Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 145–204

Earliest hunters and gatherers of South America

  • Tom D. Dillehay
  • Gerardo Ardila Calderón
  • Gustavo Politis
  • Maria da Conceicao de Moraes Coutinho Beltrão

DOI: 10.1007/BF00975549

Cite this article as:
Dillehay, T.D., Calderón, G.A., Politis, G. et al. J World Prehist (1992) 6: 145. doi:10.1007/BF00975549


Traditional syntheses of the archaeology of the late Pleistocene period in South America have focused primarily on the peopling of the continent by North American cultural groups and on identifying associations among regional sites. This focus has tended to ignore the widespread culture diversity of the period and the possible effects of different paleolandscapes on human migration and colonization, such as the presence of unglaciated tropical and temperate environments in the northern lowlands, the gateway to the interior. The earliest known cultural assemblages are characterized by various unifacial and bifacial lithic industries that may represent regional processes reminiscent of an Archaic lifeway. The major archaeological sites and associated artifact assemblages are examined in terms of regional and continental patterns of environmental and cultural change. Results suggest that the Pleistocene archaeological record of South America must be explained in its own terms and that the events and processes producing this record either occurred earlier than previously thought or are very different from those in North America.

Key words

human colonization Pleistocene hunter-gatherers South America lithic analysis paleoecology animal extinction Andes Amazonia 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom D. Dillehay
    • 1
  • Gerardo Ardila Calderón
    • 2
  • Gustavo Politis
    • 3
  • Maria da Conceicao de Moraes Coutinho Beltrão
    • 4
  1. 1.Universidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  2. 2.Departamento de AntropologíaUniversidad Nacional de ColombiaBogotáColombia
  3. 3.Division de Arqueología, Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias, Museo Nacional de Historia NaturalUniversidad Nacional de La Plata, Bosque del PaseoLa PlataArgentina
  4. 4.Setor de Arqueología, Museu NacionalUniversidad Federal do Río De JaneiroRío De JaneiroBrazil
  5. 5.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of KentuckyLexington