The First Americans: In Pursuit of Archaeology's Greatest Mystery

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Random House, 2002 - 328 pages
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Archaeologist J. M. Adovasio has spent the last thirty years at the center of one of our most fiery scientific debates: Who were the first humans in the Americas, and how and when did they get there?
H. L. Mencken said that "for every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." We all grew up thinking that the first Americans were a band of hunters who crossed the frozen Bering Strait during the Ice Age some twelve thousand years ago and whose descendants spread to the tip of South America in five hundred years. Now, in no small part because of J. M. Adovasio's work, our notions of who first peopled the Western Hemisphere, how they arrived, and how they lived have been forever changed.
Adovasio begins "The First Americans "by putting his work into historical context, from the earliest European fantasies about where the Native Americans came from to the birth of modern archaeology and the origins of the dogma his own work has debunked. But at its heart, his book is the story of the revolution in thinking that he and his peers have brought about, and the firestorm it has ignited. As he writes, "The work of lifetimes has been put at risk, reputations have been damaged, an astounding amount of silliness and even profound stupidity has been taken as serious thought, and always lurking in the background of all the argumentation and gnashing of tenets has been the question of whether the field of archaeology can ever be pursued as a science."

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User Review  - scvlad - LibraryThing

So, a while back I read 1491 which dipped into new findings in various aspects of pre-columbian American history. It was very interesting. This was kind of a follow-up. It deals with one of the areas ... Read full review

THE FIRST AMERICANS: In Pursuit of Archaeology's Greatest Mystery

User Review  - Kirkus

Engrossing account of recent developments in a long-running and contentious scientific debate.With the exception of the creationism vs. evolution controversy, few areas of contemporary science have ... Read full review

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About the author (2002)

J. M. Adovasio, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute, generally rec-ognized as the finest small-college–based research and training program in North America. He has achieved international acclaim as the archaeologist in charge of the excavations at Meadowcroft Rockshelter, the earliest indisputably dated archaeological site in North America. He has taught and/or conducted research at the Smithsonian Institution, Youngstown State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Institute, and, at present, Mercyhurst College. He lives near Erie, Pennsylvania.

Jake Page is a former editor of Natural History magazine and science editor of Smithsonian magazine, as well as founder of the Natural History Press and Smithsonian Books. An essay

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