July 24, 2008

Criticism of the Solutrean hypothesis

Criticism of the Solutrean hypothesis shows it's nothing more than clever speculation at this point:

Proof of Advanced Civilization 500,000 Years Ago?Saying that Solutrean points are "similar" to Clovis points is a bit of a stretch. The Anthropologist that originally made this connection himself only asserted the possibility that the Clovis point might be an evolution of the Solutrean. No Solutrean points have ever been found in the Americas to this date. For this sort of hypothesis, at least a few must be found or the hypothesis will die of old age--except on message boards like this one!My thoughts on History Channel’s “Journey to 10,000 BC”The problem with Stanford’s hypothesis is that there’s no evidence of boats in the America’s from that time period, nor is there a genetic European signature in Native American populations. Stanford says that the reason why boats haven’t been found is that sea levels have risen since then and obliterated any trace of boats… convenient. Anyways, his idea is a bit out there, and not substantiated much. It is really possible that the reason why Clovis typology is unique is that arose in the Americas independently.Challenges to the Solutrean hypothesisArthur J. Jelinek, an anthropologist who noted similarities between Solutrean and Clovis styles in a 1971 study, noted that the great geographical and temporal separation of the two cultures made a direct connection unlikely. He also noted that crossing the Atlantic with the technology of the time would have been difficult if not impossible, an observation repeated by Lawrence G. Strauss. Others have pointed to a lack of evidence of Solutrean seafaring. Proponents point out that evidence of Solutrean-era seafaring may have been obliterated or buried underwater, as much of the coastlines of western Europe and eastern North America that existed during the Last Glacial Maximum are now submerged. However, Strauss excavated along the Cantabrian coast, which was not submerged at the time, finding seashells and estuarine fish at the sites, but no evidence of exploiting deep sea resources. In addition, the dates of the proposed transitional sites and the Solutrean period in Europe only overlap at the extremes.

Other challenges to the hypothesis include an apparent lack of Solutrean-style artwork (like that found at Altamira in Spain and Lascaux in France) among the Clovis people. In response, proponents point out that this style of art disappears in Europe by the time of Clovis, and that the Solutreans introduced a tool-making innovation and not necessarily cultural or artistic practices.
Comment:  As valid as these criticisms may be, they miss the bigger picture. Consider the following:

1) Even if Solutrean points are identical to Clovis points, that proves only that there was contact between the two groups. Perhaps a boatload of Solutreans came to America and taught the people already there how to make the points. If these points were truly innovative, they could've spread across the continent quickly.

Again, all this would've required was initial contact between a handful of Solutrean and Clovis people. To prove that the Solutreans colonized the "New World" in force, you'd need evidence of a large-scale migration: bones, DNA, artifacts, campsites, etc.

2) Scientists increasingly believe that the Clovis people weren't the first Native people to arrive here. As Charles Petit wrote in 1998:The peopling of Europe and Asia was an expansion featuring multiple migrations and an ebb and flow of cultures that, it now appears, may have washed into the Americas in a series of waves starting well before Clovis times, perhaps as early as 30,000 years ago.Scientists need to get off this belief that proving something about the Clovis people proves something about all Native Americans. The Clovis people probably were latecomers to the continent. Even if they were all Caucasians from Europe, it would tell us nothing about the Native people who came before them. (You know, the Native people whose DNA scientists have traced to east Asia.)

Ironically, the Petit article also quotes Dennis Stanford, who conceived the Solutrean hypothesis:"The bottom line is that people could have reached here a long, long time ago," says Dennis Stanford, chairman of the anthropology department at the Smithsonian Institution. Stanford is among a growing number of scientists advancing the still heretical belief that the first North Americans did not walk over in one main migration but came much earlier, and by boat.Good thinking, Stanford, unless you claim the boats came from Europe rather than Asia. Then you need to explain how Stone Age people managed to voyage 1,770 miles (Sierra Leone-Brazil) or 3,471 miles (London-New York) rather than 53 miles (Bering Strait).

For more on the subject, see Kennewick Man, Captain Picard, and Political Correctness.

5 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
And of course, the 'Solutrean' theorist(s) conveniently ignore the already observed AND proven data of the Native 'Red Paint People,' who have been shown to have invaded Europe at approximately the same time. If those newer theories are so cogent, where are the NOVA programs about the 'Solutreans?'
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

I knew you'd mention the Red Paint People sooner or later. ;-)

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Yes, indeed, as any earlier mentions are lost and buried deep in NEWSPAPER ROCK's archive obscurity...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Frank Stipe said...

Negative arn't we. Since you seem so easy to be critical of other theories, what is yours, that will explain all of the data gathered to present?

Divorce Talk said...

What a bunch of unsupported hogwash.