the University of Waterloo, Canada, is the work of Dr Robert Park - an archaeologist specialising in the study of past societies in the northernmost reaches of the North American continent.
The archaeology of this area examines some of the most fascinating human adaptions to be seen anywhere, and presents logistical problems over and above those encountered during normal archaeological activity (including very short field seasons, permanently frozen ground and complicated travel and accommodation arrangements).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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