Monte Verde

As I browsed the list of possible sites for the great discoveries project I came across Monte Verde, which I recognized as a site discussed in the textbook. Monte Verde is potentially the oldest known settlement on either of the american continents, dating back to 12,200 BC. It is located in northern Chile and was excavated by Tom Dillehay. It was initially discovered in 1975, and is estimated to be about 1000 years older than the next oldest site. I find it interesting that one of the oldest known settlements in the Americas is in the southern hemisphere. The textbook says that people came to the Americas from asia over the Bering strait land bridge. It would seem if this was the case that the first settlements would be in Alaska or the northwest regions of Canada and the U.S. Perhaps discoveries have not yet been made here due to the hostile environment. The fact that these first Americans appear in the Southern hemisphere is perplexing in this context. These people would have migrated south along the west coast of the continent because apparently this region was not entirely buried under glaciers. So it makes sense that there is a settlement in Chile, but many other sites have been found in central america and mexico and the southwest U.S. are not as old as Monte Verde. One possible explanation is that the people who came from asia were a seafaring culture, similar to the native cultures living in this part of the world today. Their extensive marine knowledge could have enabled them to travel primarily by sea down the west coast rather than on land, which would have been easier. There is also proof that sea levels have risen by as much as 200 feet from the time when the migration occurred, potentially submerging other sites under water that would mark the progression of the migration down the west coast.

The Clovis people are the first designated culture to settle the Americas, with sites dating back to 11,200 BC. They are found in North and Central America and are named after the town in New Mexico in which the first site was discovered. These are the most likely candidates connected with the site at Monte Verde, even though the sites are as much as 1000 years apart. 

There is apparently one site in Alaska that may link American settlement as far back as 11,800 BC. It is not conclusive however due to the minimal amount of material at the site.