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The Great Paleolithic WarHow Science Forged an Understanding of America's Ice Age Past$
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David J. Meltzer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226293226

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226293363.001.0001

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The American Paleolithic Comes of Age, 1882–1889

The American Paleolithic Comes of Age, 1882–1889

Chapter:
(p.71) Chapter Four The American Paleolithic Comes of Age, 1882–1889
Source:
The Great Paleolithic War
Author(s):

David J. Meltzer

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226293363.003.0004

In the 1880s paleoliths were reported from widely scattered sites such as Little Falls, Minnesota and New Comerstown, Ohio. Some were found in geological circumstances that suggested a late Pleistocene antiquity, others hinted of an older human presence, perhaps dating to a previous glacial period. Assuming there were multiple glacial periods. The 1880s also saw the difference of opinion regarding the number and timing of glacial episodes become more sharply defined. Most geologists, led by Thomas Chamberlin of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Glacial Division considered the question resolved in favor of multiple glacial episodes. G.F. Wright steadfastly held to the idea there'd been one glacial advance, even while employed by the Glacial Division. His claims, such as the idea the glacier dammed the Ohio River at Cincinnati, were angrily disputed by Chamberlin who, because of attacks on the USGS on Capitol Hill, tied him to awkwardly to Wright. Their relationship grew heated as Wright began to fashion himself a public spokesman for glacial geology. Yet, even as the geological situation became increasingly contentious, an archaeological consensus was emerging. By decade's end the American Paleolithic was almost universally accepted: the only lingering question was how far back in time it began.

Keywords:   Little Falls site, New Comerstown site, United States Geological Survey (USGS), Thomas Chamberlin, multiple glacial periods, Cincinnati Ice Dam, American Paleolithic

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