Americas, antiquity and prehistory of the Americas
Archaeologists believe humans had entered and occupied much of the Americas by the end of the Pleistocene epoch, but the date of their original entry into the Americas is unresolved. The term “Paleo-Indians” is generally used to refer to early Native Americans up through the end of the Ice Age (c.8000 B.C.). Most authorities believe they entered North America from Siberia as small bands of migratory big-game hunters. Such a journey could have been made by means of a land bridge, known as Beringia, which emerged several times during the Pleistocene.
Below, chart of projectile points in North America and some maps for Clovis and successor cultures. The best evidence is that Clovis started in the Southeast/Mississippi delta and move up inland until they filled the area up to the glacial margin. Clovis was preceeded by an earlier more Solutrean-like precourser culture.
Project Director: Anne Pyburn
Indiana University Bloomington
Long Ago in Chile ...
The ancient Egyptians were not the only ones who mummified those who died. Half way around the world, we find the Chinchorro mummies - mummified remains of individuals from the South American Chinchorro culture found in what is now northern Chile and southern Peru.
The Chinchorro mummies are the earliest examples of the deliberate preservation of the dead. The mummies may have served as a means of assisting the soul in surviving, and to prevent the bodies from frightening the living. They are the oldest examples of mummified human remains, dating to thousands of years before the Egyptian mummies. They are believed to have first appeared around 5000 B.C. and reaching a peak around 3000 B.C.
Often Chinchorro mummies were elaborately prepared by removing the internal organs and replacing them with vegetable fibers or animal hair. In some cases an embalmer would remove the skin and flesh from the dead body and replace them with clay. Shell midden and bone chemistry suggest that 90% of their diet was seafood. Many ancient cultures of fisherfolk existed, tucked away in the arid river valleys of the Andes, but the Chinchorro made themselves unique by their dedicated preservation of the dead.
The Chinchorro mummies are significant because during the periods of these mummies, everyone who died was mummified, including children, new-borns and fetuses. This shows that it was not reserved for those of high rank or high status - mummification was not a sign of social stratification.
Radiocarbon dating reveals that the oldest, discovered Chinchorro mummy was that of a child from a site in the Camarones Valley, about 60 miles south of Arica and dates from around 5050 B.C. The mummies continued to be made until about 1800 B.C., making them contemporary with Las Vegas culture and Valdivia culture in Ecuador and the Norte Chico civilization in Peru.