Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

New Perspectives on the Clovis vs. Pre-Clovis Controversy

  • David S. Whitley (a1) and Ronald I. Dorn (a2)

Abstract

We consider the Clovis vs. pre-Clovis debate from three perspectives: migration models; petroglyph and surface-artifact ages; and scientific method. First, we test the hypothesis that a Clovis migration can account for the temporal and spatial distribution of South American Paleoindian sites “accepted” by Clovis-first advocates. Using a Clovis-first model, site ages are underpredicted by approximately 1,500 years, suggesting that the Clovis hypothesis cannot be reconciled with accepted empirical data. Second, we present North American accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C minimum-limiting ages from petroglyphs and surface artifacts that demonstrate continued support for a pre-Clovis occupation of the dryland west, as well as a Beringian entry into the hemisphere. Third, the debate has been confounded by a widespread misstatement of the problem. Though Clovis occupation is a “solved” issue, the competing hypotheses are whether the first migration was Clovis or pre-Clovis; the presence of Clovis sites is simply a necessary prediction of both migration theories. The empirical implications of the Clovis-first hypothesis are virtually untested. Scientifically evaluating the first peopling controversy requires scrutinizing the empirical test implications and logical coherency of both competing hypotheses.

Resumen

En este artículo consideramos el debate clovis vs. pre-clovis desde tres perspectivas: migración, edad de los artefactos de superficie, y método científico. Primero, a pesar de que la opinion general sostiene que las poblaciones clovis estuvieron presentes en Norte América, nosotros examinamos la hipótesis de que una migración clovis podría explicar la distribución espacial y temporal de los sitios Paleoindios aceptados. El modelo “clovis primero” estima que las edades de los sitios son 1.500 años más tempranas, lo cual sugiere que las poblaciones clovis no pudieron haber ocupado inclusive aquellos sitios Paleoindios sudamericanos que han sido aceptados por los defensores de “clovis primero.” Segundo, presentamos una serie de fechas de AMS 14C límite mínimo, extraídas de petroglifos y artefactos superficiales que sugieren una ocupación pre-clovis en las tierras áridas del oeste norteamericano, así como una entrada en este hemisferio a través del Estrecho de Beringe. Tercero, este debate ha sido complicado por una distorsión generalizada del problema. Aunque la ocupación clovis es un tópico “resuelto” las hipótesis contrarias discuten si la primera migración fue clovis o pre-clovis; la presencia de sitios clovis es simplemente una predicción necesaria en ambas teorías de migración. Las implicaciones empíricas de “clovis primero” no han sido examinadas. La evaluación científica de la controversia de la primera población requiere un escrutinio de las implicaciones empíricas y coherencia lógica de estas hipótesis contrarias.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Ammerman, A. J., Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., and Wagener, D. K. 1976 Toward the Estimation of Population Growth in Old World Prehistory. In Demographic Anthropology: Quantitative Approaches, edited by Zubrow, E. B., pp. 2762. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Anthony, D. W. 1990 Migration in Archeology: The Baby and the Bathwater. American Anthropologist 92: 895914.
Bahn, P. G. 1993 50, 000-Year-Old Americans of Pedra Furada. Nature 362: 114115.
Bahn, P. G., and Muller-Beck, H. 1991 Concerned Readers. Archaeology 44: 1011.
Baker, V. R. 1983 Late Pleistocene Fluvial Systems. In Late Quaternary Environment of the United States. Volume 1. The Late Pleistocene, edited by Porter, S. C., pp. 115119. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Bamforth, D. B., and Dorn, R. I. 1988 On the Nature and the Antiquity of the Manix Lake Industry. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 10: 209226.
Bamforth, D. B., Dorn, R. I., Macko, M. E., and Weil, E. B. 1986 Tradition & Transmission. Prehistoric Stone Procurement & Tool Production in the Mojave Desert, California. Results of the Intermountain Power Project Data Recovery Program in California. Applied Conservation Technology, Westminster, California.
Bartlein, P. J., Anderson, P. M., Edwards, M. E., and McDowell, P. F. 1991 A Framework for Interpreting Paleoclimatic Variations in Eastern Beringia. Quaternary International 10-12: 7383.
Beals, R. L. 1957 Father Acosta and the First Peopling of the New World. American Antiquity 23: 182183.
Beck, C. (editor) 1993 Dating in Surface Context. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Binford, L. R., and Chasko, W. J., Jr. 1976 Nunamiut Demographic History: A Provocative Case. In Demographic Anthropology: Quantitative Approaches, edited by Zubrow, E. B., pp. 63144. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Birdsell, J. 1957 Some Population Problems Involving Pleistocene Man. Cold Springs Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology 22: 4769.
Bryan, A. L. 1992 The Fluted Point Tradition in the Americas— One of Several Adaptations to Late Pleistocene American Environments. In Clovis: Origins and Adaptations, edited by Bonnichsen, R. and Turnmire, K. L., pp. 1533. Center for the Study of First Americans, Corvallis, Oregon.
Bull, W. B. 1991 Geomorphic Responses to Climatic Change. Oxford University, Oxford.
Butzer, K. W. 1988 A “Marginality” Model to Explain Major Spatial and Temporal Gaps in the Old and New World Pleistocene Settlement Records. Geoarchaeology 3: 193203.
Butzer, K. W. 1991 An Old World Perspective on Potential Mid-Wisconsin Settlement of the Americas. In The First Americans: Search and Research, edited by Dillehay, T. D. and Meltzer, D. J., pp. 137156. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.
Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., Menozzi, P., and Piazza, A. 1993 Demic Expansions and Human Evolution. Science 259: 639646.
Copi, I. M. 1982 Introduction to Logic. 6th ed. Macmillan, New York.
Dillehay, T. D. 1989 Paleoenvironment and Site Context. Monte Verde: A Late Pleistocene Settlement in Chile, vol. I. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.
Dillehay, T. D. 1991 Disease Ecology and Initial Human Migration. In The First Americans: Search and Research, edited by Dillehay, T. D. and Meltzer, D. J., pp. 231266. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.
Dillehay, T. D., Calderon, G. A., Politis, G. and de M. C. Beltrao, M. C. 1992 Earliest Hunters and Gatherers of South America. Journal of World Prehistory 6: 145204.
Dincauze, D. F. 1991 Review of Monte Verde, A Late Pleistocene Settlement in Chile, by T. Dillehay. Journal of Field Archaeology 18: 116119.
Dixon, E. J. 1993 Quest for the Origins of the First Americans. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Dorn, R. I. 1986 Rock Varnish as an Indicator of Aeolian Environmental Change. In Aeolian Geomorphology, edited by Nickling, W. G., pp. 291307. Allen and Unwin, London.
Dorn, R. I. 1990 Quaternary Alkalinity Fluctuations Recorded in Rock Varnish Micro-laminations. Palaeogeography, Paleoclimatology, Palaeoecology 76: 291310.
Dorn, R. I. 1991 Final Report on Rock Varnish Dating of Archaeological Artifacts Collected from Six Sites on the Kern River Pipeline Project. Manuscript on file, Dames and Moore, San Diego.
Dorn, R. I. 1992 Paleoenvironmental Signals in Rock Varnish on Petroglyphs. American Indian Rock Art XVIII: 118.
Dorn, R. I. 1993a Dating Petroglyphs with a Three-Tiered Varnish Approach. In New Light on Old Art: Recent Advances in Hunter-Gatherer Rock Art Research, edited by Whitley, D. S. and L, L.. Loendorf. Monograph No. 36. Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles, in press.
Dorn, R. I. 1993b Dating Rock Varnish. In Dating in Surface Context, edited by Beck, C., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in press.
Dorn, R. I., and DeNiro, M. J. 1985 Stable Carbon Isotope Ratios of Rock Varnish Organic Matter: A New Paleoenvironmental Indicator. Science 227: 14721474.
Dorn, R. I., and Phillips, F. M. 1991 Surface Exposure Dating: Review and Critical Evaluation. Physical Geography 12: 303333.
Dorn, R. I., Jones, A. T., Bock, A. J., and Bock, F. G. 1993 Preliminary Data on Radiocarbon Dating of Petroglyphs at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. American Indian Rock Art XIX: 3139.
Dorn, R. I., Clarkson, P. B., Nobbs, M. F., Loendorf, L. L., and Whitley, D. S. 1992 New Approach to the Radiocarbon Dating of Rock Varnish, with Examples from Drylands. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 82: 136151.
Dorn, R. I., Jull, A. J. T., Donahue, D. J., Linick, T. W., and Toolin, L. J. 1989 Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Radiocarbon Dating of Rock Varnish. Geological Society of America Bulletin 101: 13631372.
Dorn, R. I., Turrin, B., Jull, A. J. T., Donahue, D. J., Linick, T. W., and Toolin, L. J. 1987 Radiocarbon and Cation-ratio Ages for Rock Varnish on Tioga and Tahoe Morainal Boulders of Pine Creek, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California, and their Paleoclimatic Implications. Quaternary Research 28: 3849.
Dorn, R. I., Cahill, T. A., Eldred, R. A., Gill, T. E., Kusko, B. H., Bach, A., and Elliot-Fisk, D. L. 1990 Dating Rock Varnishes by the Cation-Ratio Method with PIXE, ICP and the Electron Microprobe. International Journal of PIXE 1: 157195.
Dorn, R. I., Bamforth, D. B., Cahill, T. A., Dohrenwend, J. C., Turrin, B. D., Donahue, D. J., Jull, A. J. T., Long, A., Macko, M. E., Weil, E. B., 1986 Cation-Ratio and Accelerator Radiocarbon Dating of Rock Varnish on Mojave Artifacts and Landforms. Science 231: 830833.
Farr, J. 1983 Popper's Hermeneutics. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 13: 157176.
Fladmark, K. R. 1979 Routes: Alternative Migration Corridors for Early Man in North America. American Antiquity 44: 5569.
Francis, J. 1993 Cation-Ratio Dating and Chronological Variation Within Dinwoody Tradition Rock Art in Northwestern Wyoming. In New Light on Old Art: Recent Advances in Hunter-Gatherer Rock Art Research, edited by Whitley, D. S. and L, L.. Loendorf. Monograph No. 36. Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles, in press.
Gale, S. J. 1992 Long-Term Landscape Evolution in Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 17: 323343.
Grayson, D. K. 1984 Explaining Pleistocene Extinctions: Some Thoughts on the Structure of the Debate. In Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, edited by Martin, P. S. and Klein, R. G., pp. 807823. University of Arizona, Tucson.
Grayson, D. K. 1988 Perspectives on the First Americans. In Americans Before Columbus: Ice Age Origins, edited by Carlisle, R., pp. 107123. Ethnology Monographs No. 12. Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.
Grayson, D. K. 1989 The Chronology of North American Late Pleistocene Extinctions. Journal of Archaeological Science 16: 153165.
Gruhn, R., and Bryan, A. L. 1991 A Review of Lynch's Descriptions of South American Sites. American Antiquity 56: 342348.
Guidon, N. 1986 Las Unidades Culturales de Sao Raimundo Nonato— Sudeste del Estado de Piaui— Brasil. In New Evidence for the Pleistocene Peopling of the New World, edited by Bryan, A. L., pp. 157172. Center for the Study of Early Man, Orono.
Guidon, N., and Arnaud, B. 1991 The Chronology of the New World: Two Faces of One Reality. World Archaeology 23(2): 167178.
Guidon, N., and Delibrias, G. 1985 Inventaire des sites Sud-Americains anterieurs a 12 000 Ans. VAnthropologic 89: 385408.
Guidon, N., and Delibrias, G. 1986 Carbon-14 Dates Point to Man in the Americas 32, 000 Years Ago. Nature 321: 769771.
Hassan, F. A. 1981 Demographic Archaeology. Academic Press, New York.
Hayden, J. 1976 Pre-Altithermal Archaeology in the Sierra Pinacate, Sonora, Mexico. American Antiquity 41: 274289.
Haynes, C. V., Jr. 1966 Elephant-Hunting in North America. Scientific American 214(6): 104112.
Haynes, C. V., Jr. 1969 The Earliest Americans. Science 166: 709715.
Haynes, C. V., Jr. 1980 The Clovis Culture. Canadian Journal of Anthropology 1: 115121.
Haynes, C. V., Jr. 1984 Stratigraphy and Late Pleistocene Extinction in the United States. In Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, edited by Martin, P. M. and Klein, R. G., pp. 345353. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
Haynes, C. V., Jr. 1987 Clovis Origin Update. The Kiva 52: 8393.
Haynes, C. V., Jr. 1991a Geoarchaeological and Paleohydrological Evidence for a Clovis-Age Drought in North American and Its Bearing on Extinction. Quaternary Research 35: 438450.
Haynes, C. V., Jr. 1991b More on Meadowcroft Radiocarbon Chronology. The Review of Archaeology 12: 814.
Hempel, C. G. 1966 Philosophy of Natural Science. Prentice-Hall, Englewood-Cliffs
Hesse, M. 1991 Archaeology and the Science of the Concrete. In The Limitations of Archaeological Knowledge, edited by Shay, T. and Clottes, J., pp. 107113. Etudes de Recherches Archeologiques de l'Universite de Liege No. 49. Liege, France.
Hoffecker, J. F., Powers, W. R., and Goebel, T. 1993 The Colonization of Beringia and the Peopling of the New World. Science 259: 4653.
Jelinek, A. J. 1992 Perspectives from the Old World on the Habitation of the New. American Antiquity 57: 345347.
Kelley, J. H., and Hanen, M. P. 1988 Archaeology and the Methodology of Science. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Kelly, R. L., and Todd, L. C. 1988 Coming into the Country: Early Paleoindian Hunting and Mobility. American Antiquity 53: 231244.
Knox, J. C. 1983 Response of River Systems to Holocene Climates. In Late Quaternary Environment of the United States. Volume 2. The Holocene, edited by Wright, H. R., Jr., pp. 2641. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Lakatos, I. 1969 Criticism and the Logic of Scientific Research Programmes. Proceedings of the Aristotlean Society 69: 149186.
Lee, R. B. 1972 Population Growth and the Beginnings of Sedentary Life Among the !Kung Bushmen. In Population Growth: Anthropological Implications, edited by Spooner, B., pp. 329342. MIT Press, Cambridge.
Lee, R. B. 1979 The IKung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society. Cambridge University, Cambridge.
Lewis-Williams, J. D., and Loubser, J. H. N. 1986 Deceptive Appearances: A Critique of Southern African Rock Art Studies. Advances in World Archaeology 5: 253289.
Lynch, T. F. 1980 Guitarrero Cave: Early Man in the Andes. Academic Press, New York.
Lynch, T. F. 1990 Glacial-Age Man in South America? A Critical Review. American Antiquity 55: 1236. Martin, P. S.
Lynch, T. F. 1973 The Discovery of America. Science 179: 969974.
Meltzer, D. J. 1989 Why Don't We Know When the First People Came to North America? American Antiquity 54: 471490.
Meltzer, D. J., and Mead, J. I. 1985 Dating Late Pleistocene Extinctions: Theoretical Issues, Analytical Biases, and Substantive Results. In Environments and Extinctions: Man in Late Glacial North America, edited by Mead, J. I. and Meltzer, D. J., pp. 145174. Center for the Study of Early Man, Orono.
Mosiman, J. E., and Martin, P. S. 1975 Simulating Overkill by Paleoindians. American Scientist 63: 304313.
Nagy, B., Nagy, L. A., Rigali, M. J., Jones, W. D., Krinsley, D. H., and Sinclair, N. A. 1991 Rock Varnish in the Sonoran Desert: Microbiologically Mediated Accumulation of Manganiferous Sediments. Sedimentology 38: 11531171.
Newton-Smith, W. 1981 The Rationality of Science. Routledge and Regan Paul, London.
Nobbs, M. F., and Dorn, R. I. 1993 New Surface Exposure Ages for Petroglyphs from the Olary Province, South Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 18: 1839.
Parenti, F. 1993 Le gisement quaternaire de la Toca do Boqueirao da Pedra Furada (Piaui, Bresil) dans le contexte de la prehistoire americaine. Fouilles, stratigraphie, chronologic evolution culturelle. Ph. D. thesis, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
Polanyi, M. 1958 Personal Knowledge. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Popper, K. 1966 The Open Society and Its Enemies, vol. II. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Randolph, J., and Dahlstrom, M. 1977 Archaeological Test Excavations at Bernard Creek Rock Shelter. University of Idaho Research Manuscript Series No. 12. Moscow.
Rick, J. W. 1980 Prehistoric Hunters of the High Andes. Academic Press, New York.
Rick, J. W. 1987 Dates as Data: An Examination of the Peruvian Preceramic Record. American Antiquity 52: 5573.
Ricks, M. F., and Cannon, W. J. 1985 The Lake County, Oregon, Rock Art Inventory: A Data Base for Rock Art Research. American Indian Rock Art XII, in press.
Rudner, R. S. 1966 Philosophy of Social Science. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Salmon, M. 1982 Philosophy and Archaeology. Academic Press, New York.
Schmitz, P. I. 1987 Prehistoric Hunters and Gatherers of Brazil. Journal of World Prehistory 1: 53126. Wallace
Schurr, T. G., Ballinger, S. W., Gan, Y. Y., Hodge, J. A., Meniwether, D. A., Lawrence, D. N., Knowler, W. C., Weiss, K. M., and C., D. 1990 Amerindian Mitochondrial DNAs Have Rare Asian Mutations at High Frequencies, Suggesting They Derive from Four Primary Maternal Lineages. American Journal of Human Genetics 46: 613623.
Semenza, J-L., 1984 Technological Analysis ofCA-SBR-5193: Bifacesfrom a Prehistoric Quarry/Workshop in the Mohave Sink, San Bernardino County, California. Unpublished Master's thesis, Department of Anthropology, California State University, Los Angeles.
Spaulding, W. G. 1990 Vegetation and Climatic Development of the Mojave Desert: The Last Glacial Maximum to the Present. In Packrat Middens: The Last 40, 000 Years of Biotic Change, edited by Betancourt, J. L., T. R. Van Devender, and Martin, P. S., pp. 166199. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
Stuiver, M., and Reimer, P. J. 1993 Extended 14C Data Base and Revised Calib 3. 0 14C Age Calibration Program. Radiocarbon 35: 215230.
Thomas, D. H., and Thomas, T. C. 1972 New Data on Rock Art Chronology in the Central Great Basin. Tebiwa 15(1): 6471.
Torroni, A., Schurr, T. G., Yuan, C-C., Szathmary, E. J. E., Williams, R. C., Schanfield, M. S., Troup, G. A., Knowler, W. C., Lawrence, D. N., Weiss, K. M., and Wallace, D. C. 1992 Native American Mitochondrial DNA Analysis Indicates that the Amerind and Nadene Populations Were Founded by Two Independent Migrations. Genetics 130: 153162.
Turner, C. G. II 1986 The First Americans: The Dental Evidence. National Geographic Research 2: 3746.
Wallace, D. C, Garrison, K., and Knowler, W. C. 1985 Dramatic Founder Effects in Amerindian Mitochondrial DNAs. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 68: 149155.
Watchman, A. 1992a Investigating the Cation-Ratio Calibration Curve: Evidence from South Australia. Rock Art Research 9: 106110.
Watchman, A. 1992b Doubtful Dates for Karolta Engravings. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1992(1): 5155.
Webb, T., III, and Bartlein, P. J. 1992 Global Changes During the Last 3 Million Years: Climatic Controls and Biotic Responses. Annual Review Ecology Systematics 23: 141173.
Whitley, D. S., and Dorn, R. I. 1987 Rock Art Chronology in Eastern California. World Archaeology 19: 150164.
Whitley, D. S., and Dorn, R. I. 1988 Cation-Ratio Dating of Petroglyphs Using PIXE. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B35: 410414.
Whitley, D. S., and Dorn, R. I. 1993 Chronometrics and Rock Art in the Great Basin: Implications for Interpretation and Style. Manuscript on file, Rock Art Archive, Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles.
Young, D. A., and Bettinger, R. L. 1992 The Numic Spread: A Computer Simulation. American Antiquity 57: 8599.
Young, R., and McDougall, I. 1993 Long-Term Landscape Evolution: Early Miocene and Modern Rivers in Southern New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Geology 101: 3549.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

New Perspectives on the Clovis vs. Pre-Clovis Controversy

  • David S. Whitley (a1) and Ronald I. Dorn (a2)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.