The Paleoindian to Archaic transition in the pacific northwest: In situ development or ethnic replacement?

James C. Chatters, Steven Hackenberger, Anna M. Prentiss, Jayne Leigh Thomas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In many parts of North America, as other chapters in this volume demonstrate, the change from Paleoindian to Archaic lifeways is demonstrably a transformation taking place within a single cultural tradition. In the southern interior of the Pacific Northwest, however, this event is marked by two traditions occurring in sequence. The Western Stemmed Tradition, which is the regional manifestation of Paleoindian, is followed by the Old Cordilleran Tradition, which marks the beginning of the Archaic. The two differ markedly in stone, bone and processing technologies, subsistence, tool and clothing styles, land use, settlement, and even the morphology of the participants themselves. In this paper we present the characteristics of the two traditions, explore their chronological distributions, and offer new information from Beech Creek, a site containing both traditions in an apparently continuous chronological sequence. We then consider possible explanations for this behavioral and morphological disjunction, finding ethnic replacement to be a better explanation than in situ evolution for the entire suite of changes. Both alternatives, to some extent, look to Early Holocene climatic change as a primary driver.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom the Pleistocene to the Holocene
Subtitle of host publicationHuman Organization and Cultural Transformations in Prehistoric North America
PublisherTexas A and M University
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781603447782
ISBN (Print)9781603447607
StatePublished - 2012


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