Peopling of the Americas Presentations

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki


Peopling of the Americas—Sept. 25

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David Meltzer—Introduction to the Issues

  • Get researchers from very different disciplines together to update each other on current research
  • But we should also try to integrate our results
  • Monte Verde fundamentally altered our views on the origins, antiquity of Native Americans; early, non-Clovis, and far from Beringia
    • raised lots of questions, now have many answers and we need to determine which ones (from different disciplines) are congruent, and which ones have the best support
  • coastal route ca. 13,500; inland ca. 12,000, but earlier also possible depending on technology (esp. boats)
    • colonization may have been “a dribbling over from Asia” and not a clear migration or even series of migrations
  • But linguistics (depending on whom one believes) and genetics seem to suggest only a few (maybe one) migrating population
    • is this incompatible with “dribbling” or multiple migrations?
  • Lineage / language loss early on? Genetic even after European contact via selection by disease
  • Should there be convergence in answer to how many/when people came to the Americas? Meltzer is pessimistic this can happen
    • too much disagreement within disciplines to arrive at agreement between disciplines
  • Skeptical that modern distributions of languages and genes reflect ancient distributions
  • “remnant, isolated data points”
  • How do we integrate? Identify where and how points of common knowledge can occur
    • genetics and archaeology: archaeology provides minimum age for peopling of the Americas; genetics a maximum age=allows a bracket. Use evidence from different disciplines to test one another’s conclusions.

“Under what circumstances do genes, language, and culture evolve together, and under what circumstances do they evolve independently?”


SZ, when we try to put data together we need to be careful about what dates we use: calendar vs. radiocarbon; DM yes, calibrated dates have significant error ranges and change, we should not use them;
RS is it possible to estimate the size of when a population becomes “visible” in the archaeological record; DM no, very low probably; MGM what about order of magnitude; DM yes, only 2 sites older than 12,500 so by order of magnitude, very low; MGM what about Meadowcroft, Cactus Hill; DM waiting for final reports, Gault site also

David Meltzer's presentation in PDF File:Meltzer.pdf

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William Fitzhugh—Overview of the High Arctic

  • Climate is a major factor, lots of change over time; for people, many migrations, many extinctions—technology critical to survival; innovations often transformative, but also long continuity of technology that works
  • “Unified” life zone, same animals, isolated from other areas, travel relatively easy by boat and sledge
  • Much of northern Siberia not glaciated in the last ice age=a “breadbasket” of cultures for population of the whole arctic zone
  • Belief that “back migration” from NA to Asia is rare
  • Three areas for movement between Asia and NA
    • arctic plain, interior, coast; large areas of the arctic plain and coast regions now underwater, so hard to research
  • In more recent periods there seems to be much movement during warmer time periods
  • Reindeer herding ca. 500 but never moves into NA
  • Overview of NA=Arctic small tool (4-5K), Dorset (2.5K), Thule (.8K)
    • Arctic small tool very similar to Siberian tool kits and clearly related; Dorset seems largely indigenous but there are some related materials in Asia and the Aleutians, also contact with Norse, so the time when the whole Arctic was connected; Thule spreads out of Siberia rapidly, perhaps due to the Medieval Warm Period opening boat channels through the arctic, direct ancestors to Inuit
  • Emerging evidence (e.g. Norse coin dating 1080) that Norse continue to visit NA after abandonment of l’Anse aux Meadows; lots of Norse material in the high arctic, probably traded inland


DM when did pressure against back migration start?; WF bronze age, but no evidence even earlier
TK showed similarities and dissimilarities in material culture, has anyone tried to quantify these?; WF no, too much variation [my own view=it is possible and would be interesting; if you can see similarities, you can quantify them]
RS hinted at European contact across the arctic, what date?; WF 4K or so, but evidence is very scant, may be similar because of similar adaptations to seal and walrus hunting; RS were there boats?; WF oh yes, big boats. Boats are not the problem.
TG some idea that Dene related to Yenesi; WF we should hear from the linguists about that, lots of problems with it
DM on Yana foreshafts, similar to Clovis, but do show significant differences and could well be a case of convergence; TG it may be that we will find earlier sites in Alaska as permafrost melts, erosion has not been as significant in NA

William Fitzhugh's presentation in PDF File:Fitzhugh.pdf

Sergey Vasiliev—East Siberian Archaeology

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  • Temporal, spatial, and cultural outline of the peoples of Siberia, focusing on recent discoveries
  • Geographical differences: west Siberia a broad, flat, wet plain; central Siberia is mountainous; south central Siberia is a riverine region; south east Siberia is mountainous, north east Siberia is again flat and open, but not wet; trans-Baikal region links south central Siberia with the north east; Pacific region is unique and links all of the east
  • Lower Paleolithic has no sites, Middle Paleolithic has vast glaciations creating large glacial lakes, few sites, all in the south, many in the broader Lake Baikal region
  • Upper Paleolithic is when the region becomes inhabited, earliest phases are contemporary with those in Europe and the Near East (ca. 43,000 BP), all early sites in the southern region, many in the Lake Baikal region, with a distribution similar to Middle Paleolithic sites
  • Mammoth hunting occurs, but it appears that nowhere in east Siberia are they a mainstay of life
  • By ca 28,000 BP there begin to appear sites in the north
  • Yana (which has wood foreshafts that look similar to Clovis) also has a stone tool industry employing large flakes
  • Large increase in northern sites and spread to the east after ca. 20,000 BP; mostly seasonal hunting sites, light above-ground tent structures, varied tool kits
  • Influence from China and Korea in the southeast, including flat-bottom ceramics starting ca. 13,000 BP
  • Nenana complex and Paleo-Arctic do not appear to be linked to Siberia; Denali appears to be linked to Siberia (Duktai)


TK are the oldest sites in the Altai region, SV yes, TK where did these people come from? SV we don’t know, tools are very common all over the world at this time, TK could Homo sapiens and Neandertals have co-occupied the region, SV enigmatic, we don’t know, almost no human remains
TG when you look at the archaeological record, there is a long overlap between Homo sapiens and Neandertals, SV the radiocarbon dates do overlap, but that does not mean they co-existed and lots of problems with the error ranges in the dates
MF in terms of statistical comparisons and variance within versus between sites, has there been any work in Siberia to look at movement? SV [long answer, but the overall answer is that the problems encountered make it impossible]

Sergey Vasiliev's presentation in PDF File:Vasiliev.pdf

Tatiana Karafet—Human Variation in Siberia

  • Need a lot of money and a lot of DNA to do good genetic studies; both are difficult to obtain, so research is being held back, thus findings have to be preliminary
  • Where did we come from; when did people arrive in different regions; what is the current genetic structure of a population
  • Overview of populations and genetic research
  • Autosomal analyses do not present a clear picture of ancestry, but a good view of admixture; closely associated with geography
  • Y chromosome and mtDNA are much better for charting ancestry, but do not give an equivalent picture—often quite different because of differential migration rates (esp. in terms of postmarital residence) or skews in sex ratios; but research suggests postmarital residence should not have as strong an effect as is often seen, so large scale migration or differential sex ratios seem to be the cause; effects are more powerful in smaller populations
  • Social selection does effect reproductive success in Siberian populations
  • Distinctive marriage structure, sex specific migration and polygyny shaped population structure in Siberia. Is the same true for North America?


TS how far back can we see admixture; that is, how can we tease out ancient migrations from more recent ones, TK we have to look case by case, and the problem is how to estimate it, MF the way to look at this is that Yakutsk and Native Americans share common ancestry at some point in the past, it can’t say when it occurred. [MF went on to explain the autosomal study more and describe several others that are similar]

Tatiana Karafet's presentation in PDF File:Karafet.pdf

Theodore Schurr—Human Variation in NE Asia

  • all seem to be focusing on demographic issues and how they impact the genetics
  • the 3-step colonization model: out of East Asia ca. 40K, to Beringia ca. 30K, into the Americas ca. 16K; perhaps back migration too; after 12K Dene and Inuit come in also
  • Y-chromosome suggests some “trickling” over of people from East Asia
  • unique NA genetic lineages all date between 15-20K; a population expansion is also seen beginning ca. 20K
  • different “homelands” for different genetic variations, so founding populations from a broad area of southern Siberia
  • overview of archaeological research being done in the Cis-Baikal region, esp. data from ancient DNA; a lot of genetic variation even within this region; later populations have genetic variations more similar to contemporary populations, but they are quite different from old ones; earlier ones seem more like western Siberian populations
  • genetic change happens relatively quickly, over the course of a thousand years
  • genetic makeup very different for mtDNA and Y-chromosome; some strong patterns within Y-chromosome from patrilocality
  • impact of recent history may affect the genetic patterns in contemporary populations, esp. recent migration and, for Native Americans, epidemic diseases
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MH what about recent recalibrations of the molecular clock that seem to bring archaeological and genetic dates closer, TS maybe what we should do is bracket our estimates like radiocarbon dates, using archaeological data seems sensible as a tool to calibrate the molecular clock, but we don’t know for sure what the earliest sites date, MF you get different estimates based on population data.
MF using the human genome diversity project you see the same relations with the Yakutsk using SNPs as you do with mtDNA
DM interesting that there are no European markers in NA populations, which makes it seem very unlikely that the European migration makes any sense; WF there is a microcore in Iceland beneath a Norse floor
[MGM made a general comment about broad patterns and how difficult it is to work with them, but how interesting they are]
TG asked about the Yana site and how it is impacting 3-step colonization model, TS it is earlier than the expansion, SZ there isn’t anything in Beringia, so there is just an assumption made that they just sat there, so Yana supports that
IP why are we talking about Siberia all the time, why not Japan, East Asia?; WF I include East Asia; TG I really think the population came from the Baikal region—that’s what the genetics and the material culture shows, and the material culture and genetics of East Asia does not seem similar to early NA.

Theodore Schurr's presentation in PDF File:Schurr.pdf

Ted Goebel—New Research in Alaska/Beringia

When did humans disperse to Beringia? What happened during the late glacial period, ca. 14-12KYA?

  • General overview of Beringia
  • Very few people in east Siberia during the LGM, perhaps even an hiatus of habitation in the region, at least a bottleneck
  • Is there evidence for a pre-LGM Beringian dispersal? Yana seems to offer clear evidence that there was. Did they disperse further, to Alaska? No archaeological evidence. Also a number of Siberian mammals that did not disperse into Alaska
  • Is there evidence for a post-LGM Beringian dispersal? Swan Point, Bluefish Caves, both in Alaska, both ca. 14KYA. Artifacts from the site are very similar to Duktai
  • Can ancient DNA help to address the timing of dispersal? There are a few human remains that could be used, work is ongoing
  • Is there support for Beringian “standstill” during the LGM? None at this point—Ushki has been re-dated to ca 13KYA; Berelekh also re-dated to ca. 14KYA.
  • There is strong evidence for late glacial cultural diversification after 14KYA, so not from diversification during a standstill, but from a radiation once the LGM was waning
  • Are Nenana and Denali different cultures or different functional tool groups—seems to be different cultures as they are found in the same locations but at different times; also both found on a full range of site types and with occupations from all seasons—same thing happens at Ushki, one with and one without microblade tools—microblades seem a bit later and may be associated with the Younger Dryas
  • There are fluted points in Alaska, but none found in dated contexts until 2005 when a channel flake dated to 12KYA or 1000 years after Clovis; further excavations have provided additional fluted points, these also ca. 12KYA; seem to be associated with caribou hunters
  • Central Siberia/Beringia was the source of the first Native Americans
  • Humans dispersed into Beringia ca. 30KYA
  • Cultural landscape was very complex


MGM is it really that complex?, TG yes, at least 7 distinct cultures; DM we have another site that shows fluted points moving north, also bison moving north; SV commented on the problem of the archaeological record being largely from accidental discovery—where there is erosion you find sites, so distribution studies may not really tell us anything; YB also commented on this problem

Ted Goebel's presentation in PDF File:Goebel.pdf

David Anderson—Early Peopling of North America

  • Clovis is more than just fluted points
    • there is a whole associated tool kit, particularly a complex flake tool industry and ivory projectile points; it is a projectile point form that also develops into a variety of related forms (Folsom, Cumberland, etc.); there are also non-Clovis forms contemporary with Clovis
  • People were in Eastern North America by 13KYA, though perhaps earlier (Meadowcroft, Cactus Hill), using bifacial unfluted points and without the associated flake tool industry
  • Large Clovis sites in the SE tend to occur at the intersection of major rivers with good sources of stone
  • There is a drop off in projectile points in the SE immediately after Clovis and associated with the Younger Dryas
    • related to a more broad-based adaptation; Clovis continues farther west among large game hunters for some time
  • Clovis points and related forms, especially very large and “beautiful” ones appear to have been used in “ritual” and trade contexts, esp. burials
  • Clovis peoples focused on large animals, but more diversified post-Clovis
    • Clovis may be a focused adaptation on big game hunting; BUT distributions do not support a wave of advance model
  • Need to explore submerged sites on the continental shelf
  • Need to do more work on synthesizing and analyzing existing data, but also need to acquire more data, esp. to explore stylistic variation and clusters of variation
    • also a need to find better ways to share data
  • Need more information on perishable artifacts
  • Need more deeply stratified sites and more dates
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SZ Bill Laughlin talked about PaleoIndian migration along the Aleutians in the 1950s, what happened? DA there are much better data now so that we can actually pinpoint areas that might have ancient sites
SV what about Mike Gramley’s idea that Cumberland is older than Clovis? DA there are some serious questions about the excavations that support his ideas and the data are not consistent with other things we know
MGM is there a model you accept for the spread of Clovis? DA dates may get younger from east to northwest, but we only have a handful of dates from the east, that said I do think Clovis emerged in the east and moved northwest, in a back-migration
MH is there equal coverage across NA for your maps? DA no, it varies but not enough to create the big patterns:MGM can you trace and evolution from Clovis to Folsom to others? DA yes, there are stratified sites that you can use
TG things may be changing at different rates, so your maps may have a bias in that way, DA absolutely right, we don’t know how long Clovis lasts

David Anderson's presentation in PDF File:Anderson.pdf

Recent summary paper by David Anderson, in PDF File:AndersonAENA.pdf

Tom Dillehay—Early Peopling of South America

  • One of the thing we lack in discussions of peopling of the Americas is social theory—we do a lot of modeling and descriptive work, but we don’t talk much about social organization
  • Two populations migrated, one along the Andes, another along the Atlantic Coast
  • No link between Clovis and South America
  • South American sites are as early as North American, both in the Andes and in Brazil; some may even be earlier
  • Only two kill sites on the entire continent, both date to ca. 11KYA; looks like a broad-spectrum economy including many plant foods from a the very beginning; along the coast marine resources are important
  • Summary of early sites dating in the range of 11-12KYA; by 11KYA there is a great diversity in both tool industries and in sources of food
  • All around northern South America domestication begins around 10KYA, a complex system widely shared by 9KYA
    • implies people must have been well settled into particular ecological settings in order to develop these domesticates and then export them to other areas
  • Earliest sites are located in estuaries and in association with freshwater springs; living off of a variety of plants, small and big game, and fish; houses show seasonal occupation—probably between coast and upland
    • between 12-10KYA
  • After about 10KYA houses appear to become more sedentary and sites smaller, with only one structure common versus 6-8 in earlier sites
    • these may be early agricultural farmsteads; located on alluvial fans; about half the diet appears to be from squash, beans, and avocado; also exotic materials begin to appear, suggesting emerging importance of trade economy
    • good evidence that these sites functioned within the framework of a dispersed community=community group interacting but living in dispersed households


RS how did people first enter the continent? TD had to come in through the intermediate area, from their you either go along the Caribbean coast or along the Andes, or along the Andean coast; of those the coastal route seems the best in terms of resources
TG aren’t their fluted fishtail points? TD there are some reported but there are problems with them all
MH how sedentary were the early coastal people? TD domestic sites (with shell middens) were occupied for 9000 years, so they are heavily disturbed, but it looks like sedentarism along the coast began at least 7000 years ago; MH coastal areas seem to breed sedentarism and complex societies, TD yes, lots of resources and ability to interact both with other coastal people and inland populations, these early coastal people set the trajectory for complex cultures in the Andean region

Tom Dillehay's presentation in PDF File:Dillehay.pdf

Stephen Zegura—Human Variation in the Americas

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BIG QUESTIONS: Did people continuously occupy Beringia 30-15KYA=we don’t know; Did people use the southern coast of Beringia=probably; Will we ever be able to differentiate clearly between multiple expansions from a single source, multiple sources, expansion with subsequent gene flow=probably not, but ancient DNA studies may help

  • Reviewed the last decade of research on these questions
  • LGM varies place to place, and great variability within LGM, but when things are hospitable, people tend to move
    • 15 to 18KYA appears to have been a period when people could have moved into the Americas, genetics supports this, maybe some archaeology does too
  • Bill Laughlin suggested movement along the Aleutians and in 1975 published Blade Site on Anangula Island dated to ca. 10KYA, so there were people there
    • ancestral to Eskimo/Aleut?
  • Y chromosome research as of 2006 suggests one migration out of the Altai/Baikal region about 45-30KYA to Beringia, “standstill” until ca. 18KYA, then movement into the Americas
  • As of 2010 Y chromosome looks more like an earlier coastal migration and a slightly later interior migration, without the “standstill” on Beringia
  • Autosomal data (2007-2010) suggests one wave of migration; but significant sampling problems
  • mtDNA data (2007-2008) are varied in conclusions, but many have statistical problems
  • Ancient DNA (2007-2010) ca. 14 to 4 KYA
    • suggests an ancient migration into North America and a later one across the arctic
  • Many papers on genetics mention admixture, there appears to be considerable admixture in Native American populations
  • So, no clear answers!


MGM the idea that a speaker of Basque could understand a Na-Dene speaker is absurd!
ES can one pose the question “backwards”, starting with the data and asking what structure emerges from the data?, SZ sure, but there are problems, MF that’s how much work in population genetics is done

Stephen Zegura's presentation in PDF File:Zegura.pdf

Yuri Berezkin—Mythology and Archaeology

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  • areal distribution of folklore motifs, covering the entire world
  • database at [[1]]; also on [[2]]
  • greatest diversity of folklore motifs is in Central Asia and the Americas
  • 80% of American myths have parallels in E and SE Asia, the rest in Central Asia [motif map suggest to me a northern hemisphere/southern hemisphere division]
  • many different types of stories
  • there are a large number of motifs that link the Americas and Oceania
    • how can this be explained?
  • many of these motifs surround how agriculture developed, and these motifs cannot pre-date agriculture, so they must post-date the colonization of the Americas
    • is this evidence of Polynesian-American contact? Or are these more ancient stories about the origin of particular plant foods that are later domesticated and the motif is transferred to the domesticated plant?
  • foundation of American mythology is E Asian, but Siberian myths are also very important
    • may imply two migrations, one by coastal people from E Asia, another from Siberia


MH how do the traits co-vary and might aggregate onto different hierarchical groups, YB no that has not been done
TD you did not talk about migration motifs—are their stories in the Old World about migration to the east? YB there are some, but not widespread=very local stories
DA do myths support contact between Polynesia and Chumash? YB no, this connection is not obvious in the motifs

Yuri Berezkin's presentation in PDF File:Berezkin.pdf

Peopling of the Americas—September 26, 2010

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Ilia Peiros and Dmitry Leshchiner—Remote Relationships of the Languages of the Americas

  • distributed a paper by Sergei Nikolaev that discusses a “Beringian Macro-Family”, which Ilia does not believe; but does support the Na-Dene/Sino-Caucasian link, also suggests Algonkian is related to Siberian languages
  • overview of the method of comparative linguistics and how proto-languages are reconstructed
  • Eskimo-Aleut is related to the Eurasian super-family; Na-Dene is related to Dene-Caucasian super-family; no languages of the Americas appear to be related to the Afroasiatic or Austric super-families
    • some genetic evidence that Yenisian and Na-Dene are related
  • Borean is a proposed super-super family that incorporates Eurasian (12KYA), Dene-Caucasian (10KYA), Afroasiatic (12KYA), and Austric (10KYA); estimated date ca. 15-17KYA; the method of this reconstruction is based on similarities in reconstructed words (about 1000 resemblances) and major phonological correspondences
  • These kind of reconstructions are very difficult for North America because there are very few etymological dictionaries (12 total) ; even fewer for South America (7 total)
  • Four families of North American languages have been suggested in the literature: Penutian, Hokan, Mosan, Oto-Manguean; acceptance of these by linguists varies
  • EHL has worked to develop databases to reconstruct proto-languages: three major zones of contact and lexical exchange seem present, which complicate the work; HOWEVER, lexical resemblances also exist across these contact zones, and these resemblances have been the focus of work
  • From this work a hypothetical language family (Amerind I) is suggested, and includes the following language groups:

Penutian, Quechuan-Aymaran, Hokan, Aztec-Tanoan, Mixe-Zoquean, Totonacan, Iroquoian-Caddoan-Keresan, Salishan, Chibchan

  • There are a number of large language groups (such as Algonquian) that do not appear to link to Amerind I
  • Estimate that Proto-Amerind I would date to ca. 8-9KYA
  • It appears that there are a number of South American language groups (Maki, Tupi, and Carib) that are closely related but quite different from Amerind I, and these are tentatively proposed to be in a separate family Amerind II
  • Amerind I languages have noticeable similarities to all branches of Borean
  • Amerind II have similarities to Austric, but not to other branches Borean
  • Amerind I is not identical to Greenberg’s Amerind language family; there seem to be several clear subgroups (at least two)
  • Amerind I may be a separate branch of Borean, but not clear yet
  • Homeland of Amerind I must be somewhere in Asia, separation of Amerind I languages could have happened in the Americas, and the distribution suggests this may have occurred in the northern Pacific coast region
  • The differences between Amerind I and Amerind II suggest two separate waves of migration, with Amerind II presumably being earlier
  • A proposed Beringian language family may include Algic and Mosan; this might also be a branch of Borean


MGM showed a map of the languages of North America to demonstrate geographic correlations between the proposed Amerind families and the known language groups; suggests oldest languages are south and youngest are farther north, ending with Dene and Eskimo
SZ asked how the dates are estimated, DL provided a basic overview of lexicostatistics
YB questioned the dates, suggesting they are too late, specifically Mayan must be older than 2300 KYA; however the language patterns match nicely with the folklore motif patterns; DL disagrees that Maya date is wrong, that particular date is very solid
MGM the formula used to determine age in lexicostatistics are not fully understood, and are still being perfected, DL there are certainly subtleties to language change that should be incorporated to make the formula better, but the estimations are still good
TS what kind of standard error to you expect in these estimations, DL for two thousand year old language, perhaps 100 years; for five thousand year old, perhaps 500 years, and so on

Ilia Peiros and Dmitry Leshchiner's presentation in PDF File:Peiros.pdf


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Marc Feldman

Suggested that methods used to estimate ages of divergence and mutation rates in genetics might be applied to the languages; employ Bayesian inference to deal with uncertainties; discussed the Human Genome Diversity Project and how it might be used; gave examples of some findings from 52 populations that were studied in detail; heterozygosity shows almost a perfect linear digression as you move out of Africa; the point is that it is used to use statistics of variation and see what the data show; in other words, work from the data rather than the models.

Tanmoy Bhattacharya

How long will it take until linguistic reconstructions are accepted? A “mainstream” American linguist would say that similarities in lexicon does not imply that languages are related, and that basically means that historical linguistics is meaningless. However, linguistic reconstructions are not just based on simple similarity, but on a complex set of assumptions to judge which similarities are due to chance and which are truly due to relatedness—this is exactly what is done in genetic phylogeny and we know it works. We also know historically that languages do evolve and can and do show true similarities because of relationships. This case needs to be made and many more linguists will accept the method and the reconstructions based on them. We are working on modeling what lexicostatistics measures and does, and there appears to be a real decay process going on in languages that can be examined statistically.

How can we put together ideas from different fields? If one has enough data the big picture can usually be seen, regardless of how it is analyzed or assumptions made in the analysis; so, use agreed conclusions from other fields “as your prior”, or giving it a high probability of being accurate, then analyze the data from your field based on that “prior”. Also, we could start the process by using data to test hypotheses—have one field provide the most likely hypotheses and see if the data from another field rules out that hypothesis as improbable; this may be what we should do here, present a bunch of hypotheses (e.g. there were five waves of migration) and allow the fields to rule out ones that don’t fit their data and see what we are left with.

Eric Smith

Fill in details about the lexicostatistics and reconstructions; why is there such a need to fight about this? There appear to be a set of methods that are generally accepted and if they are used, many of the disagreements should fall away.

What can we learn from historical linguistics? (1) History, (2) Rules of Process. Not sure all the time which of these we are seeing, and this leads to disagreements. There are also disagreements about what is or is not knowable, and this needs to be clarified. We are trying to establish a set of methods that we can demonstrate do work to answer both historical and processual questions about language.

There is a problem about the relationship between lexicon/phonology and syntax/grammar; many linguists in North America do not think lexicon/phonology are meaningful for reconstructing language history, only syntax/grammar matters (or lexicon/phonology are only interesting once syntactical similarities have been established). We can deal with this probabilistically.

Peter Peregrine

1. Meltzer: “Accordingly, “scholars should pursue multidisciplinary research as a group, working together on a common problem, with each individual contributing his or her own expertise” (pp. 1–2). Good advice, but let’s get the negative part of this review out of the way up front: there is not a chapter in this book that actually follows that advice.” Let’s change that

2. Meltzer: Under what circumstances of genes, languages and culture evolve together, and under what circumstances do they evolve independently? A great question we need to explore, there is some evidence that language and culture evolve together sometimes

3. If we assume the language reconstructions are accurate, what do we learn? Does it tell us something we did not know before?

4. Dillehay: Social organization is key, it affects the genetics, the languages, and the archaeological record, BUT it is understandable why it is not discussed more: the data force a lot of inference, and we are not very accepting of that kind of work, AND the ethnographers have abandoned us

5. Vasiliev: I have a strong belief in the robustness of the archaeological record, esp. because we can usually assume random bias (or nearly so), so patterns that we find are probably real

6. We need to communicate better with Native Americans and have an open discussion about the peopling of the Americas and what it means to various communities (including the scientific community)—this is not just being PC, it is also allowing for input and discussion from impacted communities, and we all will learn from such discussion.

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Murray Gell-Mann

“In my reluctance to speak over the past two days I’ve actually run out of material.”

Nikolaev paper: is compatable with the idea of five large language groups founding the languages of the Americas, as EHL is suggesting, but they want to tie some to a language family they have reconstructed called Beringian.

We should seek to create “successful models” of the peopling of the Americas to see what ones seem to fit the data best; these may be crude, but they may suggest where more work or greater detail is needed.

General Discussion

DM: Tanmoy made the point that we need to test hypotheses from one field using data from another, perhaps one we could start with is the Beringian standstill model; appears to be little archaeological data to support it (but could be because of sampling); mtDNA may support it. We should also throw out some “seat of the pants” speculation about the peopling of the Americas; linguists give a model and test it. Next question is where do we go from here.
TS Y-chromosome data and “standstill” There is the “QM3” marker that is unique to the Americas, this could have arisen during a Beringian standstill, but it is not clear; SZ the dates for the QM3 seem to be only 17KYA at the oldest, so that may be too late, there may be some earlier markers on Q that we could find, but right now the dates seem a little too young, the mtDNA may show a Beringian standstill; WF but they were not in Alaska, and if they were on Beringia, they should be in Alaska; TG so where were they when these markers appeared? Farther south in Siberia? TS looks like it could have arisen in the Altai/Baikal region based on QM242 and QM346
YB what is the oldest DNA we have from South America; discussion—about 9500 BP; the earliest samples have DNA that looks very much like modern populations, there is clear continuity on both the Y chromosome and mtDNA; YB what about the very early populations being different, TS there do seem to be differences, but it does not seem to be reflected genetically either in the ancient or modern DNA; SZ there actually seems to be a continuum of variation, the “two waves” may be just looking at the extremes on both ends
TS there is a lot of evidence from both mtDNA and Y chromosome that as people leave Siberia others fill in with different population makeup than the people that moved to the Americas, the question is when those populations left; so it is clear that the American populations are from Siberia
TD there are some interesting new sites in the Caribbean; is anyone doing genetics in that area? TS yes, just starting
TB so how confident are we in our sampling? Is the QM3 the earliest, or could there be an older migration that we have not found yet? SZ there is great overall similarity in the Americas, so it would appear we have sampled adequately
DA assuming the standstill took place, how many thousands of years are we talking about? Does it have to be in Beringia? DM if they weren’t in Beringia, they weren’t there. TS the time period for the emergence of the American groups from Altai groups is something like 3-4 thousand years, DA if people were in Beringia for several thousand years, we should be seeing them.
DA what it very interesting is that this “missing population” is right at the end of the last glacial maximum, so it is a time when you could have isolation; MH our recent study of radiocarbon dates shows a clear move into western Siberia ca. 30K but no farther until after the ice age, so maybe the “standstill” was in western Siberia, DA but they should have been in contact with other Asians, so would there have been isolation in western Siberia?
DM in order to engage the linguists, what is your best guess about migrations? IP no guess at all—three or four, maybe five, but we don’t know yet, especially for South America; TB what is the minimum number that must be there; IP four or five MGM Eskimo/Aleut, Dene, Algic, Amerind I, possibly Souixan, Amerind II, so that is six; TB Marc had autosomal data that divided the American populations well—do these map onto the linguistic groups? MF no, but there really is not enough information to tell at this point; SZ actually the association is not terrible based on Wang et al. 2007 (PLoS Genetics); TB what about Y chromosome and mtDNA? TS we don’t have Algonkian populations so we can’t say, and the data we do have is full of admixture—we are going to need lots and lots of data to work through that.
Here is a PDF of the Wang et al. paper File:Wangetal.pdf
TG so if there are 4-6 migrations, can you identify where they may have come from? IP you are pushing us too far on that one.
SZ can you give us an update on the genographic consortium for the Americas? TS we are making slow progress, data coming in from Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, for North America there is material coming out of Mexico and other parts of Mesoamerica, in the US there is very, very little, largely because of tribal concerns, not coming from individuals, so progress will be slow—at least another 5 to 10 years before we have enough data to do anything for US
DM one of the issues for the Americas is the huge population decline following contact that created refugee populations and linguistic and genetic admixture
MF is it possible to get any microorganisms that might have moved to the Americas with humans? Those might be very useful to examine. Heliobacter pylori matches autosomal data very well. TG in the Southwest we have some good coprolites, and we are thinking that we might look for micoroorganisms in them too.
RS I would like to see a time plot by millennium showing the number of sites and the probability that the dates for those sites are accurate, DM that would be a useful starting point for future work