9781441982186-c1 - Chapter 2 Prehistoric Archaeology Underwater A Nascent Subdiscipline Critical to Understanding Early Coastal Occupations and

9781441982186-c1 - Chapter 2 Prehistoric Archaeology...

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27N.F. Bicho et al. (eds.), Trekking the Shore: Changing Coastlines and the Antiquity of Coastal Settlement, Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology,DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-8219-3_2, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011IntroductionAwareness of and interest in the role that coastlines and coastal adaptations played in the development and dispersal of anatomically modern humans have grown over the last few decades. Scattered evidence for marine exploitation between 125,000 and 12,000 cal BP has been identified in Africa (Henshilwood et al. 2001; Singer and Wymer 1982; Walter et al. 2000), Eurasia (Stiner 1999; Straus et al. 1993), and North America (Erlandson et al. 1996). Yet, robust archaeological evidence for coastal activities accrues worldwide predominantly after 10,000 cal BP (Des Lauriers 2005; Dixon et al. 1997; Dunbar 1997; Erlandson 2002; Glassow et al. 2008; Jacobsen 1973; Keefer et al. 1998; Sandweiss et al. 1998; Stothert 1985). This relatively late appearance of clear-cut evidence for early coastal exploitation has been used to propose that early humans had little interest in coasts until stressed to seek less productive resources (Yesner 1987). Conversely, many researchers argue that the paucity of identified coastal sites dating to earlier times is more likely a result of our inability to locate these sites, rather than a lack of interest in coasts and coastal resources by early humans (Dixon 2001; Erlandson 2001; Kraft et al. 1983). Numerous Pleistocene age coastlines were deeply submerged during the postglacial period of eustatic sea level rise; and in areas such as the Northwest Coast of North America, isotastic rebound outpaced sea level rise, leaving Pleistocene coastal landscapes miles inland from current shorelines. These factors conspire to make locating Pleistocene landscapes difficult, and identifying preserved sites on those landscapes, a challenge.While factors affecting visibility of coastal sites have a global impact on archae-ological research, the submersion of North American coastlines due to eustatic sea level rise presents a particularly significant obstacle in clarifying New World archaeological migration models and chronologies. Although the exact manner and A.E. Gusick (*) Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3210, USA e-mail: [email protected]Chapter 2Prehistoric Archaeology Underwater: A Nascent Subdiscipline Critical to Understanding Early Coastal Occupations and Migration RoutesAmy E. Gusick and Michael K. Faught
28A.E. Gusick and M.K. Faughttiming of an initial human migration into the New World remain in discussion (Adovasio et al. 1978; Barton et al. 2004; Bradley and Stanford 2004; Faught 2008; Gruhn 1988), a Pleistocene Pacific coastal migration has been hypothesized to have occurred before 13,000 cal BP, when sea levels were lower than today (Dixon 2001; Faught 2008; Fladmark 1979; Mandryk et al. 2001; Waters and Stafford 2007).

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