Our Mission I History I Facilities I Center Staff I Contact
The mission of the Center for the Study of the First Americans is to pursue research, train students, promote scientific dialogue, and stimulate public interest in the first people to enter and settle the Americas at the end of the last Ice Age.
Education:The Center trains students to become well-informed and thoughtful scientists–the next generation of archaeologists and First American researchers.
Outreach: The Center disseminates the results of academic research about the First Americans to the professional community and the general public through its publications, workshops, and conventions.
The First Americans
The last continents to be populated by modern humans were North and South America. We know that this occurred sometime during the late Pleistocene–the end of the last Ice Age. Even though this topic has been studied for over a hundred years, we still do not know with certainty–When did the first people enter the Americas? Who were these people and from where did they come? Which routes did these people take to enter unglaciated North America? What sorts of environments and climates die the First Americans encounter? How did they first people expand and adapt to the Western Hemisphere’s varied environment? These and many other questions remain open to debate.
Understanding the process of the peopling of the Americas is one of the most important questions in American archaeology. All Indigenous Americans are derive from these first people. The study of the First Americans is an interdisciplinary and international endeavor.
In 1981, Dr. Robson Bonnichsen, an associate professor of Anthropology and Quaternary Studies at the University of Maine, established the Center for the Study of Early Man and served as its first Director. The creation of the Center was made possible through a generous donation by the Bingham Trust. In 1990, the name of the Center was changed to the Center for the Study of the First Americans. Dr. Bonnichsen moved the Center from Maine to Oregon State University in Corvallis in 1994.
The Center relocated to its permanent home at Texas A&M University in the summer of 2002 to be in a more active academic setting with many education, research, and outreach opportunities. Dr. Bonnichsen served as the Center Director until his death in December 2004. Dr. Michael Waters, who served as Associate Director from 2002-2004, became the Director in January 2005. Dr. Ted Goebel became Associate Director of the Center in September 2006.
While still Director of the Center, Dr. Bonnichsen convened several influential conferences that set new directions in the field, including the 1989 First World Summit Conference at the University of Maine and the 1999 international peopling of the Americas conference called “Clovis and Beyond” in Santa Fe. Dr. Bonnichsen founded the Center’s quarterly news magazine, the Mammoth Trumpet, and the Center’s annual journal, Current Research in the Pleistocene (discontinued in 2011). Dr. Bonnichsen also established the Center’s book series and published 14 books. Also during this time, he was pursuing his own pioneering research. Professor Bonnichsen was known nationally and internationally for his interdisciplinary research projects, syntheses of the field, and as a spokesperson for First American studies.
The Center is located on the second floor of the Anthropology building. The space occupied by the Center includes an office suite and four laboratories. In the office suite, Center faculty, the Center office manager, and Center graduate students have offices. Each faculty member has a separate laboratory under their individual management. The fourth laboratory houses two microscopes used for lithic use-wear analysis, a petrographic microscope, a Bruker P-XRF, sediment analyzer, Mastersizer sediment analyzer, and photographic equipment. In addition to these resources, the Center has a collection of over 1,200 Paleoindian projectile point casts for teaching and research. The Center also has a type collection of Texas projectile point types and a teaching collection of lithic specimens and artifacts. The Center maintains a comprehensive library of more than 3000 volumes related to First Americans archaeology, including many site excavation reports, as well as an archive of reprints and many hard to find articles. The Center has a large array of field equipment needed for field projects conducted by Center faculty and students.
The Center has three full-time faculty who exclusively investigate problems related to the First Americans–Michael Waters, Ted Goebel, and Kelly Graf. Michael Waters serves as the Center’s Director. Ted Goebel serves at the Center’s Associate Director and Editor of PaleoAmerica. Kelly Graf serves as a faculty member and research scientist. In addition, the Center has two Affiliated Faculty–Anna Linderholm and Heather Thacker. These faculty frequently work with Center faculty and students. The Center has a part-time Office Manager, Center Research Associate, and Editor of the Mammoth Trumpet. The Center maintains an external Board of Advisors who help the Center in many ways.
Dr. Michael Waters is the Director of the Center and Executive Director of the North Star Archaeological Research Program. He is known for his expertise in First American studies and geoarchaeology. Waters has worked on archaeological field projects in the United States, Mexico, Russia, Jamaica, and Yemen. His current research projects include the investigation of the Debra L. Friedkin Site, Texas, Hall’s Cave, Texas, the Page-Ladsen site, Florida, and other sites. He has authored or co-authored numerous journal articles and book chapters and is the author of Principles of Geoarchaeology: A North American Perspective. Waters received the 2003 Kirk Bryan Award and the 2004 Rip Rapp Archaeological Geology Award given by the Geological Society of America. In 2017, he was named Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor. C.V. ResearchGate Profile
Center for the Study of the First Americans
Waters, M. R., Keene, J. L., Forman, S. L., Prewitt, E. R., Carlson, D. L., and Wiederhold, J. E., 2018, Pre-Clovis Projectile Points at the Debra L. Friedkin site, Texas–Implications for the Late Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas. Science Advances, v. 4, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat4505.
Becerra-Valdivia, L., Waters, M. R., Stafford, T. W., Anzick, S. L., Comeskey, D., Devièse, T., and Higham, T., 2018, Reassessing the Chronology of the Archaeological Site of Anzick. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 115, p. 7000-7003.
Halligan, J., Waters, M. R.*, Perrotti, A., Owens, I. J., Feinberg, J. M., Bourne, M. D., Fenerty, B., Winsborough, B., Carlson, D., Fisher, D. C., Stafford, T. W., and Dunbar, J. S., 2016, Pre-Clovis occupation 14,550 years ago at the Page-Ladson site, Florida, and the peopling of the Americas. Science Advances, v. 2, no. 5, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600375. (*Note: As noted in the article, both Halligan and Waters contributed equally to the research and paper.)
Waters, M. R., and Jennings, T. A., 2015, The Hogeye Clovis Cache, Texas. College, Station, Texas A&M University Press.
Waters, M. R., Stafford, T. W., Kooyman, B., and Hills, L. V. (2015) Late Pleistocene horse and camel hunting at the southern margin of the Ice-Free corridor: Reassessing the age of Wally’s Beach, Canada. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, v. 112, p. 4263-4267.
Rasmussen, M., Anzick, S. L., Waters, M. R., Skoglund, P., DeGiorgio, M., Stafford, T. W., Rasmussen, S., Moltke, I., Albrechtsen, A., Doyle, S. M., Poznik, G. D., Gudmundsdottir, V., Yadav, R., Malaspinas, A., White, S. S., Allentoft, M. E., Cornejo, O. E., Tambets, K., Eriksson, A., Heintzman, P. D., Karmin, M., Korneliussen, T. S., Meltzer, D. J., Pierre, T. L., Stenderup, J., Saag, L., Warmuth, V., Lopes, M. C., Malhi, R. S., Brunak, S., Sicheritz-Ponten, S., Barnes, I., Collins, M., Orlando, L., Balloux, F., Manica, A., Gupta, R., Metspalu, M., Bustamante, C. D., Jakobsson, M., Nielsen, R., and Willerslev, E. (2014) The geonome of a late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in western Montana. Nature, v. 506, p. 225-229.
Waters, M. R., and Stafford, T. W., Jr., 2014, The First Americans: a review of the evidence for the Late-Pleistocene peopling of the Americas, in Graf, K. E., Ketron, C. V., and Waters, M. R., eds., Paleoamerican Odyssey: College Station, Texas A&M University Press, p. 541-560.
Waters, M. R., Stafford, T. W., McDonald, H. G., Gustafson, C., Rasmussen, M., Cappellini, E., Olsen, J. V., Szklarczyk, D., Jensen, L. J., Gilbert, M. T. P., and Willerslev, E., 2011, Pre-Clovis mastodon hunting 13,800 years ago at the Manis site, Washington. Science, v. 334, p. 351-353.
Waters, M. R., Pevny, C. D., and Carlson, D. L., 2011, Clovis Lithic Technology: Investigation of a Stratified Workshop at the Gault Site, Texas. College Station, Texas A&M University Press, 226 p.
Waters, M. R., Forman, S. L., Jennings, T. A., Nordt, L. C., Driese, S. G., Feinberg, J. M., Keene, J. L., Halligan, J., Lindquist, A., Pierson, J., Hallmark, C. T., Collins, M. B., and Wiederhold, J. B., 2011, The Buttermilk Creek Complex and the Origins of Clovis at the Debra L. Friedkin Site, Texas. Science, v. 331, p. 1599-1603.
Waters, M. R., and Stafford, T. W., 2007, Redefining the age of Clovis: Implications for the
Waters, M. R., 1992, Principles of Geoarchaeology: A North American Perspective. Tucson, University of Arizona Press, 398 p.
Center Associate Director
Dr. Ted Goebel is the Associate Director of the Center. He is known for his expertise in First American studies and lithic analysis. Goebel has worked on many early sites in Russia and the United States. From 2000-2009 he directed excavations at Bonneville Estates Rockshelter (Nevada) and other Paleoindian sites in the Great Basin, and in 2007 he initiated a new research program investigating the Ice Age colonization of the Bering Land Bridge area – Alaska and northeast Asia. In 2009-2010 the Beringia program has focused on excavation of the Serpentine Hot Springs fluted point site (Alaska), production of the book From the Yenisei to the Yukon: Interpreting Lithic Assemblage Variability in Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene Beringia, and survey for new sites in different area of Alaska. Goebel advised graduate students investigating a wide range of topics including Clovis technology in the American Southeast, the stemmed-point complex of the intermountain west during the terminal Pleistocene, fluted point technology in the north, and human settlement of central Alaska’s uplands. In 2011 and 2012 Goebel is a Sigma Xi distinguished lecturer. C.V.
Center for the Study of the First Americans
Goebel, T., and B. A. Potter (2015, in press) First traces: Late Pleistocene human settlement of the Arctic. In Handbook of Arctic Archaeology, edited by O. Mason and M. Friesen. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Goebel, T. (2014) The overland dispersal of modern humans to eastern Asia: an alternative, northern route from Africa. In Emergence and Diversity of Modern Human Behavior in Paleolithic Asia, edited by Y. Kaifu, M. Izuho, T. Goebel, H. Sato, and A. Ono, pp. 437-452. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Goebel, T. (2014) Clovis Culture Update. In Clovis: On the Edge of a New Understanding, edited by A. M. Smallwood and T. A. Jennings, pp. 325-352. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Kaifu, Y., M. Izuho, T. Goebel, H. Sato, and A. Ono (editors (2014) Emergence and Diversity of Modern Human Behavior in Paleolithic Asia. Texas A&M University Press, College Station
Goebel, T., and J. L. Keene (2014) Are Great Basin stemmed points as old as Clovis in the intermountain west? A review of the geochronological evidence. In: Janetski, J., and N. Parezo (eds.) Archaeology for All Times: Papers in Honor of Don D. Fowler, pp. 35-60. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
Goebel, T., Smith, H. L., DiPietro, L., Waters, M. R., Hockett, B., Graf, K. E., Gal, R., Slobodin, S. B., Speakman, R. J., Driese, S. G., Rhode, D. (2013), Serpentine Hot Springs, Alaska: results of excavations and implications for the age and significance of northern fluted points. Journal of Archaeological Science 40:4222-4233.
Goebel, T. (2013) Global expansion 300,000-8000 years ago, Americas. In: Elias, S., and C. Gamble (eds.) Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science, pp. 119-134 Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Dr. Kelly Graf is an Associate Professor in Anthropology, Ray A. Rothrock ’77 Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts, and faculty member of the Center. Her research interests include the dispersal of early modern humans in arctic and arid environments, peopling of Northeast Asia, Beringia, and the Americas, Upper Paleolithic and Paleoindian archaeology, hunter-gatherer ecology and adaptations in extreme environments, human-environment interaction, environmental archaeology, geoarchaeology, and lithic technology. Graf is currently directing excavations at the McDonald Creek site, a multicomponent terminal Pleistocene site located in the Tanana Flats in interior Alaska. She has also directed or co-directed several other excavation projects in Siberia, Alaska, and the Intermountain West that focus on initial dispersals into these regions. To date, the National Science Foundation and Elfrieda Frank Foundation have supported most of her research, including excavations at the Owl Ridge and Dry Creek sites in central Alaska, Bonneville Estates Rockshelter in eastern Nevada, survey work in Alaska, and collections-based research in Siberia. Graf has authored or co-authored several journal articles and book chapters dealing with the peopling of Siberia, Beringia, and the Americas, and has edited two book volumes on late Pleistocene archaeology. C.V. ResearchGate Profile
Center for the Study of the First Americans
Graf, K. E. L. M. DiPietro, K. Krasinski, A. K. Gore, H. L. Smith, B. J. Culleton, D. J. Kennett, D. Rhode (2015) Dry Creek Revisited: New Excavations, Radiocarbon Dates, and Site Formation Inform on the Peopling of the Eastern Beringia. American Antiquity 80(4):1-24.
Raghavan, M., P. Skoglund, K. E. Graf, M. Metspalu, A. Albrechtsen, I. Moltke, S Rasmussen, T. W. Stafford, L. Orlando, E. Metspalu, M. Karmin, K. Tambets, S. Rootsi, R. Magi, P. F. Campos, E. Balanovska, O. Balanovsky, E. Khusnutdinova, S. Litvinov, L. P. Osipova, S. A. Fedorova, M. I. Voevoda, M. DeGiorgio, T. Sicheritz-Ponten, S. Brunak, S. Demishchenko, T. Kivisild, R. Villems, R. Nielsen, M. Jakobsson, E. Willerslev (2014) Upper Palaeolithic Siberian Geonome Reveals Dual Origins for Native Americans. Nature 505(7481):87-91 (doi:10.1038/nature12736, published Jan. 2, 2014, Epub Nov 20, 2013).
Goebel, T., H. L. Smith, L. DiPietro, M. R. Waters, B. Hockett, K. E. Graf, R. Gal, S. B. Slobodin, R. J. Speakman, S. G. Driese, D. Rhode (2013) Serpentine Hot Springs, Alaska: results of excavations and implications for the age and significance of northern fluted points. Journal of Archaeological Science 40:4222-4233.
Graf, K.E., N. Bigelow (2011) Human Response to Climate during the Younger Dryas Chronozone in Central Alaska. Quaternary International 242:434-451.
Lorenzen, E. D., D. Nogués-Bravo, Orlando, L., Weinstock, J., Binladen, J. K. A. Marske, A. Ugan, M. K. Borregaard, M. T. P. Gilbert, R. Nielsen, S. Y. W. Ho, T. Goebel, K. E. Graf, D. Byers, J. T. Stenderup, M. Rassmussen, P. F. Campos, J. A. Leonard, K-P. Koepfli, D. Froese, G. Zazula, T. W. Stafford, K. Aaris-Sørensen, P. Batra, A. M. Haywood, J. S. Singarayer, P. J. Valdes, G. Boeskorov, J. A. Burns, S. P. Davydov, J. Haile, D. L. Jenkins, P. Kosintsev, T. Kuznetsova, X. Lai, L. D. Martin, H. G. McDonald, D. Mol, M. Meldgaard, K. Munch, E. Stephan, M. Sablin, R. S. Sommer, R. Sipko, E. Scott, M. A. Suchard, A. Tikhonov, R. Willerslev, R. K. Waynes, A. Cooper, M. Hofreiter, A. Sher, B. Shapiro, C. Rahbek, E. Willerslev (2011) Species-specific Responses of Late Quaternary Megafauna to Climate and Humans. Nature 479:359-365.
Center Administrative Associate
Christel Cooper is the Administrator for the Center. Christel is a member of the Chickasaw tribe and grew up in College Station, Texas. She graduated from Sam Houston State University with a degree in Mass Communications. Christel has many years of experience in the non-profit field, some of those years spent working for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas
Center Research Associate
Jim Wiederhold earned his MA from Texas A&M University in 2004. His thesis explored the functions of Clovis end scrapers from the Gault Site, Texas through high-power microscopic use-wear analysis. Jim manages the Center’s microscope laboratory, where he has conducted edge-modification studies of artifacts from Debra L. Friedkin, Gault, Ryan-Harley, Page-Ladson, and other sites. He couples his analysis of use-wear with experimental studies including hide working and butchering animal carcasses.
Center for the Study of the First Americans
Editor of the Mammoth Trumpet
Jim and Char Chandler, who together are C&C Wordsmiths, have edited and prepared the Mammoth Trumpet since 1990.
CSFA Advisory Board Members
|Leslie S. Pfeiffer, Chair||Steve Kohntopp||Roy J. Shlemon|
|Robert Engle||Mark H. Mullins||William M. Wheless III|
|Elmer A. Guerri||Greg Moore||Robert Rotstan|
|Bob and Sharon Wilson|
CSFA Advisory Board Emeritus Members
|Marvin Beatty||JoAnn Harris||Sandy Tradlener|
|David Bobb||Robert Hogfoss||Joanne C. Turner|
|Cheryl Bongiovanni||Joyce Pytkowicz||Marshall Payn|
|Gerald M. Fritts||Anne Stanaway|
|Donald B. Gimbel||Larry Tradlener|
The Center is located on the second floor of the Anthropology Building. (Map)
Main Phone: 979-845-4046
Office: Anthropology Building, Room 210
Center for the Study of the First Americans
Department of Anthropology
Texas A&M University
340 Spence Street
College Station, TX 77843-4352