Tom Dillehay

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Tom Dillehay

Tom Dillehay (born 23 July 1947 in Los Angeles) is an American anthropologist currently serving as the Rebecca Webb Wilson University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Religion, and Culture, as well as a Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University. He has previously held teaching positions at the Universidad Austral de Chile and the University of Kentucky. Since 1977, Dillehay has been actively involved in the excavations at Monte Verde, a site in Chile where an early human settlement was discovered in 1975. Based on calibrated carbon 14 dates, Dillehay proposes that the remains found at Monte Verde are approximately 14,800 years old. [1] This evidence challenges the prevailing Clovis theory, which suggests that the first humans arrived in the Americas around 15,000 years ago, indicating the possibility of an earlier human presence in South America. [2]


In addition to his archaeological work, Dillehay has conducted ethnographic research among the Mapuche people of southern Chile and the Jívaro community in northern Peru.


Related Research Articles

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Clovis culture is a prehistoric Paleoamerican archaeological culture, named for distinct stone and bone tools found in close association with Pleistocene fauna, particularly two Columbian mammoths, at Blackwater Locality No. 1 near Clovis, New Mexico, in 1936 and 1937, though Paleoindian artifacts had been found at the site since the 1920s. It existed from roughly 11,500 to 10,800 BCE near the end of the Last Glacial Period.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monte Verde</span> Archaeological site in Llanquihue Province, Chile

Monte Verde is a Paleolithic archaeological site in the Llanquihue Province in southern Chile, located near Puerto Montt, Los Lagos Region. It contains two separate layers, the younger Monte Verde II, dating to 14,500 cal BP, and an older, much more controversial layer suggested to date to 18,500 cal BP. The Monte Verde II site has been considered key evidence showing that the human settlement of the Americas pre-dates the Clovis culture by roughly 1,000 years. This contradicts the previously accepted "Clovis first" model which holds that settlement of the Americas began after 13,500 cal BP. The Monte Verde findings were initially dismissed by most of the scientific community, but the evidence then became more accepted in archaeological circles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Austral University of Chile</span>

Austral University of Chile is a Chilean research university based primarily in Valdivia, with satellite campuses in Puerto Montt and Coyhaique. Founded on September 7, 1954, it is one of the eight original Chilean Traditional Universities. It operates as a nonprofit self-owned corporation under private law, and receives significant state-funding.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paleo-Indians</span> Classification term given to the first peoples who entered the American continents

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Mario Pino Quivira is a Chilean geologist specialized in geoarchaeology and sedimentology that has been involved in several studies of early human settlements in Southern Chile. After Tom Dillehay's excavation of Monte Verde near Puerto Montt, where human remains estimated to be about 12,800 years old have been found, challenging the Clovis theory of the first human arrival in the Americas, Pino controversially claimed the site was 33,000 years old. Other studied sites includes the Chan-Chan settlement near Mehuín and the Gomphotherium of Osorno.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pedra Furada</span> Collection of archaeological sites in Brazil

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Luzia Woman</span> Upper Paleolithic period skeleton of a Paleo-Indian woman

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cueva Fell</span> Cave and archaeological site in Patagonia

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Anna Curtenius Roosevelt is an American archaeologist and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois Chicago. She studies human evolution and long-term human-environment interaction. She is one of the leading American archeologists studying Paleoindians in the Amazon basin. Her field research has included significant findings at Marajo Island and Caverna da Pedra Pintada in Brazil. She does additional field work in the Congo Basin. She is the great-granddaughter of United States President Theodore Roosevelt.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paiján culture</span>

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The Amotape complex is an archaeological culture on the northern coast of Peru dated to between c. 9,000 and 7,100 BCE. It constitutes some of the oldest evidence for human occupation of the Peruvian coast. The Amotape complex was identified by the American anthropologist James Richardson III, who located a dozen small camps in the Peruvian coastal desert at the foot of the Amotape hills, near the modern city of Talara. The people of the Amotope complex were hunter–gatherers who manufactured unifacial stone tools in chalcedony and quartzite to exploit a variety of local plants and animals. They also collected shellfish in the mangrove swamps which covered the coastline at that time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Huaca Prieta</span> Archaeological site in Peru

Huaca Prieta is the site of a prehistoric settlement beside the Pacific Ocean in the Chicama Valley, just north of Trujillo, La Libertad Province, Peru. It is a part of the El Brujo Archaeological Complex, which also includes Moche (culture) sites.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prehispanic history of Chile</span>

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As an archaeological culture, the Mapuche people of southern Chile and Argentina have a long history which dates back to 600–500 BC. The Mapuche society underwent great transformations after Spanish contact in the mid–16th century. These changes included the adoption of Old World crops and animals and the onset of a rich Spanish–Mapuche trade in La Frontera and Valdivia. Despite these contacts Mapuche were never completely subjugated by the Spanish Empire. Between the 18th and 19th century Mapuche culture and people spread eastwards into the Pampas and the Patagonian plains. This vast new territory allowed Mapuche groups to control a substantial part of the salt and cattle trade in the Southern Cone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andean preceramic</span>

The Andean preceramic refers to the early period of human occupation in the Andean area of South America that preceded the introduction of ceramics. This period is also called pre-ceramic or aceramic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chinchorro culture</span> Preceramic culture

The Chinchorro culture of South America was a preceramic culture that lasted from 9,100 to 3,500 years BP. The people forming the Chinchorro culture were sedentary fishermen inhabiting the Pacific coastal region of current northern Chile and southern Peru. Presence of fresh water in the arid region on the coast facilitated human settlement in this area. The Chinchorro were famous for their detailed mummification and funerary practices. The area of the Chinchorro culture started to receive influences from the Andean Plateau around 4,000 BP, which led to the adoption of agriculture. Much later, it came under the influence of the Tiwanaku Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peopling of the Americas</span> Prehistoric migration from Asia to the Americas

The peopling of the Americas began when Paleolithic hunter-gatherers entered North America from the North Asian Mammoth steppe via the Bering land bridge, which had formed between northeastern Siberia and western Alaska due to the lowering of sea level during the Last Glacial Maximum. These populations expanded south of the Laurentide Ice Sheet and spread rapidly southward, occupying both North and South America, by 12,000 to 14,000 years ago. The earliest populations in the Americas, before roughly 10,000 years ago, are known as Paleo-Indians. Indigenous peoples of the Americas have been linked to Siberian populations by linguistic factors, the distribution of blood types, and in genetic composition as reflected by molecular data, such as DNA.

The origin of the Mapuche has been a matter of research for over a century. The genetics of the Mapuche do not show overly clear affinities with any other known indigenous group in the Americas, and the same goes for linguistics, where the Mapuche language is considered a language isolate. Archaeological evidence shows Mapuche culture has existed in Chile at least since 600 to 500 BC. Mapuches are late arrivals in their southernmost and easternmost (Pampas) areas of settlement, yet Mapuche history in the north towards Atacama Desert may be older than historic settlement suggest. The Mapuche has received significant influence from Pre-Incan (Tiwanaku?), Incan and Spanish peoples, but deep origins of the Mapuche predates these contacts. Contact and conflict with the Spanish Empire are thought by scholars such as Tom Dillehay and José Bengoa to have had a profound impact on the shaping of the Mapuche ethnicity.

The coastal migration hypothesis is one of two leading hypotheses about the settlement of the Americas at the time of the Last Glacial Maximum. It proposes one or more migration routes involving watercraft, via the Kurile island chain, along the coast of Beringia and the archipelagos off the Alaskan-British Columbian coast, continuing down the coast to Central and South America. The alternative is the hypothesis solely by interior routes, which assumes migration along an ice-free corridor between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum.


  1. «Monte Verde Archaeological Site». Tentative List of Properties of Outstanding Universal Value. World Heritage - United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Consultado el 9 de octubre de 2013.
  2. Dillehay, Tom D.; Carlos Ocampo; José Saavedra; Andre Oliveira Sawakuchi; Rodrigo Vega; Mario Pino; Michael Collins; Linda Scott Cummings; Iván Arregui; Ximena Villagran; Gelvam Hartmann; Mauricio Mella; Andrea González & George Dix (2015). «New Archaeological Evidence for an Early Human Presence at Monte Verde, Chile». PLoS ONE. 10 (11): e0141923. doi : 10.1371/journal.pone.0141923.