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A carefully researched and up-to-date history of North American settlement, from around 15,000 years ago to the arrival of Europeans in the fifteenth century AD.This new history of North America is based mainly on archaeology, but also on cutting-edge research in many scientific disciplines, from biology and climatology to ethnohistory and high-tech chemistry and physics. Brian Fagan describes the controversies over first settlement, which likely occurred via Siberia at the end of the Ice Age, and the debates over the routes used as humans moved southward into the heart of the continent. A remarkable diversity of hunter-gatherer societies evolved in the rapidly changing North American environments, and the book explores the ingenious ways in which people adapted to every kind of landscape imaginable, from arctic tundra to open plains and thick woodland.
Professor Fagan recounts the increasingly sophisticated acclimation by Native Americans to arctic, arid and semiarid lands, culminating in the spectacular Ancestral Pueblo societies of the Southwest and the elaborate coastal settlements of California and the Pacific Northwest. He then traces the origins of the Moundbuilder societies of the Eastern Woodlands, which reached their apogee in the flamboyant Mississippian culture of the South and Southeast and the mounds of the ancient city of Cahokia. The book ends with a description of the Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples of the Northeast and St. Lawrence Valley, and an epilogue that enumerates the devastating consequences of European contact for Native Americans. 26 color and 165 black-and-white illustrations