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Fladmark + 40: What Have We Learned about a Potential Pacific Coast Peopling of the Americas?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 October 2019

Todd J. Braje*
Department of Anthropology, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA92182, USA
Jon M. Erlandson
Museum of Natural & Cultural History and Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, 1680 E. 15th Avenue, Eugene, OR97403-1224, USA
Torben C. Rick
Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 10th Street & Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC20560, USA
Loren Davis
Department of Anthropology, Oregon State University, 2250 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR97331, USA
Tom Dillehay
Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University, 124 Garland Hall, Nashville, TN37235, USA; Departamento de Arqueologia, Universidad Austral de Chile, Puerto Montt, Chile
Daryl W. Fedje
Hakai Institute, PO Box 25039, Campbell River, British ColumbiaV9W 0B7, Canada
Duane Froese
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AlbertaT6G 2E3, Canada
Amy Gusick
Department of Anthropology, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA90007, USA
Quentin Mackie
Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria, British ColumbiaV8W 2Y2, Canada
Duncan McLaren
Hakai Institute, PO Box 25039, Campbell River, British ColumbiaV9W 0B7, Canada
Bonnie Pitblado
Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma, 455 West Lindsey, Dale Hall Tower 521, Norman, OK73019, USA
Jennifer Raff
Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas, 622 Fraser Hall, 1415 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence, KS66045-7556, USA
Leslie Reeder-Myers
Department of Anthropology, Temple University, 1115 W. Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA19122, USA
Michael R. Waters
Center for the Study of the First Americans, Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, 340 Spence Street, College Station, TX77843-4352, USA
(, corresponding author)


Forty years ago, Knut Fladmark (1979) argued that the Pacific Coast offered a viable alternative to the ice-free corridor model for the initial peopling of the Americas—one of the first to support a “coastal migration theory” that remained marginal for decades. Today, the pre-Clovis occupation at the Monte Verde site is widely accepted, several other pre-Clovis sites are well documented, investigations of terminal Pleistocene subaerial and submerged Pacific Coast landscapes have increased, and multiple lines of evidence are helping decode the nature of early human dispersals into the Americas. Misconceptions remain, however, about the state of knowledge, productivity, and deglaciation chronology of Pleistocene coastlines and possible technological connections around the Pacific Rim. We review current evidence for several significant clusters of early Pacific Coast archaeological sites in North and South America that include sites as old or older than Clovis. We argue that stemmed points, foliate points, and crescents (lunates) found around the Pacific Rim may corroborate genomic studies that support an early Pacific Coast dispersal route into the Americas. Still, much remains to be learned about the Pleistocene colonization of the Americas, and multiple working hypotheses are warranted.

Hace cuarenta años, Knut Fladmark (1979) argumentó que la costa del Oceano Pacífico ofrecía una alternativa viable a la ruta de Corredor sin Hielo para la población inicial de las Américas. El era una de las primeras en apoyar una “teoría de la migración costera,” lo que permaneció marginal durante décadas. Hoy en día, la ocupación pre-Clovis en el sitio de Monte Verde es ampliamente aceptada, varios otros sitios pre-Clovis están bien documentados, las investigaciones de los sitios terrestres del Pleistoceno terminal y los paisajes sumergidos de la costa del Pacífico han aumentado, y múltiples líneas de evidencia están ayudando a descifrar los patrones de dispersion humana temprana en las Américas. Sin embargo, siguen existiendo conceptos erróneos sobre el estado del conocimiento, la productividad y la cronología de la deglaciación de las líneas costeras del Pleistoceno y las posibles conexiones tecnológicas a lo largo del Pacífico. Revisamos la evidencia actual de varios agrupaciones importantes de sitios arqueológicos de la costa del Pacífico temprano en América del Norte y del Sur que incluyen yacimientos más antiguos o más antiguos que Clovis. Argumentamos que los puntos proyectiles de pedúnculo, puntos foliares y crecientes (lunados) encontrados cerca del borde del Pacífico pueden corroborar los estudios genómicos que respaldan una ruta temprana de dispersión por la costa del Pacífico a través de las Américas. Queda mucho por aprender acerca de la colonización del Pleistoceno en las Américas y se justifican múltiples hipótesis de trabajo.

Copyright © 2019 by the Society for American Archaeology

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