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Archaeological Roots of Human Diversity in the New World: A Compilation of Accurate and Precise Radiocarbon Ages from Earliest Sites

  • Michael K. Faught (a1)
Abstract

A compilation of 63 stratigraphic situations with evidence for human presence and two or more radiocarbon ages older than 10,500 B.P. has been processed to increase the accuracy and precision of the estimated ages and to compare their distributions at hemispheric scale. The compilation was developed to perceive patterns of population expansion and to plot early sites in their temporal and geographic order. The use of radiocarbon dates as data, criteria for inclusion in the compilation, the statistical processing methods used, and effects of controlling for precision and accuracy are described. The results indicate three earliest mean ages with great distance from each other in North and South America by 12,000 B.P., slightly later mean ages in Alaska, and the abrupt occurrence of Fluted and Fishtail Point sites at the beginning of the Younger Dryas climatic reversal (YD). One interpretation of these data is that there were different colonizing groups settling into different parts of the hemisphere in near-contemporaneity. Another is that Fluted and Fishtail Point sites may represent population relocations due to YD related ecological disturbances at the shorelines of those times. Corollary to the conclusions of early population diversity is the possibility of landfalls of people from areas other than Beringia in the late Pleistocene.

Résumé

Se han procesado una compilación de 63 contextos estratigráficos con evidencias de presencia humana y conjuntos de dos o más edades de radiocarbono mayores de 10.500 B.P., con el fin de incrementar la exactitud y precisión de las edades calculadas y de comparar sus distribuciones a escala hemisférica. La compilación se desarrolló para percibir patrones de expansión de la población y para medir los sitios más tempranos en su orden temporal y geográfico. Se describe el uso de fechas de radiocarbono como dato, los criterios para inclusión en la presente compilación, los métodos estadísticos de procesamiento utilizados y los efectos de control de precisión y exactitud. Los resultados indican tres edades medias tempranas a gran distancia unas de otras en América del Norte y del Sur hacia el 12.000 B.P., así como edades medias ligeramente posteriores en Alaska, y la ocurrencia abrupta de los sitios denominados Fluted y Fishtail Point a comienzos del reverso climático Younger Dryas (YD). Una interpretación de estos datos es que hubo grupos de colonización casi contemporáneos establecidos en diferentes partes del hemisferio. Otra interpretación es la de que los sitios Fluted y Fishtail Point pueden representar reubicaciones poblacionales debidas a los disturbios ecológicos relacionados con YD en las líneas costeras en dichos tiempos. Es corolario a las presentes conclusiones la posibilidad sobre la temprana diversidad poblacional de gentes procedentes de lugares distintos a Beringia en el Pleistoceno tardío.

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American Antiquity
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