Settlement of the Americas

The first settlement of the Americas began when Paleolithic hunter-gatherers first entered North America from the North Asian Mammoth steppe via the Beringia land bridge, which had formed between northeastern Siberia and western Alaska due to the lowering of sea level during the Last Glacial Maximum. These populations expanded south of the Laurentide Ice Sheet and rapidly throughout both North and South America, by 14,000 years ago.[1][2][3][4] The earliest populations in the Americas, before roughly 10,000 years ago, are known as Paleo-Indians.

The peopling of the Americas is a long-standing open question, and while advances in archaeology, Pleistocene geology, physical anthropology, and DNA analysis have shed progressively more light on the subject, significant questions remain unresolved.[5] While there is general agreement that the Americas were first settled from Asia, the pattern of migration, its timing, and the place(s) of origin in Eurasia of the peoples who migrated to the Americas remain unclear.[2]

The prevalent migration models outline different time frames for the Asian migration from the Bering Straits and subsequent dispersal of the founding population throughout the continent.[6] Indigenous peoples of the Americas have been linked to Siberian populations by linguistic factors, the distribution of blood types, and in genetic composition as reflected by molecular data, such as DNA.[7]

The "Clovis first theory" refers to the 1950s hypothesis that the Clovis culture represents the earliest human presence in the Americas, beginning about 13,000 years ago; evidence of pre-Clovis cultures has accumulated since 2000, pushing back the possible date of the first peopling of the Americas to about 13,200–15,500 years ago.[8][9]

Map of the earliest securely dated sites showing human presence in the Americas, 16–13 ka for North America and 15–11 ka for South America.

The environment during the latest Pleistocene

For an introduction to the radiocarbon dating techniques used by archaeologists and geologists, see radiocarbon dating.

Emergence and submergence of Beringia

Beringia land bridge-noaagov
Figure1. Submergence of the Beringian land bridge with post-Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) rise in eustatic sea level

During the Wisconsin Glaciation, varying portions of the Earth's water were stored as glacier ice. As water accumulated in glaciers, the volume of water in the oceans correspondingly decreased, resulting in lowering of global sea level. The variation of sea level over time has been reconstructed using oxygen isotope analysis of deep sea cores, the dating of marine terraces, and high resolution oxygen isotope sampling from ocean basins and modern ice caps. A drop of eustatic sea level by about 60 m to 120 m lower than present-day levels, commencing around 30,000 years BP, created Beringia, a durable and extensive geographic feature connecting Siberia with Alaska.[10] With the rise of sea level after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), the Beringian land bridge was again submerged. Estimates of the final re-submergence of the Beringian land bridge based purely on present bathymetry of the Bering Strait and eustatic sea level curve place the event around 11,000 years BP (Figure 1). Ongoing research reconstructing Beringian paleogeography during deglaciation could change that estimate and possible earlier submergence could further constrain models of human migration into North America.[10]


The onset of the Last Glacial Maximum after 30,000 years BP saw the expansion of alpine glaciers and continental ice sheets that blocked migration routes out of Beringia. By 21,000 years BP, and possibly thousands of years earlier, the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets coalesced east of the Rocky Mountains, closing off a potential migration route into the center of North America.[11][12][13] Alpine glaciers in the coastal ranges and the Alaskan Peninsula isolated the interior of Beringia from the Pacific coast. Coastal alpine glaciers and lobes of Cordilleran ice coalesced into piedmont glaciers that covered large stretches of the coastline as far south as Vancouver Island and formed an ice lobe across the Straits of Juan de Fuca by 15,000 14C years BP (18,000 cal years BP).[14][15] Coastal alpine glaciers started to retreat around 19,000 cal years BP [16] while Cordilleran ice continued advancing in the Puget lowlands up to 14,000 14C years BP (16,800 cal years BP)[15] Even during the maximum extent of coastal ice, unglaciated refugia persisted on present-day islands, that supported terrestrial and marine mammals.[13] As deglaciation occurred, refugia expanded until the coast became ice-free by 15,000 cal years BP.[13] The retreat of glaciers on the Alaskan Peninsula provided access from Beringia to the Pacific coast by around 17,000 cal years BP.[17] The ice barrier between interior Alaska and the Pacific coast broke up starting around 13,500 14C years (16,200 cal years) BP.[14] The ice-free corridor to the interior of North America opened between 13,000 and 12,000 cal years BP.[11][12][13] Glaciation in eastern Siberia during the LGM was limited to alpine and valley glaciers in mountain ranges and did not block access between Siberia and Beringia.[10]

Climate and biological environments

The paleoclimates and vegetation of eastern Siberia and Alaska during the Wisconsin glaciation have been deduced from high resolution oxygen isotope data and pollen stratigraphy.[10][18][19] Prior to the Last Glacial Maximum, climates in eastern Siberia fluctuated between conditions approximating present day conditions and colder periods. The pre-LGM warm cycles in Arctic Siberia saw flourishes of megafaunas.[10] The oxygen isotope record from the Greenland Ice Cap suggests that these cycles after about 45k years BP lasted anywhere from hundreds to between one and two thousand years, with greater duration of cold periods starting around 32k cal years BP.[10] The pollen record from Elikchan Lake, north of the Sea of Okhotsk, shows a marked shift from tree and shrub pollen to herb pollen prior to 26k 14C years BP, as herb tundra replaced boreal forest and shrub steppe going into the LGM.[10] A similar record of tree/shrub pollen being replaced with herb pollen as the LGM approached was recovered near the Kolyma River in Arctic Siberia.[19] The abandonment of the northern regions of Siberia due to rapid cooling or the retreat of game species with the onset of the LGM has been proposed to explain the lack of archaeosites in that region dating to the LGM.[19][20] The pollen record from the Alaskan side shows shifts between herb/shrub and shrub tundra prior to the LGM, suggesting less dramatic warming episodes than those that allowed forest colonization on the Siberian side. Diverse, though not necessarily plentiful, megafaunas were present in those environments. Herb tundra dominated during the LGM, due to cold and dry conditions.[18]

Coastal environments during the Last Glacial Maximum were complex. The lowered sea level, and an isostatic bulge equilibrated with the depression beneath the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, exposed the continental shelf to form a coastal plain.[21] While much of the coastal plain was covered with piedmont glaciers, unglaciated refugia supporting terrestrial mammals have been identified on Haida Gwaii, Prince of Wales Island, and outer islands of the Alexander Archipelago.[18] The now-submerged coastal plain has potential for more refugia.[18] Pollen data indicate mostly herb/shrub tundra vegetation in unglaciated areas, with some boreal forest towards the southern end of the range of Cordilleran ice.[18] The coastal marine environment remained productive, as indicated by fossils of pinnipeds.[21] The highly productive kelp forests over rocky marine shallows may have been a lure for coastal migration.[22][23] Reconstruction of the southern Beringian coastline also suggests potential for a highly productive coastal marine environment.[23]

Environmental changes during deglaciation

Pollen data indicate a warm period culminating between 14k and 11k 14C years BP (17k-13k cal years BP) followed by cooling between 11k-10k 14C years BP (13k-11.5k cal years BP).[21] Coastal areas deglaciated rapidly as coastal alpine glaciers, then lobes of Cordilleran ice, retreated. The retreat was accelerated as sea levels rose and floated glacial termini. Estimates of a fully ice-free coast range between 16k[21] and 15k[13] cal years BP. Littoral marine organisms colonized shorelines as ocean water replaced glacial meltwater. Replacement of herb/shrub tundra by coniferous forests was underway by 12.4k 14C years BP (15k cal years BP) north of Haida Gwaii. Eustatic sea level rise caused flooding, which accelerated as the rate grew more rapid.[21]

The inland Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets retreated more slowly than did the coastal glaciers. Opening of an ice-free corridor did not occur until after 13k to 12k cal years BP.[11][12][13] The early environment of the ice-free corridor was dominated by glacial outwash and meltwater, with ice-dammed lakes and periodic flooding from the release of ice-dammed meltwater.[11] Biological productivity of the deglaciated landscape was gained slowly.[13] The earliest possible viability of the ice-free corridor as a human migration route has been estimated at 11.5k cal years BP.[13]

Birch forests were advancing across former herb tundra in Beringia by 14.3ka 14C years BP (17k cal years BP) in response to climatic amelioration, indicating increased productivity of the landscape.[19]

Chronology and sources of migration

Early migrations mercator
25 kya Beringia during the LGM 16-14 kya peopling of the Americas just after the LGM

The archaeological community is in general agreement that the ancestors of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas of historical record entered the Americas at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), shortly after 20,000 years ago, with ascertained archaeological presence shortly after 16,000 years ago.

There remain uncertainties regarding the precise dating of individual sites and regarding conclusions drawn from population genetics studies of contemporary Native Americans. It is also an open question whether this post-LGM migration represented the first peopling of the Americas, or whether there had been an earlier, pre-LGM migration which had reached South America as early as 40,000 years ago.


In the early 21st century, the models of the chronology of migration are divided into two general approaches.[24][25]

The first is the short chronology theory, that the first migration occurred after the Last Glacial Maximum, which went into decline after about 19,000 years ago,[16] and was then followed by successive waves of immigrants.[26]

The second theory is the long chronology theory, which proposes that the first group of people entered the Americas at a much earlier date, possibly before 40,000 years ago,[27][28][29] followed by a much later second wave of immigrants.[25][30]

The Clovis First theory, which dominated thinking on New World anthropology for much of the 20th century, was challenged by the secure dating of archaeosites in the Americas to before 13kya in the 2000s.[31][32][11][12][13] The "short chronology" scenario, in the light of this, refers to a peopling of the Americas shortly after 19,000 years ago, while the "long chronology" scenario permits pre-LGM presence, by around 40 kya.

The Buttermilk Creek Complex in Texas, 40 miles northwest of Austin, is seen as one of the oldest confirmed sites in the Americas, dating to 15,500 years ago. It features the oldest spear points in the Americas.[33]

Archaeological evidence of pre-Clovis people points to the South Carolina Topper Site being 16,000 years old, at a time when the glacial maximum would have theoretically allowed for lower coastlines, but intense glaciation would render the terrain virtually impassable. The results of a multiple-author study by Danish, Canadian, and American scientists published in Nature in 2016 revealed that "the first Americans, whether Clovis or earlier groups in unglaciated North America before 12.6 cal. kyr BP", are "unlikely" to "have travelled to North America from Siberia via the Bering land bridge[34] "via a corridor that opened up between the melting ice sheets in what is now Alberta and B.C. about 13,000 years ago" as many anthropologists had argued for decades.[35] The lead author, Mikkel Pedersen – a PhD student from University of Copenhagen – explained, "The ice-free corridor was long considered the principal entry route for the first Americans ... Our results reveal that it simply opened up too late for that to have been possible."[35] The scientists argued that by 10,000 years ago, the ice-free corridor in what is now Alberta and B.C "was gradually taken over by a boreal forest dominated by spruce and pine trees" and that "Clovis people likely came from the south, not the north, perhaps following wild animals such as bison.".[34][35] One proposed theory to account for the peopling of America is their arrival by boat. This hypothesis would require more excavation of coastal sites particularly in British Columbia and Alaska, many of which would have been submerged due to the rising sea level following the Last Glacial Maximum.

Evidence for pre-LGM human presence

Map of gene flow in and out of Beringia
Figure 2. Schematic illustration of maternal (mtDNA) gene-flow in and out of Beringia (long chronology, single source model).
Map of Beringia showing the exposed seafloor and glaciation at 40 kya and 16 kya. The green arrow indicates the "interior migration" model along an ice-free corridor separating the major continental ice sheets, the red arrow indicates the "coastal migration" model, both leading to a "rapid colonization" of the Americas after c. 16 kya.[36]

Pre-Last Glacial Maximum migration across Beringia into the Americas has been proposed to explain purported pre-LGM ages of archaeosites in the Americas such as Bluefish Caves[28] and Old Crow Flats[29] in the Yukon Territory, and Meadowcroft Rock Shelter in Pennsylvania.[25][30]

At the Old Crow Flats, mammoth bones have been found that are broken in distinctive ways indicating human butchery. The radiocarbon dates on these vary between 25 000 and 40 000 years BP."[37]

Also, stone microflakes have been found in the area indicating tool production.

Previously, the interpretations of butcher marks and the geologic association of bones at the Bluefish Cave and Old Crow Flats sites, and the related Bonnet Plume site, have been called into question.[38]

Pre-LGM human presence in South America rests partly on the chronology of the controversial Pedra Furada rock shelter in Piauí, Brazil. A 2003 study dated evidence for the controlled use of fire to before 40 kya.[39] Additional evidence has been adduced from the morphology of Luzia Woman fossil, which was described as Australoid. This interpretation was challenged in a 2003 review which concluded the features in question could also have arisen by genetic drift.[40]

The ages of the earliest positively identified artifacts at the Meadowcroft site are constrained by a compiled age estimate from 14C in the range of 12k–15k 14C years BP (13.8k–18.5k cal years BP).[31][41] The units cal BP mean "calibrated years before the present" or "calendar years before the present", indicating that the dates were estimated using radiocarbon dating, and the k after the number means thousands.[42]

The Meadowcroft Rockshelter site and the Monte Verde site in southern Chile, with a date of 14.8k cal years BP,[32] are the archaeosites in the Americas with the oldest dates that have gained broad acceptance.

Stones described as probable tools, hammerstones and anvils, have been found in southern California, at the Cerutti Mastodon site, that are associated with a mastodon skeleton which appeared to have been processed by humans. The mastodon skeleton was dated by thorium-230/uranium radiometric analysis, using diffusion–adsorption–decay dating models, to 130.7 ± 9.4 thousand years ago.[43] No human bones were found, and the claims of tools and bone processing have been described as "not plausible".[44]

The Yana River Rhino Horn site (RHS) has dated human occupation of eastern Arctic Siberia to 27k 14C years BP (31.3k cal years BP).[45] That date has been interpreted by some as evidence that migration into Beringia was imminent, lending credence to occupation of Beringia during the LGM.[46][47] However, the Yana RHS date is from the beginning of the cooling period that led into the LGM.[10] But, a compilation of archaeosite dates throughout eastern Siberia suggest that the cooling period caused a retreat of humans southwards.[19][20] Pre-LGM lithic evidence in Siberia indicate a settled lifestyle that was based on local resources, while post-LGM lithic evidence indicate a more migratory lifestyle.[20]

The oldest archaeosite on the Alaskan side of Beringia date to 12k 14C years BP (14k cal years BP).[19][48] It is possible that a small founder population had entered Beringia before that time. However, archaeosites that date closer to the Last Glacial Maximum on either the Siberian or the Alaskan side of Beringia are lacking.

Genomic age estimates

Studies of Amerindian genetics have used high resolution analytical techniques applied to DNA samples from modern Native Americans and Asian populations regarded as their source populations to reconstruct the development of human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups (yDNA haplogroups) and human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups (mtDNA haplogroups) characteristic of Native American populations.[27][46][47] Models of molecular evolution rates were used to estimate the ages at which Native American DNA lineages branched off from their parent lineages in Asia and to deduce the ages of demographic events. One model (Tammetal 2007) based on Native American mtDNA Haplotypes (Figure 2) proposes that migration into Beringia occurred between 30k and 25k cal years BP, with migration into the Americas occurring around 10k to 15k years after isolation of the small founding population.[46] Another model (Kitchen et al. 2008) proposes that migration into Beringia occurred approximately 36k cal years BP, followed by 20k years of isolation in Beringia.[47] A third model (Nomatto et al. 2009) proposes that migration into Beringia occurred between 40k and 30k cal years BP, with a pre-LGM migration into the Americas followed by isolation of the northern population following closure of the ice-free corridor.[27] Evidence of Australo-Melanesians admixture in Amazonian populations was found by Skoglund and Reich (2016).[49]

A study of the diversification of mtDNA Haplogroups C and D from southern Siberia and eastern Asia, respectively, suggests that the parent lineage (Subhaplogroup D4h) of Subhaplogroup D4h3, a lineage found among Native Americans and Han Chinese,[50][51] emerged around 20k cal years BP, constraining the emergence of D4h3 to post-LGM.[52] Age estimates based on Y-chromosome micro-satellite diversity place origin of the American Haplogroup Q1a3a (Y-DNA) at around 10k to 15k cal years BP.[53] Greater consistency of DNA molecular evolution rate models with each other and with archaeological data may be gained by the use of dated fossil DNA to calibrate molecular evolution rates.[50]

Source populations

There is general agreement among anthropologists that the source populations for the migration into the Americas originated from an area somewhere east of the Yenisei River. The common occurrence of the mtDNA Haplogroups A, B, C, and D among eastern Asian and Native American populations has long been recognized, along with the presence of Haplogroup X.[54] As a whole, the greatest frequency of the four Native American associated haplogroups occurs in the Altai-Baikal region of southern Siberia.[55] Some subclades of C and D closer to the Native American subclades occur among Mongolian, Amur, Japanese, Korean, and Ainu populations.[54][56]

Human genomic models

The development of high-resolution genomic analysis has provided opportunities to further define Native American subclades and narrow the range of Asian subclades that may be parent or sister subclades. For example, the broad geographic range of Haplogroup X has been interpreted as allowing the possibility of a western Eurasian, or even a European source population for Native Americans, as in the Solutrean hypothesis, or suggesting a pre-Last Glacial Maximum migration into the Americas.[54] The analysis of an ancient variant of Haplogroup X among aboriginals of the Altai region indicates common ancestry with the European strain rather than descent from the European strain.[55] Further division of X subclades has allowed identification of Subhaplogroup X2a, which is regarded as specific to Native Americans.[46][51] With further definition of subclades related to Native American populations, the requirements for sampling Asian populations to find the most closely related subclades grow more specific. Subhaplogroups D1 and D4h3 have been regarded as Native American specific based on their absence among a large sampling of populations regarded as potential descendants of source populations, over a wide area of Asia.[46] Among the 3764 samples, the Sakhalin – lower Amur region was represented by 61 Oroks.[46] In another study, Subhaplogroup D1a has been identified among the Ulchis of the lower Amur River region(4 among 87 sampled, or 4.6%), along with Subhaplogroup C1a (1 among 87, or 1.1%).[56] Subhaplogroup C1a is regarded as a close sister clade of the Native American Subhaplogroup C1b.[56] Subhaplogroup D1a has also been found among ancient Jōmon skeletons from Hokkaido[57] The modern Ainu are regarded as descendants of the Jōmon.[57] The occurrence of the Subhaplogroups D1a and C1a in the lower Amur region suggests a source population from that region distinct from the Altai-Baikal source populations, where sampling did not reveal those two particular subclades.[56] The conclusions regarding Subhaplogroup D1 indicating potential source populations in the lower Amur[56] and Hokkaido[57] areas stand in contrast to the single-source migration model.[27][46][47]

Subhaplogroup D4h3 has been identified among Han Chinese.[50][51] Subhaplogroup D4h3 from China does not have the same geographic implication as Subhaplotype D1a from Amur-Hokkaido, so its implications for source models are more speculative. Its parent lineage, Subhaplotype D4h, is believed to have emerged in east Asia, rather than Siberia, around 20k cal years BP.[52] Subhaplogroup D4h2, a sister clade of D4h3, has also been found among Jōmon skeletons from Hokkaido.[58] D4h3 has a coastal trace in the Americas.[51]

The contrast between the genetic profiles of the Hokkaido Jōmon skeletons and the modern Ainu illustrates another uncertainty in source models derived from modern DNA samples:[57]

However, probably due to the small sample size or close consanguinity among the members of the site, the frequencies of the haplogroups in Funadomari skeletons were quite different from any modern populations, including Hokkaido Ainu, who have been regarded as the direct descendant of the Hokkaido Jomon people.

The descendants of source populations with the closest relationship to the genetic profile from the time when differentiation occurred are not obvious. Source population models can be expected to become more robust as more results are compiled, the heritage of modern proxy candidates becomes better understood, and fossil DNA in the regions of interest is found and considered.

HTLV-1 genomics

The Human T cell Lymphotrophic Virus 1 (HTLV-1) is a virus transmitted through exchange of bodily fluids and from mother to child through breast milk. The mother-to-child transmission mimics a hereditary trait, although such transmission from maternal carriers is less than 100%.[59] The HTLV virus genome has been mapped, allowing identification of four major strains and analysis of their antiquity through mutations. The highest geographic concentrations of the strain HLTV-1 are in sub-Saharan Africa and Japan.[60] In Japan, it occurs in its highest concentration on Kyushu.[60] It is also present among African descendants and native populations in the Caribbean region and South America.[60] It is rare in Central America and North America.[60] Its distribution in the Americas has been regarded as due to importation with the slave trade.[61]

The Ainu have developed antibodies to HTLV-1, indicating its endemicity to the Ainu and its antiquity in Japan.[62] A subtype "A" has been defined and identified among the Japanese (including Ainu), and among Caribbean and South American isolates.[63] A subtype "B" has been identified in Japan and India.[63] In 1995, Native Americans in coastal British Columbia were found to have both subtypes A and B.[64] Bone marrow specimens from an Andean mummy about 1500 years old were reported to have shown the presence of the A subtype.[65] The finding ignited controversy, with contention that the sample DNA was insufficiently complete for the conclusion and that the result reflected modern contamination.[66] However, a re-analysis indicated that the DNA sequences were consistent with, but not definitely from, the "cosmopolitan clade" (subtype A).[66] The presence of subtypes A and B in the Americas is suggestive of a Native American source population related to the Ainu ancestors, the Jōmon.

Physical anthropology

Paleoamerican skeletons in the Americas such as Kennewick Man (Washington State), Hoya Negro skeleton (Yucatán), Luzia Woman and other skulls from the Lagoa Santa site (Brazil), Buhl Woman (Idaho), Peñon Woman III,[67] two skulls from the Tlapacoya site (Mexico City),[67] and 33 skulls from Baja California[68] have exhibited craniofacial traits distinct from most modern Native Americans, leading physical anthropologists to the opinion that some Paleoamericans were of an Australoid rather than Siberian origin.[69] The most basic measured distinguishing trait is the dolichocephaly of the skull. Some modern isolates such as the Pericúes of Baja California and the Fuegians of Tierra del Fuego exhibit that same morphological trait.[68] Other anthropologists advocate an alternative hypothesis that evolution of an original Beringian phenotype gave rise to a distinct morphology that was similar in all known Paleoamerican skulls, followed by later convergence towards the modern Native American phenotype.[70][71] Resolution of the issue awaits the identification of a Beringian phenotype among paleoamerican skulls or evidence of a genetic clustering among examples of the Australoid phenotype.

A report published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in January 2015 reviewed craniofacial variation focussing on differences between early and late Native Americans and explanations for these based on either skull morphology or molecular genetics. Arguments based on molecular genetics have in the main, according to the authors, accepted a single migration from Asia with a probable pause in Berengia, plus later bi-directional gene flow. Studies focussing on craniofacial morphology have argued that Paleoamerican remains have "been described as much closer to African and Australo-Melanesians populations than to the modern series of Native Americans", suggesting two entries into the Americas, an early one occurring before a distinctive East Asian morphology developed (referred to in the paper as the "Two Components Model". A third model, the "Recurrent Gene Flow" [RGF] model, attempts to reconcile the two, arguing that circumarctic gene flow after the initial migration could account for morphological changes. It specifically re-evaluates the original report on the Hoya Negro skeleton which supported the RGF model, the authors disagreed with the original conclusion which suggested that the skull shape did not match those of modern Native Americans, arguing that the "skull falls into a subregion of the morphospace occupied by both Paleoamericans and some modern Native Americans."[72][73]

Stemmed points

Stemmed points are a lithic technology distinct from Beringian and Clovis types. They have a distribution ranging from coastal east Asia to the Pacific coast of South America.[22] The emergence of stemmed points has been traced to Korea during the upper Paleolithic.[74] The origin and distribution of stemmed points have been interpreted as a cultural marker related to a source population from coastal east Asia.[22]

Migration routes

Interior route

Peopling of America through Beringia
Map showing the approximate location of the ice-free corridor along the Continental Divide, separating the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets. Also indicated are the locations of the Clovis and Folsom Paleo-Indian sites.

Historically, theories about migration into the Americas have centered on migration from Beringia through the interior of North America. The discovery of artifacts in association with Pleistocene faunal remains near Clovis, New Mexico in the early 1930s required extension of the timeframe for the settlement of North America to the period during which glaciers were still extensive. That led to the hypothesis of a migration route between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets to explain the early settlement. The Clovis site was host to a lithic technology characterized by spear points with an indentation, or flute, where the point was attached to the shaft. A lithic complex characterized by the Clovis Point technology was subsequently identified over much of North America and in South America. The association of Clovis complex technology with late Pleistocene faunal remains led to the theory that it marked the arrival of big game hunters that migrated out of Beringia then dispersed throughout the Americas, otherwise known as the Clovis First theory.

Recent radiocarbon dating of Clovis sites has yielded ages of 11.1k to 10.7k 14C years BP (13k to 12.6k cal years BP), somewhat later than dates derived from older techniques.[75] The re-evaluation of earlier radiocarbon dates led to the conclusion that no fewer than 11 of the 22 Clovis sites with radiocarbon dates are "problematic" and should be disregarded, including the type site in Clovis, New Mexico. Numerical dating of Clovis sites has allowed comparison of Clovis dates with dates of other archaeosites throughout the Americas, and of the opening of the ice-free corridor. Both lead to significant challenges to the Clovis First theory. The Monte Verde site of Southern Chile has been dated at 14.8k cal years BP.[32] The Paisley Cave site in eastern Oregon yielded a 14C date of 12.4k years (14.5k cal years) BP, on a coprolite with human DNA and 14C dates of 11.3k-11k (13.2k-12.9k cal years) BP on horizons containing western stemmed points.[76] Artifact horizons with non-Clovis lithic assemblages and pre-Clovis ages occur in eastern North America, although the maximum ages tend to be poorly constrained.[31][41]

Geological findings on the timing of the ice-free corridor also challenge the notion that Clovis and pre-Clovis human occupation of the Americas was a result of migration through that route following the Last Glacial Maximum. Pre-LGM closing of the corridor may approach 30k cal years BP and estimates of ice retreat from the corridor are in the range of 12 to 13k cal years BP.[11][12][13] Viability of the corridor as a human migration route has been estimated at 11.5k cal years BP, later than the ages of the Clovis and pre-Clovis sites.[13] Dated Clovis archaeosites suggest a south-to-north spread of the Clovis culture.[11]

Pre-Last Glacial Maximum migration into the interior has been proposed to explain pre-Clovis ages for archaeosites in the Americas,[25][30] although pre-Clovis sites such as Meadowcroft Rock Shelter,[31][41] Monte Verde,[32] and Paisley Cave have not yielded confirmed pre-LGM ages.

The interior route is consistent with the spread of the Na Dene language group and Subhaplogroup X2a into the Americas after the earliest paleoamerican migration.[51]

Pacific coastal route

Pacific models propose that people first reached the Americas via water travel, following coastlines from northeast Asia into the Americas. Coastlines are unusually productive environments because they provide humans with access to a diverse array of plants and animals from both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. While not exclusive of land-based migrations, the Pacific 'coastal migration theory' helps explain how early colonists reached areas extremely distant from the Bering Strait region, including sites such as Monte Verde in southern Chile and Taima-Taima in western Venezuela. Two cultural components were discovered at Monte Verde near the Pacific coast of Chile. The youngest layer is radiocarbon dated at 12,500 radiocarbon years (~14,000 cal BP) and has produced the remains of several types of seaweeds collected from coastal habitats. The older and more controversial component may date back as far as 33,000 years, but few scholars currently accept this very early component.

As the chronology of deglaciation in the interior and coastal regions of North America became better understood, the coastal migration hypothesis was advanced by Knute Fladmark as an alternative to the ice-free corridor hypothesis.[77] Debate on coastal versus interior migration for initial settlement has centered on evidence for chronology of initial settlement of Beringia,[19][48] interior North America,[11] the Pacific coast of the Americas,[32] and timing of the opening of coastal versus interior migration routes indicated by geological evidence.[11][13] Complicating the debate has been the absence of archaeological data from the coastal and interior migration routes from the periods when the initial migration is proposed to have occurred. A recent variation of the coastal migration hypothesis is the marine migration hypothesis, which proposes that migrants with boats settled in coastal refugia during deglaciation of the coast.[22][23] The proposed use of boats adds a measure of flexibility to the chronology of coastal migration, as a continuous ice-free coast (16k-15k cal years BP) would no longer be required. A coastal east Asian source population is integral to the marine migration hypothesis.[22][23]

In 2014, the autosomal DNA of a toddler from Montana, dated at 10.7k 14C years (12.5–12.7 cal years) BP was sequenced.[78] The DNA was taken from a skeleton referred to as Anzick-1, found in close association with several Clovis artifacts. The analysis yielded identification of the mtDNA as belonging to Subhaplogroup D4h3a, a rare subclade of D4h3 occurring along the west coast of the Americas, as well as geneflow related to the Siberian Mal'ta population. The data indicate that Anzick-1 is from a population directly ancestral to present South American and Central American Native American populations. Anzick-1 is less closely related to present North American Native American populations. D4h3a has been identified as a clade associated with coastal migration.[51]

The problems associated with finding archaeological evidence for migration during a period of lowered sea level are well known.[22][79] Sites related to the first migration are usually submerged, so the location of such sites is obscured. Certain types of evidence dependent on organic material, such as radiocarbon dating, may be destroyed by submergence. Wave action can destroy site structures and scatter artifacts along a prograding shoreline. Additionally, Pacific coastal conditions tend to be unstable due to steep unstable terrain, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Strategies for finding earliest migration sites include identifying potential sites on submerged paleoshorelines, seeking sites in areas uplifted either by tectonics or isostatic rebound, and looking for riverine sites in areas that may have attracted coastal migrants.[22][79] Otherwise, coastal archaeology is dependent on secondary evidence related to lifestyles and technologies of maritime peoples from sites similar to those that would be associated with the original migration.

Other coastal models, dealing specifically with the peopling of the Pacific Northwest and California coasts, have been advocated by archaeologists Knut Fladmark, Roy Carlson, James Dixon, Jon Erlandson, Ruth Gruhn, and Daryl Fedje. In a 2007 article in the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, Erlandson and his colleagues proposed a corollary to the coastal migration theory—the "kelp highway hypothesis"—arguing that productive kelp forests supporting similar suites of plants and animals would have existed near the end of the Pleistocene around much of the Pacific Rim from Japan to Beringia, the Pacific Northwest, and California, as well as the Andean Coast of South America. Once the coastlines of Alaska and British Columbia had deglaciated about 16,000 years ago, these kelp forest (along with estuarine, mangrove, and coral reef) habitats would have provided an ecologically similar migration corridor, entirely at sea level, and essentially unobstructed.

A 2016 DNA analysis of plants and animals suggest a coastal route was feasible.[80][81]

East Asians: Paleoindians of the coast

The boat-builders from Southeast Asia (Austronesian peoples) may have been one of the earliest groups to reach the shores of North America.[82][83][84] One theory suggests people in boats followed the coastline from the Kurile Islands to Alaska down the coasts of North and South America as far as Chile.[8] 62[13] 54, 57. The Haida nation on the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia may have originated from these early Asian mariners between 25,000 and 12,000 years ago. Early watercraft migration would also explain the habitation of coastal sites in South America such as Pikimachay Cave in Peru by 20,000 years ago (disputed) and Monte Verde in Chile by 13,000 years ago [6 30; 8 383].

'There was boat use in Japan 20,000 years ago,' says Jon Erlandson, a University of Oregon anthropologist. 'The Kurile Islands (north of Japan) are like stepping stones to Beringia,' the then continuous land bridging the Bering Strait. Migrants, he said, could have then skirted the tidewater glaciers in Canada right on down the coast. [7 64]'

Problems with evaluating coastal migration models

The coastal migration models provide a different perspective on migration to the New World, but they are not without their own problems. One such problem is that global sea levels have risen over 120 metres (390 ft)[85] since the end of the last glacial period, and this has submerged the ancient coastlines that maritime people would have followed into the Americas. Finding sites associated with early coastal migrations is extremely difficult—and systematic excavation of any sites found in deeper waters is challenging and expensive. On the other hand, there is evidence of marine technologies found in the hills of the Channel Islands of California, circa 10,000 BCE.[86] If there was an early pre-Clovis coastal migration, there is always the possibility of a "failed colonization". Another problem that arises is the lack of hard evidence found for a "long chronology" theory. No sites have yet produced a consistent chronology older than about 12,500 radiocarbon years (~14,500 calendar years), but research has been limited in South America related to the possibility of early coastal migrations.

Y-DNA among South American and Alaskan natives

The micro-satellite diversity and distribution of a Y lineage specific to South America suggest that certain Amerindian populations became isolated after the initial colonization of their regions.[87] The Na-Dené, Inuit and Indigenous Alaskan populations exhibit haplogroup Q (Y-DNA) mutations, but are distinct from other indigenous Amerindians with various mtDNA and autosomal DNA (atDNA) mutations.[88][89][90] This suggests that the earliest migrants into the northern extremes of North America and Greenland derived from later migrant populations.[91][92]

Other hypotheses

There exist a number of theories for pre-Columbian trans-oceanic migrations into the Americas.

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External links

American settlers

American settlers is a broad-concept term which may refer to:

Settlement of the Americas, which began when Paleolithic hunter-gatherers entered North America via the Beringia land bridge from Siberia

European colonization of the Americas, which began in 1492, when a Spanish expedition headed by the explorer Christopher Columbus sailed west and landed in what came to be known to Europeans as the "New World"

Colonial history of the United States, European colonization of America from the start of colonization in the early 16th century

Manifest destiny, the westward movement of settlers across North America

Later migrations of specific groups to the United States:

History of Chinese Americans includes three major waves of Chinese immigration to the United States with the first beginning in the 19th century

Cuban immigration to the United States

Emigration from Mexico, primarily to the United States

Central American migrant caravans, composed of people who fled gang violence, poverty, and political repression with the goal of settling in the United States

Amotape complex

The Amotape complex is an archaeological culture on the northern coast of Peru dated to between c. 9,000 and 7,100 BCE. It constitutes some of the oldest evidence for human occupation of the Peruvian coast. The Amotape complex was identified by the American anthropologist James Richardson III, who located a dozen small camps in the Peruvian coastal desert at the foot of the Amotape hills, near the modern city of Talara. The people of the Amotope complex were hunter–gatherers who manufactured unifacial stone tools in chalcedony and quartzite to exploit a variety of local plants and animals. They also collected shellfish in the mangrove swamps which covered the coastline at that time.


Beringia is defined today as the land and maritime area bounded on the west by the Lena River in Russia; on the east by the Mackenzie River in Canada; on the north by 72 degrees north latitude in the Chukchi Sea; and on the south by the tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula. It includes the Chukchi Sea, the Bering Sea, the Bering Strait, the Chukchi and Kamchatka Peninsulas in Russia as well as Alaska in the United States.

The area includes land lying on the North American Plate and Siberian land east of the Chersky Range. Historically, it formed a land bridge that was up to 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) wide at its greatest extent and which covered an area as large as British Columbia and Alberta together, totaling approximately 1,600,000 square kilometres (620,000 square miles). Today, the only land that is visible from the central part of the Bering land bridge are the Diomede Islands, the Pribilof Islands of St. Paul and St. George, St. Lawrence Island, and King Island.The term Beringia was coined by the Swedish botanist Eric Hultén in 1937. During the ice ages, Beringia, like most of Siberia and all of North and Northeast China, was not glaciated because snowfall was very light. It was a grassland steppe, including the land bridge, that stretched for hundreds of kilometres into the continents on either side.

It is believed that a small human population of at most a few thousand arrived in Beringia from eastern Siberia during the Last Glacial Maximum before expanding into the settlement of the Americas sometime after 16,500 years BP. This would have occurred as the American glaciers blocking the way southward melted, but before the bridge was covered by the sea about 11,000 years BP.Before European colonization, Beringia was inhabited by the Yupik peoples on both sides of the straits. This culture remains in the region today along with others. In 2012, the governments of Russia and the United States announced a plan to formally establish "a transboundary area of shared Beringian heritage". Among other things this agreement would establish close ties between the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and the Cape Krusenstern National Monument in the United States and Beringia National Park in Russia.

Ciudad Colonial (Santo Domingo)

Ciudad Colonial (Spanish for "Colonial City") is the historic central neighborhood of Santo Domingo and the oldest permanent European settlement of the Americas. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is also known as Zona Colonial (Colonial Zone) or more colloquially as "La Zona" (The Zone) . The Ciudad Colonial is located on the west bank of the Ozama River, which bisects the city. It covers 1.06 km2 (0.41 sq mi) bounded by a walled perimeter.

It is an important section of the city due to the high number of landmarks, including Alcázar de Colón, Fortaleza Ozama, Catedral de Santa María la Menor, and others.

Clovis culture

The Clovis culture is a prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture, named for distinct stone tools found in close association with Pleistocene fauna at Blackwater Locality No. 1 near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1920s and 1930s. It appears around 11,500–11,000 uncalibrated radiocarbon years before present at the end of the last glacial period, and is characterized by the manufacture of "Clovis points" and distinctive bone and ivory tools. Archaeologists' most precise determinations at present suggest this radiocarbon age is equal to roughly 13,200 to 12,900 calendar years ago. Clovis people are considered to be the ancestors of most of the indigenous cultures of the Americas.The only human burial that has been directly associated with tools from the Clovis culture included the remains of an infant boy researchers named Anzick-1. Paleogenetic analyses of Anzick-1's ancient nuclear, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosome DNA reveal that Anzick-1 is closely related to modern Native American populations, which lends support to the Beringia hypothesis for the settlement of the Americas.The Clovis culture was replaced by several more localized regional societies from the Younger Dryas cold-climate period onward. Post-Clovis cultures include the Folsom tradition, Gainey, Suwannee-Simpson, Plainview-Goshen, Cumberland, and Redstone. Each of these is thought to derive directly from Clovis, in some cases apparently differing only in the length of the fluting on their projectile points. Although this is generally held to be the result of normal cultural change through time, numerous other reasons have been suggested as driving forces to explain changes in the archaeological record, such as the Younger Dryas postglacial climate change which exhibited numerous faunal extinctions.

After the discovery of several Clovis sites in eastern North America in the 1930s, the Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants who created a widespread culture in the New World. However, this theory has been challenged, in the opinion of many archaeologists, by several archaeological discoveries, including sites such as Cactus Hill in Virginia, Paisley Caves in the Summer Lake Basin of Oregon, the Topper site in Allendale County, South Carolina, Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Pennsylvania, the Friedkin site in Texas, Cueva Fell in Chile, and especially, Monte Verde, also in Chile. The oldest claimed human archaeological site in the Americas is the Pedra Furada hearths, a site in Brazil that precedes the Clovis culture and the other sites already mentioned by 19,000 to 30,000 years. This claim has become an issue of contention between North American archaeologists and their South American and European counterparts, who disagree on whether it is conclusively proven to be an older human site.

Genetics and the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon, the founding document of the Latter Day Saint movement and one of the four books of scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), is an account of three groups of people. According to the book, two of these groups originated from ancient Israel. There is generally no direct support amongst mainstream historians and archaeologists for the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Since the late 1990s pioneering work of Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and others, scientists have developed techniques that attempt to use genetic markers to indicate the ethnic background and history of individual people. The data developed by these mainstream scientists tell us that the Native Americans have very distinctive DNA markers, and that some of them are most similar, among old world populations, to the DNA of people anciently associated with the Altay Mountains area of central Asia. These evidences from a genetic perspective agree with a large body of archaeological, anthropological, and linguistic conclusions that Native American peoples' ancestors migrated from Asia at the latest 16,500–13,000 years ago. (See Settlement of the Americas and Genetic history of indigenous peoples of the Americas).

The mainstream scientific consensus about the origin of the ancient Americans and peoples is at odds with the claims put forth in the Book of Mormon, though Mormon apologists have made efforts to reconcile these contradictions. The LDS Church released an essay on their website titled "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies". The conclusion states, "Much as critics and defenders of the Book of Mormon would like to use DNA studies to support their views, the evidence is simply inconclusive."

Luther Cressman

Luther Sheeleigh Cressman (October 24, 1897 – April 4, 1994) was an American field archaeologist, most widely known for his discoveries at Paleo-Indians sites such as Fort Rock Cave and Paisley Caves, sites related to the early settlement of the Americas.

Monte Verde

Monte Verde is an archaeological site in southern Chile, located near Puerto Montt, Southern Chile, which has been dated to as early as 18,500 cal BP (16,500 BC). Previously, the widely accepted date for early occupation at Monte Verde was ~14,500 years cal BP. This dating added to the evidence showing that the human settlement of the Americas pre-dates the Clovis culture by roughly 1000 years. This contradicts the previously accepted "Clovis first" model which holds that settlement of the Americas began after 13,500 cal BP. The Monte Verde findings were initially dismissed by most of the scientific community, but the evidence then became more accepted in archaeological circles.Paleoecological evidence of the coastal landscape's ability to sustain human life further supports a "coastal migration" model. Dating of rock surfaces and animal bones suggests the coastal corridor was deglaciated and became habitable after 17,000 years BP. Although testing coastal migration theories can be difficult due to sea level rise since the last glacial maximum, archaeologists are increasingly willing to accept the possibility that the initial settlement of the Americas occurred via coastlines.

Mount Multnomah

Mount Multnomah is an invalidated hypothetical ancient volcano postulated in a 1925 publication by geologist Edwin T. Hodge. It was proposed to exist in central Oregon at the present day location of the Three Sisters region. It was estimated to have been around 16,000-foot (4,900 m) tall, and was believed destroyed in a fashion similar to Mount Mazama's eruption resulting in what is now Crater Lake in southern Oregon.

In 1924, Hodge performed fieldwork around the area and concluded that the three adjacent volcanoes and their foothills were once part of a single giant volcano. His conclusion was bolstered by oral history from the local Warm Springs tribe, which recounted the massive eruption and collapse of the ancient peak.

Klah Klahnee, the Three Sisters, was once the biggest and highest mountain of all; it could be seen for many miles. One time the earth shook for days, and the mountain boiled inside. It boiled over, and hot rocks came out of the top of it. Flames and smoke rose high in the air. Red hot stones were thrown out in every direction. Many villages and many Indians were buried by the rocks. When the mountain became quiet again, most of it was gone. Only three points were left.The date of eruption that Hodge calculated using the potassium-argon method was 25 million to 27 million years ago. This predates the earliest estimates of human presence in North America (see Settlement of the Americas) and even the earliest known humans (see Archaic Homo sapiens).

Years later, Howel Williams, then dean of Cascade volcanologists, concluded that each of the Three Sisters and their surrounding mountains were unique and did not represent remains of a single collapsed structure.

New World

The New World is one of the names used for the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas (including nearby islands such as those of the Caribbean and Bermuda), and Oceania.

The term originated in the early 16th century after Europeans made landfall in what would later be called the Americas in the age of discovery, expanding the geographical horizon of classical geographers, who had thought of the world as consisting of Africa, Europe, and Asia, collectively now referred to as the Old World (a.k.a. Afro-Eurasia).

The phrase gained prominence after the publication of a pamphlet titled Mundus Novus attributed to Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.The Americas were also referred to as the "fourth part of the world".

Non-Hispanic whites

Non-Hispanic whites (commonly referred to as white Americans), are European Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, and North African Americans as defined by the United States Census Bureau.Americans of European ancestry represent ethnic groups that combined account for more than half of the share of the white population are Germans, Irish, and English.

In the United States, this population was first derived from English (and, to a lesser degree, French) settlement of the Americas, as well as settlement by other Europeans such as the Germans and Dutch that began in the 17th century (see History of the United States). Continued growth since the early 19th century is attributed to sustained very high birth rates alongside relatively low death rates among settlers and natives alike as well as periodically massive immigration from European countries, especially Germany, Ireland, England, Italy, Greece, Sweden and Norway, as well as Poland, Russia, and many more countries. It typically refers to an English-speaking American in distinction to Spanish speakers in Mexico and the Southwestern states; German speakers (Amish) in North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; and French speakers in Quebec, New England, and Louisiana.

In 2011, for the first time in U.S. history, non-Hispanic whites accounted for under half of the births in the country, with 49.6% of total births. Over 50% of children under age one are minorities. Between 2015 and 2016 for the first time in American history the population of non-Hispanic whites declined by 0.005% and then declined by 0.016% between 2016 and 2017 to a historic low of 60.7%. Between 2042 and 2045, the United States is projected to be a majority minority nation and by 2060 the white population will decline by roughly 16.1 million.

On Your Knees Cave

On Your Knees Cave (49-PET-408) is an archaeological site located in southeastern Alaska (Prince of Wales Island). Human remains were found at the site in 1996 that dated between 9,730 ±60 and 9,880±50 radiocarbon YBP (Years Before Present) or a calendrical date of 10,300 YBP. In addition to human skeletal remains, stone tools and animal bones were discovered. DNA analyses performed on the human skeletal remains document the presence of mitochondrial haplogroup D which occurs widely in the Americas. Isotopic analysis indicated that the individual had a primarily marine based diet.

Paiján culture

The Paiján culture was an archaeological culture that developed on the northern coast of Peru between 8,700 and 5,900 BCE. It was first described by Peruvian archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle in the 1940s from the Pampa de los Fósiles site. Later research, mainly by French archaeologist Claude Chauchat, identified dozens of open air sites, which include camps, workshops and quarries.Generally, this culture would belong to the Lithic stage of cultural development.

Painting in the Americas before European colonization

Painting in the Americas before European colonization is the Precolumbian painting traditions of the Americas. Painting was a relatively widespread, popular and diverse means of communication and expression for both religious and utilitarian purpose throughout the regions of the Western Hemisphere. During the period before and after European exploration and settlement of the Americas; including North America, Central America, South America and the islands of the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the West Indies, the Antilles, the Lesser Antilles and other island groups, indigenous native cultures produced a wide variety of visual arts, including painting on textiles, hides, rock and cave surfaces, bodies especially faces, ceramics, architectural features including interior murals, wood panels, and other available surfaces. Many of the perishable surfaces, such as woven textiles, typically have not been preserved, but Precolumbian painting on ceramics, walls, and rocks have survived more frequently.

The oldest known paintings in the South America are the cave paintings of Caverna da Pedra Pintada, in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest that date back 11,200 years. The earliest known painting in North America is the Cooper Bison Skull found near Fort Supply, Oklahoma, dated to 10,200 BCE.


The Paleo-Eskimo (also pre-Thule or pre-Inuit) were the peoples who inhabited the Arctic region from Chukotka (e.g., Chertov Ovrag) in present-day Russia across North America to Greenland prior to the arrival of the modern Inuit (Eskimo) and related cultures. The first known Paleo-Eskimo cultures developed by 2500 BCE, but were gradually displaced in most of the region, with the last one, the Dorset culture, disappearing around 1500 CE.

Paleo-Eskimo groups included the Pre-Dorset; the Saqqaq culture of Greenland (2500 – 800 BCE); the Independence I and Independence II cultures of northeastern Canada and Greenland (c. 2400 – 1800 BCE and c. 800 – 1 BCE); the Groswater of Labrador and Nunavik, and the Dorset culture (500 BCE to 1500 CE), which spread across Arctic North America. The Dorset were the last major Paleo-Eskimo culture in the Arctic before the migration east from present-day Alaska of the Thule, the ancestors of the modern Inuit.

Pre-Columbian era

The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continent, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period.

While the phrase "pre-Columbian era" literally refers only to the time preceding Christopher Columbus's voyages of 1492, in practice the phrase is usually used to denote the entire history of indigenous American cultures until those cultures were extinguished, diminished, or extensively altered by Europeans, even if this happened long after Columbus. The alternative terms precontact, precolonial, or prehistoric Americas are also used; in Latin America, the usual term is pre-Hispanic.

Many pre-Columbian civilizations were marked by permanent settlements, cities, agriculture, civic and monumental architecture, major earthworks, and complex societal hierarchies. Some of these civilizations had long faded by the time of the first permanent European colonies and the arrival of enslaved Africans (c. late 16th–early 17th centuries), and are known only through archaeological investigations and oral history. Other civilizations were contemporary with the colonial period and were described in European historical accounts of the time. A few, such as the Maya civilization, had their own written records. Because many Christian Europeans of the time viewed such texts as pagan, men like Diego de Landa burned them, even while seeking to preserve native histories. Only a few hidden documents have survived in their original languages, while others were transcribed or dictated into Spanish, giving modern historians glimpses of ancient culture and knowledge.

Many indigenous American peoples continue traditional practices while evolving and adapting to the modern world.

Sechin Bajo

Sechin Bajo is a large archaeological site with ruins dating from 3500 BCE to 1300 BCE, making it one of the oldest centers of civilization in the Western Hemisphere. Sechin Bajo is located in the valley of the Sechin River, about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from the Pacific Ocean and about 330 kilometres (210 mi) northwest of Lima, Peru. Sechin Bajo is one ruin among many located in close proximity to each other in the valleys of the Casma and Sechin Rivers.

In 2008, a German and Peruvian archaeological team, headed by Peter Fuchs, announced that a circular plaza, 10–12 meters (11–13 yd) in diameter and constructed of rocks and rectangular adobe bricks had been found at Sechin Bajo. Radiocarbon dating indicated that plaza was constructed in 3500 BCE. A nearby 2 meter-tall (2 yards) frieze was dated at 3600 BCE. The plaza and the frieze are the two oldest examples of monumental architecture discovered thus far in the Americas. Sechin Bajo may contend with sites of Norte Chico as the oldest urban settlement of the Americas.

Willem Adelaar

Willem F. H. Adelaar (born at The Hague in 1948) is a Dutch linguist specializing in Native American languages, specially those of the Andes. He is Professor of indigenous American Linguistics and Cultures at Leiden University.He has written broadly about the Quechua, Aymara and Mapuche languages. His main works are his 2004 The languages of the Andes, an overview of the indigenous languages of the Andean region, which is considered a "classic" in the field. His Dutch language publications about the history and religion of the Inca and translations of Quechua chronicles have met with a broad public. A specialist on minority languages and language endangerment, he is also editor of UNESCO's "Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger".In 1994 he was given a newly created Professorial chair in "Languages and Cultures of Native America" at the University of Leiden. He is noted for his belief that the linguistic diversity of the Americas suggests a deeper history of population than the standard account of the Settlement of the Americas.In 2014 he was made Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion in recognition of his scientific achievements. He also holds an honorary doctorate at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos of Lima, Peru.

Xalnene Tuff footprints

The Xalnene Tuff footprints are a geological academic controversy, concerning a 2005 discovery of 269 markings in a geological layer in the Valsequillo Basin, south of the city of Puebla, Mexico, which were originally interpreted to be human and animal footprints. The layer was variously dated to 40,000 years Before Present (BP) or 1.3 million years BP, both dates significantly before the currently accepted date for the settlement of the Americas. A 2010 study argues that the marks were made by recent mining activities.

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