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Evaluating claims for an early peopling of the Americas: experimental design and the Cerutti Mastodon site

  • Matthew Magnani (a1), Dalyn Grindle (a1), Sarah Loomis (a1), Alexander M. Kim (a1) (a2), Vera Egbers (a1) (a3), Jon Clindaniel (a1), Alexis Hartford (a1), Eric Johnson (a1), Sadie Weber (a1) and Wade Campbell (a1)...


In a 2017 article, Holen and colleagues reported evidence for a 130 000-year-old archaeological site in California. Acceptance of the site would overturn current understanding of global human migrations. The authors here consider Holen et al.’s conclusions through critical evaluation of their replicative experiments. Drawing on best practice in experimental archaeology, and paying particular attention to the authors’ chain of inference, Magnani et al. suggest that to argue convincingly for an early human presence at the Cerutti Mastodon site, Holen et al. must improve their analogical foundations, test alternative hypotheses, increase experimental control and quantify their results.


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