Lost World: Rewriting Prehistory—How New Science Is Tracing America’s Ice Age Mariners

ISBN: 074345359X
ISBN 13: 9780743453592
By: Tom Koppel

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About this book

For decades the issue seemed moot. The first settlers, we were told, were big-game hunters who arrived from Asia at the end of the Ice Age some 12,000 years ago, crossing a land bridge at the Bering Strait and migrating south through an ice-free passage between two great glaciers blanketing the continent. But after years of sifting through data from diverse and surprising sources, the maverick scientists whose stories Lost World follows have found evidence to overthrow the "big-game hunter" scenario and reach a new and startling and controversial conclusion: The first people to arrive in North America did not come overland -- they came along the coast by water. In this groundbreaking book, award-winning journalist Tom Koppel details these provocative discoveries as he accompanies the archaeologists, geologists, biologists, and paleontologists on their intensive search. Lost World takes readers under the sea, into caves, and out to the remote offshore islands of Alaska, British Columbia, and California to present detailed and growing evidence for ancient coastal migration. By accompanying the key scientists on their intensive investigations, Koppel brings to life the quest for that Holy Grail of New World prehistory: the first peopling of the Americas.

Reader's Thoughts

Angie Lisle

This book will probably bore anyone who isn't interested in the archaeological, anthropological, geological, or paleontological evidence surrounding the prehistoric migration of the first people in North America. Those with an interest will be entertained.The language is simple; the author presents a very vivid picture of the evidence supporting the possibility that prehistoric people migrated along the north-western coast of North America. However, he doesn't mention the hypothesis that the first North Americans may have came from across the Atlantic. He doesn't discuss the significance of ancient artifacts (Clovis points) found in North America that correlate to artifacts found in the Pyrenees, along with cave art that clearly details the hunting of sea creatures. He doesn't mention that carbon dating on ancient sites in North America show that the earliest sites are in the north-east (& that scientific efforts to collect data on the north-eastern coast meet many of the same problems that researchers have on the north-western coast).I'm not saying that I adhere to one (Pacific migration) or the other (Atlantic migration) hypothesis - I think it's very likely that both are accurate. But the author's failure to discuss the other hypothesis disappoints me.

Amanda Spacaj-Gorham

Really accessible to a non-academic reader. I particularly enjoyed the mentions of the Hiada legends and how those legends fit into climactic history.I followed it up with:"The First Americans The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World"Ed. Nina Jablonski The best section to follow this book is:"Ocean Trails and Prairie Paths? Thoughts about Clovis Origins"(spoiler alert think pre-historic trans-Atlantic).and also a long article in: World Archaeology 37.4 (2005) called "Debates in World Archaeology" by Straus, Meltzer and Goebel.

Last Ranger

Into the Terra Incognita!In this well written book, author Tom Koppel investigates the controversial question of how the first Paleo-Indians got to the Americas. Did they get here by land? It's a well known story: approximately 10,000 to 12,000 YBP, as the Ice Age was coming to an end, isolated bands of hunter-gatherers crossed the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska and first set foot on North America. In time, utilizing an ice-free corridor between two continent spanning glaciers, they migrated southward and found an Eden-like paradise filled with edible wild plants and abundant game animals to hunt. In an amazing short period of time they were able to colonize all of ice-free North America, Central America and, finally, South America, all the way to Tierra del Fuego. And, while they were doing all this exploring, they somehow found time to invent the Clovis blade and to bring about the extinction of the Ice Age Mega-Fauna on both continents. Since the 1920's most archaeologist have felt that the "Clovis First" theory best described how humans got to the new world. But it wasn't long before some dissenting voices were heard. Archeological finds in both North and South America seemed to be pushing the date back by hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The ice-free corridor also came under fire; did it actually exists?and if it did, could it have supported life? Artifacts and fossils were being found on the islands just off the Pacific coast of North America and being dated as pre-Clovis. Was it possible that an early seafaring people from coastal Siberia had migrated to the new world on some kind of water craft? Could they have survived the frigid conditions? Were there any ice-free areas along the way, coastal or islands, that could support life? To find out what the latest finds were Koppel worked alongside some professional archeologist at dry land digs on the Queen Charlotte Islands off BC, Canada. He was also on hand for some underwater work done in the Inside Passage just north of Vancouver Island. The idea that ancient mariners were able to skirt the glaciers by sea instead of walking through a 2000 mile long corridor to an untouched paradise is controversial, to say the least. Evidence for either theory is hard to come by and any artifacts that are found are subjected to intense scrutiny by both sides. In his book, Lost World, Koppel presents the ideas of professional scientist who think the sea route is not only possible but very likely. This debate may go on for a long time without any resolution and , in fact, may not ever be settled to everyone's satisfaction. Thousands of years ago humans did, somehow, make it to North America. Whether they came by land or sea, or some combination of the two, we may never know. This book will give you an inside look at how archeology works and at the intense debates that rage over a possible paradigm changing theory.Last Ranger

Mike Davis

Very interesting subject matter, but was slow sometimes. Mr. Koppel sometimes got more sidetracked with his telling of the story of how he researched the book instead of the point behind the book. Overall, though, I was glad to have read it.

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