Explore Pre-Clovis Sites

  • By Robson Bonnichsen and Robert Lassen
  • Posted 11.09.04
  • NOVA

When did humans first arrive in the Americas? For decades, the "Clovis-first" model of initial colonization held sway. It says that the first Americans were the Clovis people—named for an archeological site near Clovis, New Mexico—and that they walked across the Bering Land Bridge and spread into North America about 13,500 years ago. In recent years, however, researchers have unearthed many sites that appear to be pre-Clovis, some of them potentially doubling the time frame people have been in the Western Hemisphere. In this interactive map, explore 28 possible pre-Clovis sites found throughout North America.

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Were people in North America long before the "first Americans"? Investigate the evidence using our interactive map.

The map shows glaciers, lakes, and shorelines as of 12,900 years ago. Not shown is a famous pre-Clovis site in South America, Monte Verde in Chile, which is 14,500 years old and features many organic artifacts, stone tools, and house structures. This is an updated version of a map that originally appeared in "The Case for a Pre-Clovis People," by Robson Bonnichsen and Alan L. Schneider, American Archaeology, Winter 2001-2002. Special thanks also to Dennis Stanford, Smithsonian Institution.

Robson Bonnichsen, who died in 2004, was a professor of anthropology and director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University. Robert Lassen is a former master's student at Texas A&M.


Map: Courtesy of Robson Bonnichsen

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