Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 209-226 (1988). Copyright 1988. Used by permission.


The antiquity of human occupation in the New World undoubtedly is one of the major unresolved culture-historical problems in North American prehistory. On the one hand, a dominant position with a long history in American archaeology (cf. Wilmsen 1965) holds that human beings arrived in the New World at the close of the Pleistocene, no longer than 12,000 years ago, and that Clovis sites represent the oldest occupation in the Americas (Haynes 1970; Martin 1973; Waters 1985). On the other hand, a less widely accepted school of thought sees a variety of evidence for human occupation in the Americas well back into the Pleistocene, with dates ranging from 19,000 B.P. at Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pennsylvania (Stuckenrath et al 1984), to 32,000 B.P. at Boquiero do Sitio da Pedra in Brazil (Guidon and Delibrias 1986), and to at least 220,000 B.P. at Calico Hills in the California desert (Bischoffetal. 1981).

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