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Ronald Mason's hypothesis from the 1960s that the southeastern United States possesses greater Paleoindian projectile-point diversity than other regions is regularly cited, and often assumed to be true, but in fact has never been quantitatively tested. Even if valid, however, the evolutionary meaning of this diversity is contested. Point diversity is often linked to Clovis "origins," but point diversity could also arise from group fissioning and drift, admixture, adaptation, or multiple founding events, among other possibilities. Before archaeologists can even begin to discuss these scenarios, it is paramount to ensure that what we think we know is representative of reality. To this end, we tested Mason's hypothesis for the first time, using a sample of 1,056 Paleoindian points from eastern North America ami employing paradigmatic classification and rigorous statistical tools used in the quantification of ecological biodiversity. Our first set of analyses, which compared the Southeast to the Northeast, showed that the Southeast did indeed possess significantly greater point-class richness. Although this result was consistent with Mason's hypothesis, our second set of analyses, which compared the Upper Southeast to the Lower Southeast and the Northeast showed that in terms of point-class richness the Upper Southeast > Lower Southeast > Northeast. Given current chronometric evidence, we suggest that this latter result is consistent with the suggestion that the area of the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee River valleys, as well as the mid-Atlantic coastal plain, were possible initial and secondary "staging areas "for colonizing Paleoindian foragers moving from western to eastern North America.

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American Antiquity






© 2016 Cambridge University Press. Original published version available at

Eren M.I., Chao A., Chiu C.-H., Colwell R.K., Buchanan B., Boulanger M.T., Darwent J., O'Brien M.J.. 2016. Statistical analysis of paradigmatic class richness supports greater paleoindian projectile-point diversity in the Southeast. Cambridge University Press.

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