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A Journey to a New Land

People and Terrain
Post secondary Level Resources

Post Secondary Introduction

In the 1930's, archaeologists working at Blackwater Draw in eastern New Mexico uncovered evidence of an early population of big-game hunters who manufactured and used a distinctive type of fluted spear point that is now called a Clovis point. These spear points were found in association with the remains of Ice Age animals such as mammoth, camel and saber-tooth cat, providing firm evidence that human populations were present in the Americas at the same time as these now-extinct animals. Over the course of the next few decades, many more Clovis sites, radiocarbon dated to about 11,500 to 11,000 years BP, were identified across the North American mid-continent.

An earlier, "Pre-Clovis" settlement of the Americas is suggested by radiocarbon dates from sites such as Meadowcroft Rock Shelter in Pennsylvania and Monte Verde in Chile, although not all archaeologists accept these early dates. Nonetheless, archaeological evidence from both Clovis and pre-Clovis sites raises intriguing questions. When did people first arrive in the Americas? Where did they come from? How did they get here?

Archaeologists, geologists and other scientists have been searching for decades to find the answers to these questions. Research has been carried out across the Americas, from the west coast of British Columbia to the eastern seaboard, and from northern Alaska to southern Chile. As each piece of new evidence is uncovered, previous hypotheses are re-examined and new ones are proposed.

In the following pages we will look at some of the evidence and explore some of the ideas that have come out of this work. It is important to remember, however, that this website can document only a small portion of the research that has been done, and none of the information presented here can be considered as the final word on the subject. Both our current knowledge and the archaeological record are very much incomplete. Similar to the construction of a puzzle, the addition of each new piece of information has the potential to alter our perception of the picture as a whole.

So, with a critical eye, let us place the pieces of evidence on the table and discover what unfolds! Click on the links to begin your journey.

Ancient Environment


Some dates in this website are expressed in radiocarbon years (years BP), which are not the same as calendar years. Click on Radiocarbon Dating to learn how radiocarbon dating works, and the difference between radiocarbon years and calendar years.

QuickTime videos:

Dr. Paul Goldberg

Dr. Paul Goldberg
Department of Archaeology
Boston University