Cambridge University Press, 1987. — x+386 p. — ISBN 0-521-32773-3.When and now did people first colonize the Americas? How did village life and agriculture arise? Why did complex societies develop in certain regions? These are some of the questions discussed in this wide-ranging book, which explores the development of the prehistoric cultures of North, Central, and South America from about 10,000 BC to AD 1530. Beginning with an examination of the archaeological evidence for the earliest human migration from Asia to the New World, Stuart Fiedel traces the rapid expansion of Paleo-lndian hunters; the adaptations of Archaic hunter-gatherers to post-Ice Age environments; the origins and spread of farming and village life; and the rise and fall of chiefdoms and states. He shows how technological innovations, population growth, environmental constraints, climate change and social and ideological factors influenced the varying trajectories of cultural evolution that characterize different regions of the New World. He stresses the significance of New World prehistory as an essentially independent case of cultural evolution, displaying striking parallels to, yet also important differences from, the evolution of Old World cultures. He also includes a discussion of the development of American archaeology, from the early European encounters with native Americans to the "new" archaeology. Written from a balanced theoretical stance, the book covers a vast literature in a clear and accessible way, presenting up-to-date material and highlighting current debates. It will be invaluable for students of New World prehistory, as well as appealing to general readers interested in the archaeology of the Americas.The development of American archaeology: a brief review. From Africa to Siberia: early human migrations in the Old World. The Paleo-Indians. The Archaic: post-Pleistocene foragers. The origins of agriculture and village life. Chiefdoms and states: the emergence of complex societies. Parallel worlds.
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