The Great Paleolithic War: How Science Forged An Understanding Of America's Ice Age Past

Hardcover | November 3, 2015

byDavid J. Meltzer

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Following the discovery in Europe in the late 1850s that humanity had roots predating known history and reaching deep into the Pleistocene era, scientists wondered whether North American prehistory might be just as ancient. And why not? The geological strata seemed exactly analogous between America and Europe, which would lead one to believe that North American humanity ought to be as old as the European variety. This idea set off an eager race for evidence of the people who might have occupied North America during the Ice Age—a long, and, as it turned out, bitter and controversial search.
           
In The Great Paleolithic War, David J. Meltzer tells the story of a scientific quest that set off one of the longest-running feuds in the history of American anthropology, one so vicious at times that anthropologists were deliberately frightened away from investigating potential sites. Through his book, we come to understand how and why this controversy developed and stubbornly persisted for as long as it did; and how, in the process, it revolutionized American archaeology.

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Following the discovery in Europe in the late 1850s that humanity had roots predating known history and reaching deep into the Pleistocene era, scientists wondered whether North American prehistory might be just as ancient. And why not? The geological strata seemed exactly analogous between America and Europe, which would lead one to b...

David J. Meltzer is the Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory at Southern Methodist University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of Folsom and First Peoples in a New World. He lives in Dallas.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:680 pages, 10 × 7 × 1.8 inPublished:November 3, 2015Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022629322X

ISBN - 13:9780226293226

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"Readers clinging to the notion that science is a peaceful pursuit of the truth will be shocked by the story told in David J. Meltzer’s The Great Paleolithic War, which depicts science 'red in tooth and claw.' Denouncing one another as fakers, frauds, and charlatans, American archaeologists, anthropologists, glacial geologists, and vertebrate paleontologists fought to ascertain when humans first appeared in North America. Focusing on the controversies between the 1870s, when the debate erupted, and the late 1920s, when discoveries in New Mexico resolved it in favor of a Pleistocene antiquity of humans in the New World, the distinguished archaeologist Meltzer provides a riveting account of this momentous episode in the history of American science."