The first Americans : in pursuit of archaeology's greatest mystery

by J. M. Adovasio

Other authorsJake Page
Paper Book, 2002



Call number

E61 .A36 2002


New York : Random House, c2002.


J. M. Adovasio has spent the last thirty years at the center of one of our most fiery scientific debates: Who were the first humans in the Americas, and how and when did they get there? At its heart, The First Americans is the story of the revolution in thinking that Adovasio and his fellow archaeologists have brought about, and the firestorm it has ignited. As he writes, “The work of lifetimes has been put at risk, reputations have been damaged, an astounding amount of silliness and even profound stupidity has been taken as serious thought, and always lurking in the background of all the argumentation and gnashing of tenets has been the question of whether the field of archaeology can ever be pursued as a science.”

User reviews

LibraryThing member scvlad
So, a while back I read 1491 which dipped into new findings in various aspects of pre-columbian American history. It was very interesting. This was kind of a follow-up. It deals with one of the areas covered in 1491, namely the question of when humans arrived in the Americas. Adovasio is an
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archaeologist who was responsible for the dig at Meadowcroft, an incredibly important site that provided the first solid evidence that humans inhabited N. America before 'Clovis man', i.e. prior to about 11,000 years ago. This book is his version of American archaeology leading up to this discovery, and how it and other similar digs has changed how we look at American pre-history.

This is Adovasio's personal story, as his and other recent finds generated a lot of controversy and heat from 'Clovis first' nay-sayers who firmly believed that humans could not been here prior to 11,000 years ago, and Adovasio doesn't mince many words in his opinions of them. Not that he should; I think it's clear that a lot of criticism of him and his work was very much undeserved and rooted in dogma rather than good science. And from this point of view it's a successful book. In between his obvious irritation, which is really only present in a couple of chapters, he successfully describes the history of American archaeology over the last two centuries and traces what it is we know, and how we got to knowing it. And he discusses the controversies that have raged over this entire time and how they eventually became resolved, including the one he was personally involved in.

A book for those with an interest in pre-history and in finding out how science is really done.
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Physical description

xii, 328 p.; 24 cm


0375505520 / 9780375505522



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