The Younger Dryas and Late Pleistocene peoples of the Great Lakes region

Christopher J. Ellis, Dillon H. Carr, Thomas J. Loebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Late Pleistocene archaeological record of the Great Lakes drainage area shows that there were several, albeit spatially variable, changes in that record in a time period corresponding to the Younger Dryas (YD) climatic reversal at ca. 10,800-10,000 14C BP. Notable here are declines in some areas in the mobility of Paleoindian groups as measured by distance to the main lithic source employed, declines in the overall frequency of sites/findpots, particularly in the western Great Lakes where some northern areas seem to have been largely abandoned, and an increasing association of occupation locales with glacial lake shores or extensive wetlands left by recently drained glacial lakes. Some of the changes, as in range mobility, most likely relate to the colonization of new areas rather than directly to the YD. Specifically, the earliest groups were able to target rich, but widely dispersed, resource locales due to an absence of competing groups. However, the declines in locale frequencies and shifting distributions of those locales may be due to YD influence, notably to an eventual drying out of the area that resulted in less productive environments overall and made the lake shores and wetland areas more attractive environmental niches for human occupation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-545
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 15 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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