This just in! Native Americans are genetically related to people on the other side of the Bering Strait. [*catcalls ... shouts of 'No sh@t, Sherlock!'*]
No, really! History.com has a story about new DNA evidence linking indigenous populations in the Americas to the present-day people of the Altai highlands and mountains in
|For the geographically challenged, the Bering Strait between Russia and Sarah Palin Land is top right and Scandinavia is top left. The North Pole is dead centre, top. The Altai Republic is coloured red.|
"Map of special gambling areas of Russia" [I swear this is for real! And I know I keep sayin' it. But you just can't make this stuff up!]
|In this map, found at prairiehotrods.pbworks.com, Beringia is top left. [Tongue is herewith parted from cheek.] Commonly referred to as a 'land bridge,' Beringia was in fact continental in scale, and throughout the last glaciation would have been largely un-glaciated--comprising a biome known as a Mammoth Steppe. Note the altogether-glaciated northern North America. Note, too, that the route shown south from Beringia through the heart of the coalescent Cordilleran and Laurentide Ice Sheets is, according to the available science, a load of hooey. The so-called 'ice-free corridor' wasn't ice-free at any time during the Last Glacial Maximum, the time frame in which the movement of people into what's now the Americas would have occurred. [Tongue returned to cheek.] As for the arrow showing movement of people between Sahul and Cape Horn, the best explanation I can come up with is that a small group of Altai emigrants stayed in eastern Russia--perhaps to finish that last roll of quarters--got turned around after too many free drinks, ended up in Australia. and had to hitchhike on the Kon-Tiki to (finally) reach their destination. It's unclear if they ever met up with those of their group who travelled north to get to America, but it's clear from all those red pyramids on the map that they were from the same cultural background! [At this point in writing this, it was almost necessary to have my tongue surgically removed from my cheek.]|
Buckle up! Total change of tone ahead.
|American Antiquity 44:55-69 (1979).|
And archaeologists of North America would do well never to forget his contributions, especially 'Routes.' At the time of its publication there was almost a consensus view that people entered the Americas south of the ice sheets through the so-called ice-free corridor. Knut's paper put the kibosh on that notion, and later received some empirically weighty support with publication of this paper
in which the 'ice-free corridor' was, to my mind, quite forcefully closed, for good.
'Routes' is what effusive literary critics often refer to as a tour de force. Yet, in Knut's case it's apt. If, and I mean if, people did inhabit the Americas south of the ice sheets prior to deglaciation, they would without doubt have used the ocean route that's plotted for us in 'Routes.' It goes without saying that evidence of the passage is on the continental shelf. Thus, we are left with plausibility arguments such as Fladmark's. I'm willing to live with the ambiguity introduced by the watery limitations on archaeological visibility in this case. How about you?
Sure, some of the empirical data are out of date by now, and much has been revealed since its publication. [Funny story. Referring to a 1971 book on Quaternary geology that I cited in one of the papers I wrote for him in 1986, he gently chided me by saying that a fifteen-year-old reference 'might as well have been written in the Pleistocene.'] But the scholarship represented in his work, and the sensible nature of its insights, persuaded me to take his proposition on board, and convinced me that it would stand for a good long time.
See what you think. If you've never encountered it before, or if you've only encountered it in the form of a citation in a more recent work, give it a good read. Both as an example of a first-class scientific paper, and as a lasting contribution to knowledge of American archaeology, I can't recommend it more highly.
That's it. I'm out o' here. See you on the flip-flop.