Tasty deep-sea scallops like to burrow deep in the ocean floor. Fishermen plow and trawl the sea bottom far off shore, pulling up thousands of scallops at a time in their nets. Sometimes they also find other things.
In 1971 a scallop boat, the Cinmar, was fishing 60 miles east of the Virginia cape, in 240 feet of water when they pulled up part of the jaw from an ancient mastodon — a large extinct elephant from the last ice age. Along with this catch they also found a curious stone spear point that resembled the famous Clovis points from 13,000 years ago.
The area where these artefacts were found was once dry land. During the last ice age the oceans of the world were much lower. Much of their water was locked up in huge glaciers that covered the Northern latitudes. The bones and spear were likely remnants of pre-historic hunting by some of the earliest inhabitants of North America. But there were even more surprises to come.
Carbon dating of the mastodon bone indicated it was 22,760 years old. Researchers also scrutinized the blade. It had not been smoothed by wave action or tumbling. They concluded the blade had not been pushed out to sea but had been buried where the Cinmar found it.
“My guess is the blade was used to butcher the mastodon… I’m almost positive… Its makers probably paddled from Europe and arrived in America thousands of years ahead of the western migration, making them the first Americans.”
Dennis J. Stanford, co-author of Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America’s Clovis Culture and Smithsonian Institution anthropoligist.
Chemical analysis of the spear point showed that it originated from flint in an area that is now France! Analysis of the way it was made showed that it was not a Clovis point at all, but a hand crafted point made by European humans known as the Solutreans.
The first humans entered North America from Western Europe — not Asia
[Above:] The coastline of the continents was very different at the height of the last ice age. It was then that mysterious Stone Age European people known as the Solutreans paddled along an ice cap jutting into the North Atlantic. They lived like Inuits, harvesting seals and seabirds.
Most archaeological evidence of the Solutreans indicates they originated in what is now Spain, Portugal and southern France [A] beginning about 25,000 years ago. No skeletons have been found, so no DNA is available to study.
The Solutreans had a distinctive way of making their stone blades and this same skill and technology has been found in numerous archaeological sites along the East coast of North America [B and C].
Stone tools recovered from two other mid-Atlantic sites — Cactus Hills, Va., 45 miles south of Richmond, and Meadowcroft Rockshelter, in southern Pennsylvania — date to at least 16,000 years ago. Those tools also strongly resemble Solutrean blades found in Europe.
The Solutreans eventually spread across North America, carrying their distinctive blades with them and giving birth to the later Clovis culture, which emerged some 13,000 years ago. Clovis gets its name from Clovis, New Mexico, where the first such blade was discovered.
Old Paradigms Die Slowly
Until very recently the dominant theory of human migration to North America had Asians crossing the Bering Straits [F] to Alaska and coming through a narrow ice free corridor [E] that allowed access to the Central Plains. This was supposed to have happened around 15,000 years ago. A major archaeological site used to support the Asian “first” migration was the Dyuktai culture in Ushki, Siberia; however this site has recently been re-dated to a much younger 10,000 years old. Despite the much older dates of the Solutreans in eastern North America, many anthropologists continue to cling to the Beringia idea.
It is inevitable that these old ideas will give way to the Solutrean hypothesis. I’ll give some of the reasons in this article, including some new discoveries in Nevada [D] and also:
- Evidence of knapping (stone tool making) techniques
- Evidence of DNA markers
- Evidence of ice flow data
- Evidence of cultural data
I think you will see that it is time to rewrite history and give credit to the Solutreans, not only for the Clovis Culture, but for the paleo-Indians of North America.
Evidence of stone tool techniques
Despite the best efforts of archaeologists and other researchers, the Siberian archaeological record has yet to yield compelling evidence to link the first American settlers with Siberia. One of the ways to establish such a link would be to find evidence in Siberia of the Clovis points that are found at most early American sites.
Excavation at the Dyuktai Cave site in north eastern Siberia revealed an assemblage that included stone spear points similar to Clovis points [A], as well as small stone tools known as microblades [D], and the remains of large mammoth and musk-ox. A series of similar sites were later found in the region, and some archaeologists have suggested that it was the people of the Dyuktai culture who crossed the Bering Land Bridge and settled the Americas.
Another difference in Asian v. European blades in that both Solutrean and Clovis are bi-facial, meaning that each side was completely flaked. In Asian blades the flute (i.e. a flaked or thinned zone at the base to accommodate fastening to a shaft) is absent and usually flaked more on one side than the other. Although the flute is dramatic on Clovis points, Solutrean points have a more subtle thinning at the base.
Although both the Dyuktai and Clovis sites exhibit evidence of big-game hunting, there are significant differences between them. For example, the Dyuktai points do not display the characteristic Clovis “flute” [B] . In addition, the microblade tools (i.e. several sharp pieces of stone were placed in grooved bone) which are common at the Dyuktai sites are not found at early archaeological sites in the Americas. Also, as we stated earlier, the Dyuktai site is much younger than Clovis.
Like cutting diamonds
Stone tools may seem primitive in today’s world but, before the invention of metallurgy and electricity, these artifacts were the hi-tech of their time. Using these sharp instruments for hunting and cutting was vital to human survival. The designs had to evolve to be reliable and highly efficient. Once a particular design or production technique was perfected it was duplicated by the artisans and tool makers of that particular culture.
Archaeologists and anthropologists have spent years examining the stone knives and spear points of various ancient cultures. They have looked at every detail — every step — involved in shaping a rough stone to a streamlined spear point. Many, like Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley , have even attempted to duplicate the production of stone points from sites around the globe.
Finding the right type of stone is critical. Flint, quartz and jasper were prized for their strength and flaking abilities. Various techniques were used to remove flakes and shape the stones. Sometimes the stone was struck with another stone and other times the technique called for a softer implement such as an antler bone and just the right pressure to carefully crack and remove flakes from the surface or edge of a stone point.
“‘Clovis’ is the name given to the distinctive tools made by people starting around 13,000 years ago. The Clovis people invented the ‘Clovis point’, a spear-shaped weapon made of stone that is found in Texas and the rest of the United States and northern Mexico. These weapons were used to hunt animals, including mammoths and mastodons, from 13,000 to 12,700 years ago.
–Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans in the Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M [source]
By understanding the various techniques used by different cultures they determined that the Clovis and older Solutreans had developed something special — called “over flaking” — where a large flake was removed laterally across the point instead of many smaller flakes. This was a dangerous technique if not done with a high degree of skill. One wrong move, or too much pressure, and the knife or spear point would be ruined.
It is this skill that they saw exhibited by the Solutreans, and later the Clovis culture, that convinced them of an ancestral link. No such technique appears in stone points from Siberia.
Once you make the connection between Clovis artifacts and the Solutreans, the distribution of Clovis in the East makes perfect sense. The origin of earliest inhabitants of North america did not come from the Northwest — they came from Europe by way of the North Atlantic ice sheet and moved West across the continent.
The map [above] also suggests that they preferred to live near rivers, perhaps the preferential habitation of game. The map also suggests that the Clovis migration took them North through the ice-free corridor, although only a few artifacts have been found there.
Some die-hard archaeologists have denied the eastern origins of Clovis, claiming that they originated in the West, migrated South to Central America where they crossed over to the East coast and moved North. This complicated migration is used to explain the multitude of Clovis artifacts found in the East. Their evidence for this is a recent find of Clovis points in Alaska. But critics point out that the dates of these points are about 12,000 years ago — well after the arrival of Clovis in the western continent. [source]
It is important to remember that the proponents of the Clovis/Solutrean hypothesis do not deny that a prior substantial migration to the Americas from Asia took place. It is possible that the continent was inhabited by humans tens of thousands of years before either group was in North America. What we are discussing here is the migration of a culture with historic traits such as tool making, hunting patterns and presumably a common language and social organization. We can only discover this kind of unique population if consistent evidence of these cultural traits is found.
Most certainly, migrations from Asia did eventually overcome those of the Solutreans and subsequent Clovis culture. Stone tool development changed as mastodons were replaced by smaller game. Rival tribes may have annihilated each other, as we have seen such violence in the Kennewick Man’s remains. [source]
Intentionally buried time capsules
Most of the finds involving caches of Clovis artifacts were intentionally buried with the blades carefully stacked together and placed in a vertical alignment to avoid being crushed. The reason for these burials is unclear but may have been for safe keeping and re-use by hunters when their supply of blades or the stones to make them became scarce.
Also, archaeologists have found giant Clovis blades that are too big for hunting and appear more ornamental than utilitarian. Were these enlarged teaching tools to help future artisans? Or perhaps they had some religious or totem significance? We just do not know.
Besides stone blades, hooks and sewing needles made from bone have been found at some sites. It is thought that the Solutreans and later Clovis cultures must have been adept at making warm and durable clothing from animal skins to survive the cold climates.
This introduces another interesting hypothesis. The Inuit in alaska make sea worthy boats from animal skins. It is certainly possible that the Solutreans, having mastered the sewing of animal skins, could have done the same thousands of years earlier.
The more that I see from this site, the more I’m digging it – original: http://www.viewzone.com/solutrean.html