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  • Print publication year: 1996
  • Online publication date: March 2008

3 - The first Americans and the differentiation of hunter-gatherer cultures

This chapter examines the evidence for the arrival of human beings in the Americas and the subsequent development of American Indian and Inuit hunter-gatherer societies in North America. It explains how archaeologists build chronologies for periods prior to written records, and how colleagues in other disciplines reconstruct the environmental contexts of ancient societies. The chapter discusses the archaeological evidence for Paleo-Indians. Pleistocene geology has done much to clarify the physiography of Paleo-Indian America, helping archaeologists to understand the very different physical settings Paleo-Indian sites had from those that are apparent today. The changes in the vegetational environment had profound ecological implications for animal species adapted to it, as well as for the human populations that depended upon both for subsistence. The Archaic cultures of eastern North America are defined by the adaptations they initially made to an environment that had changed dramatically from Ice Age conditions, as well as by subsequent trends over several thousand years.
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The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055550
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