Circling the Wagons

2 May 2015
Archaeology

At www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-04/uom-ato042715.php … a classic case of circling the wagons and shutting down an upstart theory. This time, it is the idea that Solutrean Points (from Iberia) are similar to Clovis Points (common in SE N America) and the idea that the Americas might have been colonised by humans not just from across the Bering Straits but also people from Ice Age Europe may also have reached the Americas. The problem is that people from Siberia are assumed, in the mainstream straitjacket, to have colonised America after the Ice Age. The Solutrean theory claims humans may have got there earlier – within the Late Glacial Maximum. There is evidence that humans from Siberia reached America in the Ice Age too – but this idea is resisted fiercely. If Siberia was not under an ice sheet and the Arctic Ocean was not a forbidding place to paddle a boat, the likelihood is that people from northern Siberia simply sailed across the Arctic Ocean (which incidentally was somewhat narrower at the time, an extensive continental shelf system was above sea level) and reached the top of Canada and Alaska. Why not?

It is the Ice Age itself that creates the stumbling block – the idea the northern hemisphere was under a huge ice sheet. This created the myth that humans could not have colonised America until that ice sheet had melted – but did a huge ice sheet really exist, or is this a uniformitarian fabrication?

If the poles had moved and the ice sheet covered the land mass trapped within the polar circle (during the LGM) it is clear that humans could have been venturing across Siberia – into Canada and Alaska. Once you get it into your head that an ice sheet didn't necessarily cover the whole of North America human migration into the Americas takes on an entirely different game ball. However, mainstream has not reached that state of mind, as yet – hence the link to the new article that is basically all about resisting new ideas on that subject. As such, they have homed in on one find from the early 1970s, dredged up by a scallop trawler off the coast of Virginia. It hit a snag and pulled up an ancient stone blade along with pieces of a mastodon skeleton. An elaborate theory evolved where it was suggested Ice Age Palaeolithic people in Iberia had a culture, somewhat akin to modern Inuit, whereby they lived on sea mammals and fish, and followed the ice floes. Some of them ended up in eastern N America (possibly even the top of South America) and they introduced the Clovis Point (which is indeed extremely similar to the Solutrean Points). Obviously, this contravened, pretty well seriously, the idea humans did not arrive until after the Ice Age (as the Mastodon was an Ice Age animal). The point of the new paper is to make sure that link is erased – and this is the whole point of the exercise as they have cast aspersions on the actual event itself (as they found no ship records of the discovery, just word of mouth only). Obviously, what oiks might say is less important than what your average academic might say (in the opinion of the academics). Therefore it is easy to just dismiss the evidence of the trawler crew – as they were oiks, and prone to getting facts mixed up with story telling (and the usual ad hominem tactic of attacking the person and in this case, the blatant similarity between Solutrean and Clovis points). This apparently is all they have to dismiss the upstart theory – and the claim is made they have comprehensively debunked it.

The same story, almost verbatim, is at http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/alternate-theory-of… … where it says the authors have  'definitely disproved the ice bridge theory' – but have they. They have just discounted some of the evidence and then state the dating they used is reliable – as if it could be. The end of the Ice Age involves some pretty big C14 plateaus – and that means accuracy is not exact (it is only indicative).

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