Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Tom D. Dillehay

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard W. Jefferies


Until relatively recently, the view of Late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers in the Americas was dominated by the “Clovis-first” paradigm. However, recent discoveries have challenged traditional views and forced reconsiderations of the timing, processes, and scales used in modeling the settlement of the Americas. Chief among these discoveries has been the recognition of a wide range of early cultural diversity throughout the Americas that is inconsistent with previously held notions of cultural homogeneity.

During the Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene, the development of widely varying economic, technological and mobility strategies in distinct environments is suggestive of a range of different adaptations and traditions.

It is argued that colonization was a disjointed process involving alternative, perhaps competing strategies at local and regional levels. Individual groups likely employed distinct strategies for settling new landscapes. These different strategies are reflected in the cultural variability that has been documented in the Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene archaeological records of South and North America. A scalar framework for conceptualizing and modeling this variability on local, regional, and continental scales is introduced. Although primarily focused on local and regional reconstructions, the results can be integrated with other regional studies to generate more comprehensive, continental-scale models of the peopling of the New World.

This research provides insight into the local and regional variability—in terms of settlement patterns and economic and technological strategies—present in the archaeological record of at least two formally recognized Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene complexes (Fishtail and Paiján complexes) in the Quebradas del Batán and Talambo of the lower Jequetepeque Valley, northern Perú. Results of extensive survey, excavation, and materials analyses are used to characterize mobility strategies and settlement organization. This research indicates that two distinct patterns of site types, settlement, subsistence, and technology existed at the local level between the Fishtail (ca. 11,200-10,200 B.P.) and Paiján (ca. 10,800-9,000 B.P.); these patterns are indicative of differing regional strategies of colonization. Lastly, it is suggested that the adaptations and behaviors pursued during regional settlement, particularly by Paiján groups, set in motion an increasing reliance on plant foods and an early trend toward sedentism that carried forward into the Holocene period.



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