Paleoindian Cave Dwellers in the Amazon: The Peopling of the Americas

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Science  19 Apr 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5260, pp. 373-384
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5260.373


A Paleoindian campsite has been uncovered in stratified prehistoric deposits in Caverna da Pedra Pintada at Monte Alegre in the Brazilian Amazon. Fifty-six radiocarbon dates on carbonized plant remains and 13 luminescence dates on lithics and sediment indicate a late Pleistocene age contemporary with North American Paleoindians. Paintings, triangular bifacial spear points, and other tools in the cave document a culture distinct from North American cultures. Carbonized tree fruits and wood and faunal remains reveal a broad-spectrum economy of humid tropical forest and riverine foraging. The existence of this and related cultures east of the Andes changes understanding of the migrations and ecological adaptations of early foragers.