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?
At its heart, The First Americans is the story of the revolution in thinking that Adovasio and his fellow archaeologists 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.”
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of History eBook: The First Americans|
|Release Date: 01-16-2009|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The First Americans
GLIMPSES THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
When Christopher Columbus first slogged ashore on October 12, 1492, on either the Caribbean island of San Salvador or Samana Cay, he was met by Arawak-speaking people who called themselves Taino and who apparently made an excellent first impression. "They are affectionate people," Columbus reported, "and without covetousness and apt for anything, which I certify." He went on to write, "I believe there is no better people or land in the world. They love their neighbors as themselves and have the sweetest speech in the world and gentle, and are always smiling." Not knowing who these seemingly happy-go-lucky folk were, Columbus imagined them to be Asians-perhaps Hindus or Spice Islanders. Yet, despite his boosterism, he was disappointed to find these natives less advanced than he expected of Asians. In fact, the Tainos were fairly sophisticated agriculturalists living in villages of a thousand or more, each with up to fifty round, conical-roofed houses of wood and thatch ringed around a plaza and presided over by a chieftain. The villages were organized into district chiefdoms; two social strata, nobles and commoners, existed; and local artisans worked in wood, ceramics, weaving, and other crafts, including gold imported from mainland South America. Even so, they were hardly what might be expected by someone who had read about Marco Polo's travels to the Orient.
Soon the neighbor-loving Tainos made it plain that their particular neighbors, known as Caribs and located to the south in what we call the Virgin Islands, were cannibals bent on wiping out the Tainos. Here we have an early version of two