First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America
By David J. Meltzer--University of California Press, $29.95
Did the first Americans migrate from Europe--"Iberia, not Siberia"--as proponents of the idea like to claim? Did a rain of comets obliterate the woolly mammoth and the Clovis people? Meltzer calls these ideas "a hollow assertion" and "pseudoscientific." He focuses his attention on recent work by archaeologists, geologists, geneticists, skeletal biologists, and others in a comprehensive account of the debates surrounding who really colonized the New World and when.
Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets
By Jo Marchant--Da Capo Press, $25.00
The purpose of the so-called Antikythera Mechanism baffled archaeologists for almost a century--was it a clock, a computer, an astrological tool? Discovered by sponge divers off the Greek Island of Antikythera in 1901, what seemed to be a formless lump of corroded rock turned out to be a stunningly complex machine with at least 30 interlocking gears. The author follows the efforts of specialists to unravel the inner workings of the famous device.
Gold Rush Port: The Maritime Archaeology of San Francisco's Waterfront
By James P. Delgado--University of California Press,$45.00
"The tide still rises and falls on the beaches of 1849, albeit percolated through a thick matrix of mud, sand, and rubble," writes maritime archaeologist James Delgado in this account of excavating the ships beneath modern-day San Francisco. Converted to mud-moored warehouses, these storeships did booming business along the city's waterfront before succumbing to fires, landfilling, and urban development. For Delgado, they are "the quintessential San Francisco Gold Rush artifacts."