Archaeology of Native North America: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Archaeology of Native North America

1st Edition

By Dean R. Snow


408 pages

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This comprehensive text is intended for the junior-senior level course in North American Archaeology. Written by accomplished scholar Dean Snow, this new text approaches native North America from the perspective of evolutionary ecology. Succinct, streamlined chapters present an extensive groundwork for supplementary material, or serve as a core text.The narrative covers all of Mesoamerica, and explicates the links between the part of North America covered by the United States and Canada and the portions covered by Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and the Greater Antilles. Additionally, book is extensively illustrated with the author's own research and findings.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Why it Matters

Archaeological Science

Coping with Incomplete Information

The Use and Misuse of Evidence

Mistakes and Fakes

The Difference Between Biological and Cultural Evolution

Basic Concepts for the Study of Cultural Evolution

Ecological Approaches

North America and Human Potential

Geography and Basic Terms

The Special Place of Rock Art

Oral Tradition


Further Reading

2. Eurasian Origins


The Evolution of Modern Humans

Out of Africa

The Expansion of Modern Humans

Lines of Evidence from Living American Indians

Crossing Beringia

Traveling Companions

Archaeological Traces in Siberia

Swan Point

The Nenana Complex

The First Americans


Further Reading

3. The Peopling of America


Was Clovis Culture First?

Dubious Claims for Pre-Clovis Sites

More Likely Claims for Pre-Clovis Sites

The Paleoindian Period

Tracking Paleoindians from Beringia

The Nenana Complex Revisited

The Mesa Site

Accommodating the Monte Verde Site

Sites on the California Coast

Clovis Culture

The Atlantic Alternative

The Great Extinction

Paleoindian Skeletal Evidence

The End of the Paleoindian Period


Further Reading

4. Archaic Adaptations


Holocene Adaptations

The Roots of Domestication

The Luck of Good Location

Humanizing Environments


The Humanized Forest

Consequences for Human Adaptation

Hallmarks in Stone

Major Adaptive Trends in the Holocene

Insights from Ethnography

Managing Mobility

The Magic Number 500 and the Redefinition of Sharing

The Great Basin Laboratory

The Northeastern Archaic

Other Archaic Cultures

Evolving Technology

Centers of Plant Domestication


Further Reading

5. The Moundbuilders

The Environment of the Eastern Woodlands

First Impressions

The Roots of Mound Building in the Eastern Woodlands

Adena Culture

Hopewell Culture

Later Burial Moundbuilders

The Beginnings of Platform Mounds


Further Reading

6. The Greater Southwest


The First Farmers

Language Families

Regional Ecology



Ancestral Pueblo



The Contraction of Greater Southwest Cultures

Later Ancestral Pueblo and Modern Descendants

Arrival of the Athapaskans


Further Reading

7. Mesoamerican Civilization


Mesoamerican Geography

The Consequences of Plant Domestication

Mesoamerican Chronology

The Olmecs

Olmec Polities

Olmec Centers

Highland Mexico



Competing City-States


Maya Civilization

Major Maya City-States

The Maya Collapse

The Mesoamerican Ball Game

The Rest of Mesoamerica


Further Reading

8. Postclassic Mesoamerica


The Postclassic Period

The Toltecs

The Rise of the Aztecs

Aztec Society and Empire

Aztec Religion


Aztec Calendar and Math

Native Books

The Aztec Imperial Economy

The End of Native Empires

The Rest of Mexico

The Postclassic Maya

Highland Central America


Further Reading

9. The Mississippians


Mississippians and Mesoamericans

The Rise of Maize Farming

Middle Mississippian

South Appalachian Mississippian

Plaquemine Mississippian

Caddoan Mississippian Societies


Further Reading

10. The Northeastern Forests


The Rise of Farming Cultures in the Northern Woodlands

The Descendants of Hopewell

The Algonquian Expansion

Wild Rice Gathering

Algonquian Rock Art

Later Eastern Algonqians

Northern Iroquoians

The Formation of Confederacies

The Workings of the League of the Iroquois

Demographic Change and Adaptation

The Central Algonquians and Siouans

Other Northerners and Other Adjustments

Epidemics and Depopulation


Further Reading

11. The Gulf Rim


The Gulf Environment

Early Mound Building

Troyville-Coles Creek Culture

Weeden Island, Fort Walton, and Safety Harbor Cultures

Southern Florida

The Northern Gulf Coast

The Antilles

The Mexican Gulf Coast


Further Reading

12. The Interior West


The Great Plains

Northern Plains Hunter-Gatherers

Southern Plains Hunter-Gatherers

Plains Woodland Cultures

Plains Village Cultures

The Great Basin

The Plateau

The Horse Nomads


Further Reading

13. The West Coast


The Northwest Coast

Historic Northwest Coast Cultures

The Roots of Northwest Coast Culture

Southern Northwest Coast


The Man Called Ishi

Baja California


Further Reading

14. The Arctic and Subarctic

The Arctic Environment

Arctic Stage 1: The Earliest Evidence

Arctic Stage 2: Finding Solutions

Arctic Stage 3: The Arctic Small Tool Tradition

Arctic Stage 4: Kachemak, Choris, Norton, Ipiutak, Dorset, and Old Bering Sea

Arctic Stage 5: Thule Culture

The Norse

The Subarctic


Further Reading

15. Worlds in Collision


The Columbian Exchange

American Indian Populations

The Development of Archaeology

The Rise of Professional Archaeology

Archaeology and American Indians

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act



Further Reading


About the Author

Dean R. Snow is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Penn State University. He is an archaeologist who specializes in ethnohistoric and demographic problems. In recent years his work has led him into Geographic Information Systems (GIS) approaches to these issues. He has conducted research in Mexico and in the northeastern region of North America, where his work on the Iroquois is particularly well known. His current research includes cyberinfrastructure and the development of large GIS databases designed to explore large-scale population movements over time and space. He is also currently researching the sexual dimorphism of human handprints and hand stencils in the Upper Paleolithic caves of France and Spain.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology

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