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Charles Mann




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To Deloria’s way of thinking, not only overkill but the entire Clovis-first theory is a theoretical Rube Goldberg device. “There’s this perfect moment when the ice-free corridor magically appears just before the land bridge is covered by water,” he said. “And the paleo-Indians, who are doing fine in Siberia, suddenly decide to sprint over to Alaska. And then they sprint through the corridor, which just in time for them has been replenished with game. And they keep sprinting so fast that they overrun the hemisphere even faster than the Europeans did—and this even though they didn’t have horses, because they were so busy killing them all.” He laughed. “And these are the same people who say traditional origin tales are improbable!”
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“They build their monuments as if their intent was never to finish them,” the Spanish academic Polo de Ondegardo marveled in 1571. Exactly right, Isbell and Vranich said. Completion was not the object. The goal was a constant buzz of purposeful activity.
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In our day the Soviet Union disintegrated after drought caused a series of bad harvests in the 1970s and 1980s, but nobody argues that climate ended Communist rule. Similarly, one should grant the Maya the dignity of assigning them responsibility for their failures as well as their successes.
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