Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Bering Land Bridge

The Bering Land Bridge , the Jesuit scholar José de Acosta suggested that the peoples of the Americas arrived via a now-submerged land bridge from Asia as primitive hunters, later settling into sedentary communities and cities. In Notes on the State of Virginia (1781), Thomas Jefferson theorized that the ancestors of Native Americans crossed the Bering Strait from Asia, a viewpoint that came to prevail in the 20th century, as carbon dating and molecular genetics began to shed light on the origins of native populations.

Between the 1950s and the 1980s, the Bering Land Bridge theory came to be viewed as proven beyond any doubt. Most archaeologists came to believe that the native cultures of the Americas had been isolated from the Old World after the closing of the Bering land route, when they were still in the hunter-gatherer stage and developed without any outside influences for the next 9,000 years until the time of Columbus. It was also believed at the time that trans-oceanic travel only became possible in the 15th century, after key advances in Old World shipbuilding and navigation. This belief is supported by the lack of substantial evidence of Old World influences on American civilizations.

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