August 31, 2009

Migration theories in Time Team America

As noted in Clovis Site in Time Team America, the show presentedthree of the four prevailing theories about how the peopling of North America may have occurred (described by Time Team archaeologist Adrien Hannus).K. Krist Hurst continued:I'd have preferred that they spend more time on the more-likely theory of Pacific coastal migration and less time on the less-likely Solutrean connection; but that's just me.Either Hurst or I didn't pay enough attention to this part of the show. I thought the show presented only two theories: the conventional Bering Strait land-bridge theory and the "controversial" Solutrean hypothesis. I don't think it said anything about the alternative coastal migration theory or the related kelp highway theory. Nor did it say anything about the possibility of other ocean crossings.

Stating the Solutrean hypothesis--that the first Americans came from Europe--as one of two possibilities gives it more credit than it deserves. It adds to all the Kennewick Man talk that Caucasians may have been here first. I.e. that Indians don't deserve their tribal sovereignty or land rights.

Here are some problems with this theory:

The Solutrean-Clovis Connection

A Theory for the Peopling of America

By K. Kris Hirst
The most prominent opponent of the Solutrean connection is Lawrence Guy Straus. Straus points out that the LGM forced people out of western Europe into southern France and the Iberian peninsula by about 25,000 radiocarbon years ago. There were no people at all living north of the Loire Valley of France during the Last Glacial Maximum, and no people in the southern part of England until after about 12,500 BP. The similarities between Clovis and Solutrean cultural assemblages are far outweighed by the differences. Clovis hunters were not users of marine resources, fish or mammal. Finally, the Solutrean hunter-gatherers used land-based hunting supplemented by littoral and riverine but not oceanic resources.

Most essentially, the Solutreans of the Iberian peninsula lived 5,000 radiocarbon years earlier and 5,000 kilometers directly across the Atlantic from the Clovis hunter-gatherers.
Naturally, I came up with a few more criticisms of this theory. For instance, if there's no evidence that either side had boats, who's to say the Paleo-Indians didn't visit the Europeans rather than vice versa?

For more on the subject, see Dissing My Solutrean Postings and Criticism of the Solutrean Hypothesis.

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