The North American Paleocoastal Concept Reconsidered

Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


The Pleistocene archaeological record of North America’s Pacific coast is understood from only a handful of sites that postdate the continent’s earliest interior sites by at least 500 radiocarbon years. Like other coastal regions of the world, the reasons that early North American Pacific coastal sites are so few in number relate to late Quaternary environmental history: postglacial marine transgression submerged older coastal terrains and sites, leaving behind only a small portion of a previously larger coastal and pericoastal landscape and any sites it might contain (cf. Davis et al. 2009). Although many early continental sites were also surely destroyed or concealed by periglacial and postglacial geomorphic processes, few regions, such as those parts of the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River drainage that were affected by the catastrophic outburst floods of Glacial Lake Missoula and Pluvial Lake Bonneville, share the same extremes of postdepositional history as the world’s coastal zones. In spite of these difficulties of site preservation, a small number of late Pleistocene-aged North American Pacific coastal sites are known from British Columbia to Baja California Sur.


Archaeological Record Marine Isotope Stage Coastal Site Kelp Forest Eastern Pacific Ocean 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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