David J. Meltzer is the Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in the Department of Anthropology at SMU, and an Affiliate Professor at the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His research focuses on the origins, antiquity, and adaptations of the very first Americans – the hunter-gatherers who colonized North America at the end of the Ice Age. His publications include a dozen books and nearly 190 articles. He’s been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1998), a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2009), The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (2009), and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2013).
His table talk will be on Archaeology, ancient DNA, and the Ice Age peopling of the Americas, and the sea change that’s come about in just the last decade in our understanding of who the first Americans were, where they came from, when and how they made their way to what was then a truly new world, and how these bygone Siberian hunter-gatherers met the challenges of adapting to a vast, utterly unknown, partly ice-shrouded and ecologically diverse landscape. It’s a sea change that’s directly resulted from a raft of newly-discovered (but old!) archaeological sites, and findings about human population history and past environments that have emerged thanks to revolutionary advances in the extraction of DNA from ancient bones, teeth and even sediments.