Contributions of Archaeological Research in Panama to the Early Human History of the American Tropics

Author(s): Anthony Ranere; Richard Cooke

Year: 2015


There has been a sea change in our understanding of the early human occupation in the tropical lowlands of the Americas over the last 4 decades. Research carried out in Panama has contributed to this change in a number of ways. First, evidence of Terminal Pleistocene hunter-gatherer populations using both Clovis technology and presumably later fluted fishtail projectile point technology were recovered in tropical forest as well as open woodland habitats. Importantly, the pioneering analyses of phytoliths and starch grains by Dolores Piperno documented the early domestication and dispersal of tropical lowland plant species in the Americas. In addition, by establishing a massive comparative collection of terrestrial and aquatic faunas, a detailed assessment of faunal use over the last 8000 years has been established in the region. Finally, a probabilistic site survey of a tropical watershed documented changing settlement patterns and occupational densities from 13,000 years ago until contact. This research implied that New World tropical forests were occupied by hunter-gatherers as early as other non-forested tropical habitats and that tropical forest populations were key participants in the early domestication and widespread distribution of New World crops.

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Cite this Record

Contributions of Archaeological Research in Panama to the Early Human History of the American Tropics. Anthony Ranere, Richard Cooke. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 394928)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;