National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Bonnie L. Pitblado

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma

Bonnie Pitblado is Professor of Anthropology and the Robert and Virginia Bell Endowed Chair in Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, and she holds her degrees from Carleton College and the University of Arizona (MA and PhD).  Her research interests include the archaeology of the Paleoindian period, particularly the initial peopling of the New World more than 13,000 years ago, and the initial peopling of the Rocky Mountains.  Her current publication project is Peopling of the Americas: Central Controversies of the 21st Century for the Society of American Archaeology’s “Current Perspective” book series (due out in 2019).


This lecture, which is based on a book Dr. Pitblado is writing by the same name, discusses the central controversies that structure contemporary debates about the “Peopling of the New World” at the end of the Ice Age (13,000+ years ago).  Topics covered in the lecture include:

  • Cause(s) of Pleistocene Megafauna Extinctions (Human overkill?  Climate change?  An Extra-terrestrial event?!)
  • Timing of the Peopling of the Americas (13,000 years ago?  18,000?  30,000?  130,000?!)
  • Route(s) from the Old World to the New (Bering Land Bridge/Ice-Free Corridor?  Along the Pacific Rim by Boat?  From Iberia via an Atlantic Ocean crossing?!)

“Peopling” scholars are a notoriously cantankerous bunch of scholars, and so in addition to overviewing the “hot topics” in the field, the lecture will also characterize the tenor of discussion, which has been heated—to put it mildly—for more than 100 years.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

The above Wikipedia link provides a reasonable overview of the various topics covered in the lecture.  Otherwise, the best way for anyone to “taste” this subject is to do a “Google” search on “Peopling of the Americas” or “Peopling of the New World.”  They will get thousands of hits and can pick and choose what they might like to read.

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