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Some history

The peopling of the Americas

There's plenty of evidence to challenge the "Beringia-first" hypothesis....

Standard ideas about the first human migrations to the Americas were long based only upon the "Bering Strait (or Beringia) Theory."

This theory has argued that people crossed overland from Siberia to Alaska when glacial ice held enough water above ground that the sea-level decrease allowed a land-bridge crossing on foot.

The theory is almost certainly true, but it's incomplete.

At the extreme southern part of South America, at Monte Verde, there is hard evidence of an encampment from 12,500 years* ago. This discovery (in 1975) was troublesome for those who believed that the Clovis point was the best evidence of the first immigrants. Overland migration to that distance from Beringia within that amount of time was inconceivable.

Genetic evidence now suggests that Beringia was a homeland, not a "land-bridge." A population settled there for thousands of years before making significant excursion into the Americas.

The archaeological evidence for migration is mostly under water at the modern sea-level. The apparent speed of southward movement, when it did happen, may be due to the marine travel of communities along a coastal route.

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* The newer date — of people occupying a camp at Monte Verde in southern Chile 12,500 years Before Present — is well-supported, with more than 700 artifacts that demonstrate the existence of a camp that was occupied by 20 to 30 people for a part of one year. The older date, 33,370 to 33,020 BP, is more speculative and is based upon a conspicuous concentration of charred wood from a meter-and-a-half deeper at the same location.

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