Peopling of the Americas

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Workshop Abstract

Murray Gell-Mann, Ilia Peiros, and Henry Wright

Peopling of the Americas

The Peopling of the Americas provides a unique natural experiment in human diversification, a process which is both biological and cultural. The interaction of Late Glacial environments, human biology, technology, symbolism, and language is complex. The case study presented by the late Pleistocene histories of humans in the diverse environments of the Americas is long enough that we have a chance of unequivocally sorting out the network of causalities, yet recent enough that we can document most of the linkages. Past efforts to utilize this case in general theory building have been unsatisfying because the data were few and ambiguous and because the theoretical tools at hand were un-developed. However, we now have new methods in biology and language studies, new and more precise records of past communities, and new approaches to modeling. The goal of this workshop is to bring these advances together, catalyzing a fresh look at the peopling of the Americas.