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October 28th, 2007

New book: Human Ecology of Beringia

John Hoffecker and Scott Elias have produced a synthesis of environment and human settlement in Beringia, published by Columbia University Press.

As during earlier cold periods, falling sea level during the Last Glacial Maximum exposed an immense plain between Northeast Asia and Alaska, joining the hemispheres with a land bridge and creating the continent of Beringia. Permanent human occupation began following the end of the Last Glacial Maximum—before rising sea level had caught up with changing climate and biota—as shrub tundra spread across Beringia. Human Ecology of Beringia describes the archaeology of this twilight shrub tundra world and suggests how its inhabitants coped with an evolving postglacial fauna and continuing scarcity of wood. The book recounts the resurgence of cooler climates during the Younger Dryas and their profound effect on human settlement, and explores the relevance of Beringian archaeology to the problem of the peopling of the New World. Human Ecology of Beringia also contains an essay on Beringian technology by INSTAAR’s Craig Lee.