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Archaeological Evidence for the Origin of the Plank Canoe in North America

  • Lynn H. Gamble (a1)

Abstract

Advanced maritime technology associated with long-distance exchange and intensified resource acquisition has been linked to the development of stratification and greater sociopolitical complexity in the Pacific Rim region. One such example is the emergence of hereditary chiefs among the Chumash Indians of southern California. Plank boats owned by an elite group of wealthy individuals and chiefs were an integral part of an elaborate economic system that was based on maritime exchange. An artifact assemblage associated with the construction, maintenance, and use of this watercraft was identified and analyzed. It included wooden planks, asphaltum plugs, asphaltum caulking, and chipped stone drills. Radiocarbon dates and other relative-dating techniques provide strong evidence that the plank canoe originated at least 1,300 years ago in southern California. This represents the earliest use of this type of watercraft in North America and probably in the New World. The timing of this innovation provides evidence that sociopolitical complexity developed in the region at least 500 years earlier than previously proposed.

Résumé

La avanzada tecnología marítima asociada con intercambio de larga distancia y la intensificación de la adquisición de recursos ha sido asociada al desarrollo de estratificación y aumento de la complejidad socio-politica en la región circum-Pacifica. Un ejemplo es la emergencia dejefes hereditarios dentro de los indios Chumash en California del sur. Botes de tabla pertenecientes a un grupo elite de individuos ricos y jefes fueron parte de un elaborado sistema económico basado en el intercambio marítimo. Una colección de artefactos que incluye tablas de madera, tapones y calafate de asfalto, y taladros depiedra asociada con la construcción, el mantenimiento y el uso de estos botes fue identificada y analizada.. Fechas de radiocarbono y otras técnicas defechados relativo proveen evidencias de canoas de tabla que se originan al menos 1,300 años antes del presente en el sur de California, esto representa el uso mas temprano de este tipo de barcos en Norteamérica y probablemente en el Nuevo Mundo. El momenta de esta innovación provee evidencia de que la complejidad socio-política en la región se desarrolló al menos 500 años antes de lo propuesto anteriormente.

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