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Université de Bordeaux
LabEx LaScArBxCluster of Excellence
Cluster of excellence

Dynamics of the first populations of the American continent: beyond the “Clovis-first” paradigm

Christelle Lahaye IRAMAT-CRP2A


Laboratoire de datation par luminescence LUX au Geotop - Département des Sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère – Université du Québec à Montréal - 201 Avenue Président-Kennedy - Montréal, QC H2X 3Y7 – Canada

UMR 7041 ArScAn, Anthropologie des Techniques, des Espaces et des Territoires au Pliocène et Pléistocène (AnTET), Maison de l’Archéologie et de l’Ethnologie, 21 allée de l’Université, 92023 Nanterre Cedex

Département de Préhistoire du MNHN UMR 7194

Center for the Study of the First Americans, Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, 4352 TAMU, College Station, Texas 77843-4352

Finance: €99,081

6 months post-doctoral contract 23,223

Duration: 16 months (September 2014 – December 2015)

Fixed-term contract recruitment: planned.

When and how did man populate the American continent? Were there several phases of population, and what were their origins? For nearly 50 years, it has been widely accepted that small groups of humans penetrated the American continent around 11,500 BP, from Siberia towards Beringia, then from North to South down the continent: this is the “Clovis-first” theory.

A number of recent discoveries in the fields of archaeology, palaeogenetics, anthropology and the environmental sciences, essentially carried out in the south of the continent and in Alaska (Goebel et al., 2008), have led to interpretations that are contradictory in part and tend to call this theory into question (Toca da Tira Peia, Lahaye sites et al., 2013; Arroyo del Vizcaino site, Fariña et al., 2013).

To respond better to these questions, we propose to introduce elements of chronology, based on luminescence studies carried out on deposits in South and North America, whose integrity is well-known.

A close collaboration with the luminescence laboratory of Montreal (LUX) will enable us to compare the results, and to acquire and develop new methodological skills to contribute to the essential quality and reliability of the dating that will be carried out.

The establishment of a new chronological reference, from the two strategic zones of the continent, will enable us to reconsider the “Clovis-first” paradigm and will potentially contribute to re-writing the history of the population of the American continent.