When Did Humans Come to the Americas?

Recent scientific findings date their arrival earlier than ever thought, sparking hot debate among archaeologists

(Illustration by Andy Martin)
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These days Waters says his research focuses on pre-Clovis or likely pre-Clovis sites where more information can be obtained. Unlike many of his colleagues, Waters isn’t captive to peer reviewers at granting agencies; the Center for the Study of the First Americans also has its own funding. “In the past you’d propose something and send it out for review, and the Clovis people would shoot it down,” he said.

It was against the backdrop of renewed enthusiasm for findings predating Clovis settlements that Waters reopened the Page-Ladson site on the Aucilla River. For Waters, the debate about Clovis “is finished,” he said over breakfast one morning in Perry, Florida, before we went out to the Aucilla site. “The objective everywhere we go is to learn more about pre-Clovis by doing good science. I’m investigating the first Americans.” If some folks don’t want to believe it, he added, “that’s up to them.”


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