Skip to comments.Iberia, Not Siberia
Posted on 12/21/2003 9:48:22 AM PST by blam
IBERIA, NOT SIBERIA?
A Look at the Evidence Supporting a Late Pleistocene Migration to the New World from Europe
Michael A. Arbuthnot
ANT 5152 Paleoindian Archaeology
Dr. Michael Faught
December 6th, 2000
Perhaps the most provocative question facing North American paleo-archaeologists is the origin of the Clovis complex. Traditional models have placed Clovis origins in Asia, though one controversial theory contends that Clovis progenitors may have migrated from Iberia (Spain, France, and Portugal). This theory suggests that the descendants of an Upper Pleistocene culture known as Solutrean were the first unquestionable inhabitants of the New World. The recent revitalization of a Solutrean-Clovis hypothesis has prompted negative and speculative responses from some researchers in the archaeological community. However, a few distinguished scientists (Stanford, Bradley, and Collins) have publicly expressed their support for a Solutrean-Clovis connection, though little has been published on the subject. The most adamant rejection of the Solutrean-Clovis connection is offered by Lawrence Straus. In recent years the Gault site in Texas has produced materials strengthening the Solutrean-Clovis connection in the minds of some researchers. These researchers point to the uncanny similarities in tool kits and manufacturing techniques between the Solutrean and Clovis complexes. This argument, along with collaborative skeletal, genetic, and distributional data, make the Solutrean-Clovis connection a tantalizing possibility. Clovis appears in the archaeological record at about 11,500 rcybp (Fiedel 2000), and is recognized as the earliest undisputable technocomplex in the New World. The Clovis lancelot represents the first of what would become a ubiquitous presence of fluted point technology in the New World. Other tools in the Clovis assemblage are made on large flakes and include side scrapers, end scrapers, concave scrapers, unifacial knives, gravers, some burins, and various combinations of these (Haynes 1980). True-blades and prismatic cores have also been identified in Clovis-age assemblages (Collins 1992). The distinctive nature of Clovis can be found in the technique of flaked-stone weapon and tool production rather than artifact typology. According to Ken Tankersley (1999), the means by which stone was flaked is more important than the style of an artifact. While Frison and Bradley believe this pattern was produced by a unique set of steps that guaranteed a minimal loss of high-quality stone and the production of a very effective weapon. In Clovis Revisited (1999), Boldurian and Cotter illustrate ten Clovis artifacts in common with Upper Paleolithic sites in eastern Europe and Asia. These include an ivory semifabricate (cut and chopped mammoth tusk), ivory billet (hammer), large blades and blade cores, end scrappers, burins, a shaft wrench, split-bone points, flaked bone, unifacial flake tools, and red ocher. These similarities suggest an Old World origin for Clovis technology.
The traditional model for the peopling of the New World theorizes that Clovis antecedents originated in Siberia or Asia. Though some researchers believe Clovis derived from the specialized mammoth hunters of the Russian Steppes of Eurasia. In either case, Clovis predecessors migrated across Beringia (the Bering Land Bridge) into Alaska and the New World. From here they negotiated their way through the Ice Free Corridor, between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets, into the present-day United States. It is thought that somewhere in the Southeastern or Southwestern United States (perhaps on the Llano Estacado of New Mexico), the New World immigrants invented the stylistic fluting that characterizes Clovis points and all their subsequent forms (since fluting is unique to New World points). Within only a few thousand years, fluted technology spread the length of North and South America, as did a clear human occupation.
Following the traditional model, the most logical place to look for the Clovis precursor is Asia, and for 70 years archaeologists have explored this region producing mixed results. Scientists have sought to identify a Clovis antecedent through an Old World assemblage correlation. In other words, if an Old World tool assemblage greatly resembles Clovis in both manufacturing technique, type and style of tool made, as well as fits the appropriate temporal and spatial criteria, it is a good candidate for the Clovis progenitor. In 1935, Nels Nelson found evidence to indicate that microblade technology was used during paleolithic times in both Alaska and Siberia, on each side of the Bering Straight. His find proved unequivocally that populations did cross Beringia into the New World in prehistoric times (Smith 1974). However, microblade technology is not found in the Clovis complex, and although Nelson demonstrated a migration, he did not demonstrate it was related to the Clovis culture.
Some archaeologists suggest a good potential Clovis progenitor is found in the Russian Steppes of Eurasia. The Kostenki culture, part of the Eastern Gravettian blade industry, were specialized mammoth hunters in Central and Eastern Europe who existed from 28,000 to about 10,000 rcybp (Soffer 1993). The oldest Kostenki finds are in west Eurasia, but seem to migrate east over time. This gradual eastward movement would be consistent with a migration eventually leading to northeast Asia (Faught, lecture, 2000). The creation of fertility statues, elaborate artwork, and mammoth huts are prevalent in Kostenki culture, but are not found in the New World, making the acceptance of Kostenki as the Clovis progenitor somewhat problematic (Haynes 1982).
The Kostenki-Borshevo region of the Don Valley in the Russian Steppes has mammoth grave sites that bear some resemblance to Clovis. Some of these resemblances include bifacial projectile points, end scrapers, side scrapers, borers and a blades associated with faunal remains, including Mammoth. Hearths at the Don sites are similar to Murray Springs, Arizona, and burnt bone is present. These sites range in age between 20,000 and 15,000 rcybp (Haynes 1982). In Eastern Europe, the sites of Pavlov and Dolni Vestonice (26,000-24,000 rcybp) also exhibit Clovis-like curiosities. Mammoth was used for everything from food to housing. Bone, ivory, and stone were all used in tool manufacture, but only stone was used in making blades, flakes and bifacial tools. Red ocher was used in burials and beveled bone points, shaft straighteners, and cylindrical ivory pieces found here are similar to what is seen in Clovis assemblages (Haynes 1982).
In Siberia, no direct cultural ties can be made to Clovis, but there have been finds worth noting. In a site called Tomsk on the upper Ob River, end scrapers, flakes, blades, and prismatic cores have all been found. Burnt mammoth remains were also present, and no microblades were found. Further east in the middle Yenisei region are several mammoth bone cemeteries. Afontova Gora II and Kokorevo II are among the most important. At Afontova Gora II were bifaces, side scrapers, end scrapers, flaked points, notches, backed blades, burins, borers, retouched flakes, and blades. Bone points, polishers, awls, needles, ivory spheres, and antler shafts were also found. Kokorevo II had mammoth remains, with borers, end scrappers, flake points, wedge-shaped cores, plano-convex biface scrappers, and other bone tools. Both sites had grooved bone points characteristic of microblade cultures, though no microblades were found. Mal'ta and Buret I on the upper Angara River contained evidence of structures, cache pits, a grave with red ocher and ivory, as well as flaked tools and blades. Beveled bone projectile points were found here, along with art objects. No microblades, edge-shaped cores nor slotted bone points were found at either site. Since Mal'ta, Buret I, and Tomsk are lacking both microblades and wedge-shaped cores, it makes them a possible pre-Clovis candidate. Interestingly, the use of red ocher is found at Mal'ta and at the Clovis grave site of Anzick, Montana (Haynes 1982).
Dyuktai Cave (14-13,000 rcybp) on the Aldan River, Siberia, is interesting because of the discovery of bifacial projectile points, oval and triangular knives, discoidal, Levallois, wedge-shaped cores, multifaceted burins, large side scrapers, small end scrappers on blades, and retouched flakes. These artifacts are associated with large animals, including mammoth. Haynes (1982) sees no obvious connection between Dyuktai and Clovis as a result of the small blades and wedge-shaped cores. However, temporally and spatially this culture would be an appropriate precursor to Clovis -- they existed in Siberia from 30,000 to 11,000 rcybp (Soffer 1993). The Berelekh site (12,200 rcybp) at Yakuria, Siberia, is also worth mentioning. This mammoth bone cemetery exhibits microblade technology, bifacial flaking, ivory foreshafts, and red ocher. From this site we know that the Dyuktai culture, with their microblade emphasis, were specialized mammoth hunters (Goebel and Slobodin 1999).
Two other sites in Northeastern Siberia are of importance A camp site near Ushki Lake, Kamchatka, has good stratigraphy, apparent dwellings, microblades and stemmed-points. Just across the channel from the Kamchatka peninsula is the Uptar site. In Uptar was found what some researchers consider a fluted point, though this designation is questionable. Also at Uptar were artifacts consistent with the Dyuktai complex (Faught, lecture, 2000).
Haynes (1982) argues that two culture groups were in Siberia during the terminal Pleistocene. One was the flaked tool industry with its large blades (but the presence of slotted bone also suggests some use of microblades). The other tradition in Siberia at the time had wedge-shaped cores and microblades. Bifaces appear in both. Mal'ta however, has beveled base bone points, but stands alone in the Old World in that regard. Blades, prismatic cores, mammoth bones, and hearths from a variety of sites are also found in common with Clovis. Haynes argues that 20,000 ybp, Late Paleolithic hunters moved into Siberia from Eurasia, possibly Kostenki-derived, and encountered the Dyuktai culture who had come from Southern Asia.
It is clear that the Dyuktai culture migrated to Alaska. Their tool assemblage, composed of wedge-shaped cores, microblades, and bifaces appear in the technocomplexes known as Denali, Akmak, and Gallagher. The similarities between the Alaskan and Siberian tool kits are so great, some have suggested they part of the same assemblage (Haynes 1982). This tradition appears as early as 10,600 rcybp (perhaps 11,600 at Swan Point) in the New World (Hamilton & Goebel 1999). The "core-and-blade"tradition, as it has referred, appears at sites like Swan Point and Healy Lakes (charcoal association dated at 11,800-11,000 rcybp), Campus in the Tanana Valley, Panguingue Creek, Tangle Lakes, and Gallagher in Northern Alaska (Goebel and Slobodin 1999). All of these sites contain characteristics that seem to point toward Dyuktai origins. They are all broadly referred to as "Denali." Curiously, they all reside south of the Brooks (mountain) Range which runs through central Alaska. Most researchers contend that these early Alaskan lithic traditions do not resemble the Clovis culture, but rather represent a possible precursor to the Stemmed-Point Tradition. Over time, the Denali tool industry appears to evolve into the technocomplexes known as Agate Basin, Scott's bluff, and the Cody complex, which are found in Canada and North America (Faught, lecture, 2000).
The other technocomplex existing contemporaneously with the Denali in Alaska is known as Nenana. The Nenana complex is represented by tool industries found at Dry Creek at Onion Portage, Walker Road, Moose Creek, Mesa and Owl Ridge. These sites have consistently dated between 11,300 and 11,000 rcybp. This complex contains retouched flakes and blades, bifacial implements, end and side scrappers. Additionally, Nenana points are small triangular or teardrop-shaped projectiles. Microblades are absent from the Nenana assemblage. Although no fluted points are found among these sites, some researchers suggest the Nenana complex is a regional precursor and that flutes developed slightly later in New World complexes. That said, fluted points have been found Alaska at Girls Hill (4,440 rcybp), Putu (stemmed and fluted points at 5,700 rcybp), Bonanza Creek (700-1,800 rcybp), Batza Tena (1,800-21,600 rcybp), and North Fork on the Koyukuk River (12,300 rcybp) (Goebel and Slobodin 1999). All of these sites are located in the foothills or north of the Brooks Range. These sites are too late in age to represent a pre-Blackwater Draw (or pre-Clovis) occupation, with the exception of North Fork, where one stratigraphically equivocal fluted-point was found. Most of the Alaskan fluted-points (some are multi-fluted) appear about 8,400 rcybp (Faught, lecture, 2000).
It seems apparent that two distinct cultural traditions existed in Beringia during the Late Pleistocene--the Denali and Nenana. The Denali tradition seems to have unequivocally derived from the Dyuktai complex of Northeast Asia. This complex then most likely evolved into the Stemmed-Point Tradition (and its varieties) and migrated South along the western seaboard. Linguists have associated this tradition with the Nadene language family. The Nenana tradition is a different situation altogether. While it remains unclear where the Nenana complex originally appeared, some have suggested a tie to the Kostenki group of the Russian Steppes. Fluted-points are strangely absent in early Beringia assembles, but do appear later in the foothills, and north of the Brooks Range--the mountains themselves seeming to create a cultural boundary from other contemporaneous traditions (Faught, lecture, 2000). To date, the earliest fluted-points still appear in the American Southeast and Southwest. This fact seems to suggest a northern migration of the fluted point tradition, or a northern diffusion of flute technology, during the early Holocene. Clovis sites in New Mexico are still the oldest unequivocal sites in the New World, and hence, the origin of flute technology remains elusive. Why does the Nenana tradition in Alaska, similar to Clovis in many ways, lack characteristic fluting and other telltale indicators of the Clovis tradition? Perhaps fluting was a New World adaptation--an event of technological punctuated-equilibrium may have modified the Nenana tradition. Or perhaps Nenana is a tradition separate from Clovis altogether.
Several influential archaeologists have recently promoted the Iberian Peninsula as an alternative place of origin for the Clovis complex. Iberia as the homeland of the Clovis progenitor is not an entirely new hypothesis. Emerson Greenman proposed such a connection in 1960, as did Frank Hibbin in 1946. Although few modern scientists are public about their position on the controversial topic, those that are include: Dennis Stanford, Michael Collins, Bruce Bradley, and Tony Baker. Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institute believes none of the culture traditions of the Alaskan Pleistocene are Clovis precursors, but separate and distinct complexes in themselves. Instead, Clovis (and its distinct characteristics) is a New World invention who's progenitor can be found among the Solutrean complex of Upper Pleistocene Europe (Stanford, interview, 1997). Stanford argues that among other things, more-generalized Paleoindian physical remains suggests an origin for Clovis-age people beyond Asia. He cites the remains of Kennewick Man of Washington, Spirit Cave Man of Nevada, and a mandible form Southwest Alaska that indicate the presence of a pre-northern Asian population in the New World. According to Stanford, a comparison of DNA from hair samples between Solutrean and Clovis-age remains should produce interesting results. Stanford says, "From looking at the artifactual evidence we now have from North America and from Northeast Asia, as well as the physical remains, it's very clear to me, at least, that we are looking at multiple migrations through a very long time period - of many different peoples of many different ethnic origins, if you will, that came in at different times" (Stanford, interview, 1997).
Stanford suggests that Clovis tool manufacturing techniques are indicative of Solutrean origins. Additionally, he argues that bifaces and artifact caches associated with red ocher are present in both the Solutrean and Clovis kit, though the significance of red ocher is still not understood.
"If we look at Clovis technology, and the Clovis technology of North America is relatively unique in the world, it's a bifacial technology... Most of the classic Upper Paleolithic cultures of Eurasia are unifacial. There are some bifacial manufacturing technologies in that part of the world and one of them is the Solutrean...This technology is very, very close to the Clovis technology" (Stanford, interview, 1997). "There is very little in Clovis" in fact, nothing "that is not found in Solutrean...Their blades are virtually indistinguishable" (Verrengia 1999).
Stanford suggests that Clovis were likely "adapted to a maritime economy and...very familiar with watercraft" (Stanford, interview, 1997). Some researchers suggest a foot-migration over the pack-ice of the North Atlantic as the likely Solutrean entry route, though Stanford believes that the possibility of a seafaring migration must be considered. He points, particularly, to the distributions of Clovis sites, which appear earliest in the Southeastern United States (Faught & Anderson, 1998). The southernly-dominated (in the United States) fluted point distributions might suggest an transatlantic migration from Europe during the Upper Pleistocene. Stanford calculated that with a strong current and favorable weather, the trip might have taken as little as three weeks (Verrengia 1999). To further support his contention, Stanford cites the presence of humans on Australia 40,000 ybp as evidence of ancient maritime adaptation.
The topic of early maritime adaptation, Stanford says, has been ignored by academia, but should be a focus of future research. He states plainly, "These people (Clovis) had water craft. If you look at the distribution of Clovis sites in the East, they seem to be associated with the large rivers and you can follow them up and down these rivers and, I think it's a matter of time before we find a site where there are boats preserved. These people are using the rivers as ways to get around, ways to transport flint"(Stanford, interview, 1997). Stanford believes that flint procured from remote locations is a testimony to Clovis mobility. This was done, he reasons, to obtain chert of a certain color for ritualistic and non-utilatarian reasons--something that would not be done without adequate and efficient means of travel. Chert movement was particularly done on the East Coast, where great amounts of rock were moved up and down the river valleys. Stanford argues that such movement was probably accomplished by means of riverine watercraft, as well as by foot. Ultimately, Stanford suggest that watercraft likely played a role in artifact distribution in New World during the Pleistocene, as well as in New World migrations (Stanford, interview, 1997). Tony Baker and Dr. Bruce Bradley are also proponents of the Solutrean-Clovis connection. Baker is a long-time avocational archaeologist with a Master's Degree from University of Colorado in anthropology, while Bradley is a lithic specialist and contract archeologist who received his Ph.D. from Cambridge. Baker and Bradley collectively authored an online article (http://www.ele.net/art_folsom/preclvis.htm) which offers a convincing line of reasoning for their pro-Solutrean-Clovis beliefs, each offering slightly different opinions on the subject.
Baker initially emphasizes the importance of defining a "blade." A blade is broadly defined as a flake that is twice as long as it is wide. This is problematic, however, because there are two different ways blades are produced--one with the knapper's intent and one without. In this paper, "true-blade" will be used to describe a blade produced from a prepared core (with intent by a true-blade technology), while "blade" will describe flakes that fit the general definition of blade (not necessarily from a true-blade technology). The differences between the two types of blades can be recognized by examining an entire assemblage. An assemblage produced by a true-blade technology will be composed of mostly true-blades (maybe 70%) or tools derived from true-blades, as well as true-blade cores. An assemblage based on flake technology will have few or no blades, and an absence of true-blade cores. Therefore, the appearance of a flake that is twice as long as it is wide does not necessarily indicate the presence of a true-blade technology (Baker & Bradley 1997). According to Tankersley (1999), "Clovis blades are fascinating because of both their widespread geographical distribution and their remarkable similarity to Old World, Upper Paleolithic, Aurignacian technology (about 23,000 to 38,000 years ago)."
Bakers points out that the Upper Paleolithic in Europe and Asia was a true-blade technology. The invention of prepared true-blades and cores separate the Middle and Upper Paleolithic tool industries. Prior to this transition, Europe was a flake-based technology. At the time Clovis first appears in the New World, Old World complexes were Late Upper Paleolithic and employed a true-blade technology. Scrappers, burins, and other tools were made from true-blades, while points were composed of antler with true-blade insets. Although some blades have been found in Clovis, these finds have not been adequate to deem Clovis a true-blade tradition. According to Baker, the closest Old World assemblage to Clovis is the flake technology utilized in the Middle Paleolithic (pre-30,000 ybp) of Iberia. Therefore, since no antecedents to Clovis existed in the Old World during the Late Pleistocene, Baker suggest one of two possibilities. Either Clovis developed from an earlier culture tradition present in the New World that had separated from an Old World Middle Paleolithic tradition, or Clovis sprang from an Upper Paleolithic tradition and abandoned true-blade technology altogether. Of the two models, Baker favors the pre-Clovis version, though he admits the evidence for a pre-Clovis presence in the New World is lacking. It is worth noting that both models insist Clovis is a New World invention (Baker & Bradley 1997).
However, Baker also attempts to establish a connection between the Old World, Upper Paleolithic manufacturing techniques and Clovis. He argues that soft hammer percussion flaking, as well as the distinctive "over-shooting" technique was adopted by Clovis from an Upper Paleolithic Solutrean technocomplex.
"This link is apparent in the early stages of Clovis point manufacture which were accomplished by removing large, flat percussion flakes from a biface. These flakes left scars that extended past the middle of the face of the biface and created a platelike biface which is different than a biface with a medial ridge. Occasionally, these flakes would travel all the way across the biface and remove a portion of the edge on the far side. In France these flakes that run all the way across the biface are known as outre passÌ© flakes" (Baker & Bradley 1997).
The outrepassÌ© flake is usually associated with the Solutrean tradition of circa 17,500 to 19,500 ybp. The Upper Solutrean (18,000 ybp) is even more fa mous for its thin bifaces that were created with the soft hammer percussion technique very similar to the one used by Clovis. When the Upper Solutrean kit appears in the archaeological record, there are increases in biface and end scraper use, and a decrease in retouched true-blades. Additionally, the appearance of the leaf-shaped flint point (laurel-leaf) with one plane face and the other retouched is indicative of this period (Baker & Bradley 1997). These particulars seem to suggest contact and technology diffusion between Clovis and Upper Paleolithic Europe.
Baker's argument appears peculiar (contact between Clovis and Middle Paleolithic, as well as Upper Paleolithic Old World cultures). He justifies his theory by weaving a somewhat convoluted scenario. Baker suggests there was a New World migration from Eurasia during the Middle Paleolithic (between 20,000 - 30,000 ybp) via Beringia. These nomads probably utilized a flake technology barely distinguishable from some Archaic complexes (except lacking arrowheads). This explains why their occupation of the New World is presently ambiguous. Then sometime about 13,500 ybp, a small number of Upper Paleolithic European (Solutrean) people managed to reach the New World. The newcomers introduced soft hammer percussion flaking and bifacial reduction. This exquisite technique quickly spread among the existing population and gave birth to the New World fluted tradition (Baker & Bradley 1997).
Bradley deviates from Baker's reasoning to some extent. He agrees with Baker that Clovis (fluted points in particular) is a New World invention, but disagrees that there was a contemporaneous Old World assemblage which might be an adequate progenitor. "I believe that Solutrean is a great example of a pre-Clovis assemblage, especially the terminal Solutrean in the Cantabrian Region of northern Spain. Solutrean there is dominated by fully bifacial, indented base points" (Baker & Bradley 1997).
Bradley believes that flake and true-blade technologies can co-exist within a single complex. The apparent domination of true-blade technologies in Upper Paleolithic Solutrean is only present in some sites, while others seem dominated by bifacial technology and tools. The differences might represent different site-specific functions, or possibly variations within Solutrean subgroups. For example, Bradley cites the Solutrean of northern Spain. They lacked high quality raw material (as opposed to Solutrean in France), but managed to adapt bifacial technologies to the marginal available resources. Under such circumstances one might expect an adoption of a microblade technology, but this did not occur (Baker & Bradley 1997). Clearly there existed a strong preference toward bifacial reduction as a manufacturing technique.
Bradley opposes Baker's Middle Paleolithic migration across Beringia. He argues that there is not enough evidence to make such a claim. All the assemblages of northeastern Asia at that time were dominated by a microblade technology, not a flake industry. Rather, Bradley suggests that the terminal Solutrean in the Cantabrian Region of northern Spain is the most likely candidate as the Clovis progenitor.
"Being a coastal and water-oriented people they are strong candidates for the progenitors of Clovis. Their serious bifacial tendencies may have acted like a founder's effect so that once in the New World, BLADE (true-blade) technology never really caught hold again...I am still a strong proponent of Clovis out of Solutrean, across the Atlantic in boats, but I also acknowledge that there is much work that needs to be done to investigate this theory...The real baseline research on Solutrean technology has yet to be published, and there are constant breakthroughs with dating theory and method " (Baker & Bradley 1997).
The Solutrean-Clovis Theory is not without it critics, however. Stuart Fiedel questions the Solutrean-Clovis connection in his recent publication, The Peopling of the New World (2000). Fiedel states that,
"Solutrean flint knappers created beautiful leaf-shaped bifaces, using techniques that seem to have been replicated by Clovis and later Plano toolmakers. But the Solutrean industry, prevalent only in France and the Iberian Peninsula, did not persist beyond ca. 16,500 rcybp (19,000 B.P.)--about 6,000 years before the appearance of Clovis. Besides, the same biface-thinning techniques were practiced by Russian Upper Paleolithic toolmakers who can be more credibly connected with the Asian ancestors of the Paleoindians (Fiedel 2000:43). Fiedel continues, "...a hypothesized ocean voyage along the rim of the North Atlantic appears very improbable. The absence of Sinodonty in the Cro-Magnon remains from Western Europe, as in Eastern Europe, also seems to preclude any direct role in Clovis ancestry" (Fiedel 2000:75).
Most notably, Lawrence Straus of the University of New Mexico is outspoken about his opposition to the Solutrean-Clovis connection. Straus is an expert on the Solutrean technocomplex, having authored many publication on the topic, including his Ph.D. dissertation. Straus contends that Solutrean is an "impossible candidate as the source for either pre-Clovis or Clovis traditions in North America" (2000:219). He supports his claim with a variety of arguments. Straus states that Solutrean terminated about 16,500 - 18,000 ybp, over 5,000 years before the the appearance of Clovis. Additionally, 5000 km of open ocean separate the two continents and there lacks evidence that Solutrean had navigation, deep-sea fishing, or marine mammal hunting capacities which would have been mandatory for a maritime adapted culture making a transoceanic sojourn. Straus contends that there are "major differences between the Solutrean and Clovis in terms of composition of lithic and osseous technologies and with regard to artistic activity" (2000:219). Finally, he argues that there is no evidence indicating that Solutrean lived in the British Isles, the most likely "jumping-off" point for a northern coastal route to the New World. Straus concludes that the peopling of the New World was the result of one or more migrations from Asia (Straus 2000).
Straus counters Stanford's assertion that Solutrean is not considerably older than Clovis by stating that the "Clovis technology has now been carefully dated between 11,200-10,900 ybp" (2000:220), while in "Cantabrian Spain, the dates for the Solutrean range from about 20,500 to 17,000 ybp..."(2000:220). Straus cites dates for other regional Solutrean complexes and concludes that the latest Solutrean points are over 5,000 radiocarbon years older than the first Clovis points. In Stanford's defense, the earliest well-dated Clovis site is Aubrey, Texas, with two dates averaging circa 11,565 rcybp, plus/minus 50 (about 13,200 - 13,600 cal ybp) (Fiedel 2000). These calibrated dates narrow the gap between Solutrean and Clovis to between 3,400 and 3,800 years. Although this is still a considerable time gap, the dates do not take into account the possibility of sites yet unknown, including possible underwater sites on the continental shelves. Additionally, if the older dates for pre-Clovis artifacts at Meadowcroft Rockshelter (18,800 ybp) can be validated, the temporal gap between Solutrean and early New World complexes becomes nonexistent.
Straus also argues that the furthest northern occupation of Solutrean was at Saint-Sulpice-de-Favieres, just south of Paris. According to Straus, this location is too far south to have been an adequate launching point for a migration to the New World (2000:221). Again, as yet unexplored underwater sites might reveal Solutrean occupations further north. Additionally, Straus assumes a coastal migration by boat or foot and ignores the possibility of a transatlantic, open-ocean crossing. Although such a journey seems unrealistic given current knowledge of Upper Paleolithic technology, the possibility should be considered.
According to Straus, the appearance and use of bifacial foliate "points" and bone "rods" in Clovis is an example of widespread technological convergence or parallelism, and not evidence of hyper-migration. Straus argues that blanks for stone tools were flakes, true-blades, and bladelets (microblades). The Solutrean "leaf," shouldered and stemmed points were usually made on true-blades produced from a prepared prismatic core. The "laurel-leaf" point (perhaps used as a knife), that the Solutrean is best known for, had great variation in size and shape, but backed bladelets dominated the assemblage (between 5% and 40% of the total assemblage). According to Straus, the classic Solutrean point was either unifacially or bifacially worked by invasive percussion and pressure flaking. Occasionally heat treatment was applied. Overshot flaking does occur on the finest specimens, but most lacked this sophisticated technique. Straus notes that overshooting is "common wherever facially working techniques were used, as they were in many times and places in the prehistory of the world" (2000:221). Although concaved-based bifaces do occur in Solutrean, these represent but one of a great variety of techniques (i.e., long narrow "willow leaves," classic bipointed, convexed sided "laurel leaves," shouldered, stemmed, rounded and straight based, etc.) and Solutrean points are never fluted. Though the conc aved-based points are found in the Cantabrian region of Spain, the concavities are much slighter than is found in Clovis, and Solutrean points are generally 6 times greater in length. Antler and bone artifacts are common in Solutrean, but not nearly so much in Clovis. Additionally, Solutrean possess a variety of endscrappers, perforators, knives, true burins, bone needles, and atlatls. Straus states that,
"Solutrean is thus very different from both the well-known Clovis and the much less-understood pre-Clovis industries of North America, both in its specific artifact forms (e.g., true burins, backed bladelets) and in its diversity of projectile types, as well as other lithic and organic implements and fabrication techniques...Microblades, tanged and shouldered points--all common in various Solutrean assemblages--are absent in the far more limited technological repertoire of Clovis" (2000:222).
Straus argues that any superficial similarities are attributable to independent invention. There are only a limited number of ways to make a projectile point out of stone and invasive retouch (by pressure flaking or by soft, hard, direct, or indirect percussion) is one of them. Overshooting to accomplish bifacial thinning is easily explained as convergence between Solutrean and Clovis. The presence of a basal concavity, grinding and thinning (for hafting a point) can also be explained this way. Additionally, the use of red ocher is not grounds for basing any cultural relationship being that red ocher was used universally by Paleolithic peoples (2000:222). Although Straus' contention regarding technological similarities is duly notes, recent finds at the Gault site, Texas, may weaken his argument. This possibility will be explored later in this paper.
Straus contends that there lacks evidence of maritime adaptation within Solutrean. He admits that evidence of marine mollusk collection and minor fishing is present at La Riera Cave, Cova Rosa, and Altamira, but there is no evidence for deep-sea fishing or marine mammal exploitation (with the exception of one rear phalanx of a common seal at Altamira) (2000:222). Images of penguins and seals at Cosquer Cave and other cave sites suggest that the Solutrean were familiar with the sea coast, but no images of boats are present to suggest a seafaring technology (Abbe H. Breuil, the French archaeologist, would argue this point). "Solutrean subsisted in largely treeless grasslands and heaths, mainly hunting medium to large terrestrial ungulate game: principally reindeer and horse in France, red deer and ibex in Iberia...There is no evidence for any degree of Solutrean mammoth hunting, in contrast to at least several classic Clovis sites" (2000:223). Straus does not mention the impact of sea level rise to his data. With sea levels rising nearly 100 meters during the terminal Pleistocene (Faught, lecture, 2000), marine-adapted sites may likely be submerged, casting the illusion of a strict terrestrial adaptation.
Straus' final attack deals with the apparent lack of art and ornamentation within Clovis-age sites verses its abundance in Solutrean sites. However, in light of recent find at Gault, this argument seems weakened. Additionally, there are at least four rock art images in Utah which are termed "Mammoth" (Manila site, Indian Creek, Upper Sand Island, and Moab), as well as another in Northwestern New Mexico above the Wijiji site. The one outside of Moab on the south bank of the Colorado River is the most well known (John Campbell, personal communication, 2000). Unfortunately these rock art "anomalies" are generally ignored by researchers because of preconceived notions toward Clovis-age art production. Clearly Clovis people were less-inclined to create art and ornamentation than the Solutrean tradition. That said, art and ornamentation are not void in the Clovis-age archaeological record, and the apparent lack thereof can be attributed to culture change as one might expect to occur over time and space. In other words, perhaps art and ornamentation were downplayed in the New World as a result of differing circumstances less encouraging to their production. Other scientists are skeptical of the Solutrean-Clovis connection. Dr. Meltzer, of Southern Methodist University, contends that the Ice Age Atlantic would have been very difficult to cross in primitive boats. "The Titanic didn't even make it across in 1912," Meltzer said (Hesman 1999). Additionally, Kenneth Tankersley of Kent State University notes that Solutrean-Clovis differences outnumber similarities. He argues that although,
"...there are...similarities between bone and ivory artifacts, and even symbols...There are two counterarguments: first, the differences between Clovis and Solutrean artifacts are greater than the similarities; second, the technological resemblances may simply represent similar temperate-zone adaptations. In other words, Clovis and Solutrean flaked-stone technologies are convergent; one is not derived from the other, nor do they stem from a common forebear" (Tankersley 1999).
Despite this statement, Tankersley is also quoted as saying, "There is no question about it...There are only two places in the world and two times that this technology appears Û" Solutrean and Clovis" (Verrengia 1999). At a recent symposium in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Tankersley pointed out that New Mexico archaeologist Frank C. Hibben found two bifacially flaked, willow-leaf-shaped points in the lowest level of the Sandia Cave site near Albuquerque. Hibben noted that the Sandia artifacts more closely resembled the flaking technology of the Solutrean than they did Folsom. Hibbin also reported Folsom-style points had been recovered in a level of the site above the two enigmatic artifacts. He (Tankersley) suggested that the diffusion theory of Solutrean technology into North America is alive and well in 1999 (Hall 1999). However encouraging Hibbin's beliefs may initially seem to pro -Solutrean-Clovis theorists, his evidence was dubious at best. Questions surrounding Hibbin's scientific integrity have circulated for decades and Sandia points are now considered equivocal, if not fraudulent.
Let us momentarily return to Straus. Straus makes several important and informed statements in opposition to the Solutrean-Clovis connection, though not all of them are immune from theoretical and/or data counterarguments. As previously mentioned, Straus' temporal separation between Solutrean and Clovis is somewhat exaggerated. He uses radiocarbon, rather than calibrated dates, extending the gap nearly 2,000 years. The temporal gap might also be narrowed as more sites are discovered on the submerged continental shelves of eastern North America and western Europe. Had Solutrean become marine-adapted in the Upper Pleistocene, one would expect to find a concentration of sites in regions now fathoms deep off Iberia. In turn, had Solutrean migrated down the east coast of North America, their first habitation sites would have been coastal. These sites, too, would presently be underwater. The potential for submerged prehistoric sites in Europe are exampled by Cosquer Cave (Solutrean-age) and Fermanville (Neandertal), while Michael Faught's research in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates the potential for submerged prehistoric sites (Pleistocene-Holocene boundary) on the continental shelves of the New World (Faught, lecture, 2000). As a note, French archaeologist Abbe H. Breuil, working at La Mouthe Cave in the Dordogne in the southwest of France, identified what he interpreted as the depiction of a sailboat on the cave wall (Wisner 2000). Archaeologists unanimously agree that Upper Pleistocene peoples were mobile and capable of making extensive and rapid journeys through harsh environments.
Straus suggests that Solutrean had greater variation than Clovis with regards to point shape and size. However, many Clovis researchers argue for great shape and size variation within Clovis. The kill site at Naco, Arizona, is a good example. Eight Clovis points were found in association with mammoth bones, 5 of which were in place among the ribs of the proboscidean. The points varied in size from 57 mm long by 23 mm wide, to 116 mm long by 34 mm wide. Intermediate sizes occur between the two. Given the fact that the points are all associated with the same kill, it can be inferred that great variation in size exited among Clovis points of the same group. Blackwater Draw, New Mexico, also had a small Clovis point measuring only 38 mm by 16 mm, much smaller than it traditionally found in Clovis assemblages (Sellards 1952).
Perhaps Straus' most important critique is the differences between Solutrean and Clovis technology and art. Recently artifact recovered at the Gault site in Texas have produced a large array of Clovis-age artifacts that bear, according to Michael B. Collins, a "strikingly similarity' to Upper Paleolithic material from Europe, specifically Solutrean, with regard to technology and art (Wisner 2000). The Gault site is an extensive campsite and lithic workshop (700 m long, 200 m wide, more than 2 meters deep) on a terrace off a tributary of the Salado Creek in Bell County, about 35 miles north of Austin. It has had continuous human occupation since Clovis time. Fresh water, protective bluffs, and Edwards chert outcrops of extraordinary quality make the site ideal for habitation. Complex colluvial and fluvial valley deposits are overlain by a thick Holocene anthrosol. The site was first investigated over 70 years ago by J.E. Pearce, University of Texas at Austin, in 1929. In 1991, Collins, a research associate with the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas in Austin, found in the lowest strata (though only the top 10 cm because of groundwater levels) four Clovis style projectile points, a fragmentary Clear Fork tool, bifacial point preforms, exotic quartz crystal and chalcedony flakes, debitage, three Clovis true-blade segments and a prismatic true-blade core, burins, dart points, a burin spall, one Plainview (or Goshen) point, and 15 small engraved stones (Collins 1991:13, 1992:4; Wisner 2000). Since 1991, many additional artifacts have been recovered. Working with Collins are Harry Shafer, Michael Waters, both of Texas A&M University at College Station, and previously Tom Hester of the University of Texas at Austin (Wisner 2000).
Collins criticizes the Gault site for lacking suitable material for radiocarbon dating, and poor preservation of bone. Almost all dating has been relative to diagnostic Clovis points. Bone fragment finds include bison, horse, and a mammoth mandible with teeth. These osteological finds have also been found in association with artifacts. The Wilson-Leonard site, about 15 miles away, possesses comparable material and has revealed dates pointing toward the Clovis horizon. Collins believes that the material from the Wilson-Leonard site is "typologically similar," allowing for a dual-site comparison of artifacts. Additionally, limited use-wear studies on of the Clovis blades suggest they were used for processing plants. Such subsistence practices has not been evident at other Clovis-age sites. Collins plans for additional study of these unique wear markings (Collins 1992:4; Wisner 2000).
Collins has prepared a list of 18 similarities between Clovis and Solutrean (not available for this paper -- see 1998 TARL Research Notes) and other west European finds, including technological similarities, general patterns, and similarities in engraved stones (Wisner 2000). Collins states,
"All of the Upper Paleolithic cultures of western Europe share the traits of prismatic blades and burins made of flint along with various tools made of bone and antler...Of more specific interest are true-blades, true-blade cores and beveled-base bone and antler points found in Aurignacian sites; large, thin bifaces and spear points of Solutrean affiliation; and...small, flat engraved stones called plaquettes. Some of these traits are shared with Clovis assemblages found widely across North America, some are restricted to only part of the Clovis range, and two are almost exclusively from the Gault site" (Wisner 2000).
Collins points out that Clovis preforms were also distinctive, and one distinctive feature are the presence of overshot flakes. Gault has the largest number of this kind of artifact in Texas, and one of the largest number in North America. Collins also notes that one of the most distinctive Upper Paleolithic true-blade tools in the European kit is the burin (a beveled point believed to have been used to carve bone and antler). Burin are extraordinarily rare in Clovis sites, but the Gault site recently revealed one, and may have up to three examples.
The engraved stones at Gault offer interesting insights into Clovis culture and ornamentation. Clovis-age art is extremely limited in the archaeological record. The mammoth petroglyph in Utah (questionable) and the incised ivory foreshaft (Faught, lecture, 2000) from Florida represent the previous total of Clovis-age artwork. In 1990, four elaborately engraved limestone rocks were recovered at Gault in apparent association with four Clovis points dating to about 11,200 B.P.. By 1999, Collins had recovered more than 50 engraved stones. Some stones clearly came from an in situ deposit with a Clovis point association. Other age-diagnostic artifacts found in the same deposit indicate that the engraved cobbles are of early Paleoindian age, possibly Clovis. Engraved stones are only known from 3 sites in the Western Hemisphere--one from Wilson-Leonard (also with a rectilinear grid pattern), Texas, and one from Blackwater Draw, New Mexico, and now the Gault site. These examples constitute the earliest securely dated engravings in North America. The stones display geometric patterns that have not been positively deciphered. They range in length from 4.5 to 16.0 cm, two are broken and two are engraved bifacially. Straight lines dominant the patterns, while on four stones, "parallel line sets intersect similar sets at various angles to form rectilinear or diamond-shaped grids" (Collins 1991:15). Two other stones have curvilinear and intersecting straight lines. One stone displays diamond-shaped patterns at the end of straight lines, while three stones are too obscured by calcite to view. Collins suggests that the patterns might represent images of plants, or more speculatively, spear points stuck in animals. Though a burin was found among the artifacts, Collins does not think the carvings were made with a burin.
In Collins' 1999 publication, Clovis Blade Technology, he says,
"With the technological resemblances between Solutrean and Clovis bifaces as well as between Solutrean and Clovis blade (true) cores, one wonders if Clovis knapping behavior may ultimately derive from western Europe. This possibility takes on even greater significance in light of evidence of an apparently pre-Clovis biface- and prismatic-blade technology from Meadowcroft Rockshelter and nearby sites in Pennsylvania" (1999:179-180).
Beyond the scope of this paper are ancillary tidbits of evidence in support of a Solutrean-Clovis connection, or at the very least, in support of a non-traditional peopling of the New World. A few important issues will briefly be discussed here. Skeletal and genetic evidence suggests the possibility of a European or European-like (morphologically and genetically) population in the New World at an early date. Physical anthropologists Richard Jantz of the University of Tennessee, Joseph Powell of the University of New Mexico, and Douglas Owsley of the Smithsonian Institute, compared data from the earliest-known American skeletons with data from living populations worldwide. They characterized Americans of 8,000 to 10,000 years ago as having greater variation between populations than from later indigenous populations. According to the scientists, early New World crania are usually different from any modern crania (Hall 2000).
Early New World skeletal remains display inconsistent characteristics. Both sinodont (shovel-shaped incisors) and sundadont dental morphologies are pr esent in early New World remains. This is intriguing because sinodonty is present in northeast Asian populations, while sundadonty is a more generalized trait often associated with non-Mongolian populations, including Europeans. Early crania also tend to be more rugged and long, rather than round and smooth-browed like modern Mongoloid populations. Additionally, the lack of a epicanthic eyefold and the prominent noses of traditional Native American populations is curious. Some researchers have argued that historic Native American populations are "hybrids resulting from multiple migration waves" (Fiedel 2000). However, such hypotheses usually consider an initial Proto-Caucasoid, Australoid, or southern Sundadont Mongoloid migration having taken place via Beringia, only to have hybridized with a later Sinodont northern Mongoloid migratory population. Interestingly, unusually archaic morphological traits can still be seen in isolated peripheral regions, like Tierra del Fuego, which can be construed to supporting a hybridization model (Fiedel 2000).
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis of Native American populations is also curious. Five haplotypes occur in New World populations. Those are A, B, C, D, and X. "The ubiquitous occurrence of the five haplotypes indicates either remarkably effective mixture of five separate genetic linkages after their arrival in the Americas or...a single migration event by a group initially containing all these Asian-derived haplotypes" (Fiedel 2000). A, B, C, and D haplotypes are found in modern Asian populations of Mongolia, central China, Tibet, Taiwan, and highest in the Tuva and Buryat of southern Siberia. Haplotype X is something different. "Haplotype X, present in North America native groups including Ojibwa, Nuu-Chah-Nulth, Sioux, and Yakima, has not yet been seen in any East Asian population, but a distantly related mtDNA type has been reported recently in European populations (e.g., Finns, Italians, and Druze)" (Fiedel 2000). Fiedel argues that the occurrence of haplotype X was likely introduced in Europe as a result of various Turko-Mongol invasions or other migrations of Uralic peoples in more modern times. Alternatively, Fiedel suggests it could be the result of an Upper Paleolithic admixture of Caucasoids and Mongoloids prior to any Berginia migration. Fiedel does not consider the possibility that the presence of haplotype X may be the result of a migration from Iberia in the Pleistocene, even though this model would likewise coincide with the evidence.
Another curiosity is seen in Y-chromosome DNA polymorphisms. Second in prevalence among Native American populations is haplotype 10 (found in 30%of native North American males tested).
"Haplotype 10 also appears to have given rise to haplotype 1, which is common in European Caucasoids as well as (subcontinental) Indians. All of these Y-chromosome variants are absent in Chinese and Japanese males...So, southern/central Siberia seems to be the area where two ancestral gene pools overlap: one encompassing the female lineages of America, northern China, and Mongolia, and the other a male lineage that is ultimately related to the ancestors of modern Europeans, and not to East Asian Mongoloids" (Fiedel 2000:69).
Such an admixture of male and female ancestry could be the result of exogamous movement of women between patrilineal bands (Fiedel 2000). But when? Fiedel argues prior to any New World migration. Yet, another model encompassing the same skeletal and genetic data might argue for a New World admixture as a result of multiple migrating populations from differing parts of the Old World--from, perhaps, Asia and Europe. Once again, the presence of haplotype 10 among Native America males can also be explained by a migration from Western Europe.
Although questionable in the minds of most anthropologists, some linguistic evidence might point toward the Iberian Peninsula. In the 1960's, the Morris Swadesh in the Handbook of Middle American Indians, claimed he found a connection between the Nadene (Athasbascan) linguistic family of North America and the Basque linguistic isolate. This connection, he argued, dated back thousands of years. Basque is the only European language to have survived the influence of proto-Indo-European, which entered the Basque region more than 5,000 years ago. One can infer then that Basque language is at least 5,000 years old, and some argue it is far older. The Basque themselves contend they have survived in their homeland for tens of thousands of years. Though Swadesh has been criticized as a lumper when it comes to linguistic correlations, the claim is nonetheless intriguing under the circumstances. It should be noted that linguist Merritt Ruhlen recently reported to have located a language related to Nadene in Asia. Ket, the only remaining member of the Yeniseian family of languages, shares common words like "birch bark" with some Nadene languages. Ket is spoken by about 550 people (out of a total population of 1,100) who live along the Yenisei River in central Siberia (Lysek 2000).
Another intriguing study is the fluted point distribution survey conducted by Michael Faught and David Anderson (1999). Presently, fluted points (including Clovis) are concentrated in the Southeast and Southwest of the United States, only later moving toward Canada and Alaska (Faught, lecture, 2000). Such a distribution might suggest an entry point somewhere along the eastern seaboard or the Gulf of Mexico (as would be consistent with a transatlantic migratory route), rather than across Beringia. One explanation for the unusual distribution phenomena is that fluted points were invented in the Southeastern or Southwestern United States and quickly diffused north (and south) among existing populations. However, there is insubstantial evidence to support the existence of a pre-Clovis population in the New World, as would be necessary for such a rapid and widespread diffusion of flute technology. In addition, Clovis appears fully-formed and mature, as though the result of a technological infusion, not the slow evolutionary process of an adapting domesticate. These facts are consistent with a large migration of people utilizing (and introducing) flute technology, or possibly developing flute technology immediately after arriving in the New World.
There is currently not enough evidence to support the existence of a widespread, pre-Clovis occupation of the New World. It seems likely then, that the Clovis people had to migrate from somewhere outside the New World. At present, only two Old World technocomplexes reasonably fit the criteria as the Clovis progenitor--Kostenki and Solutrean. If the Kostenki were Clovis antecedents, a Beringia migration model would comfortably fit the paradigm. However, Christy Turner's research on Kostenki dentition indicates that Kostenki had primarily sundadont morphology, raising a variety of questions in itself (Faught, personal communication, 2000). An alternative hypothesis is that the Clovis progenitor is found among the Solutrean of Europe's Upper Pleistocene. This hypothesis is supported by a wide-range of data, much of which was presented in this paper. If evidence exists to suggest that Solutrean is the Clovis progenitor (and it seems to), then perhaps it is our popular image of Upper Paleolithic technology and adaptation that needs reevaluation. Whether the Solutrean-Clovis connection will be verified is simply a matter of scientific exploration, but without a concerted, open-minded inquiry, the prospect will remain as it presently is--merely a tantalizing possibility.
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Yup. Maybe some of these folks, huh?
The biggest problem with hunter gatherers is genetic viablity, people have to marry out, so they have to be with in hailing distance from the nearest groups.
I tend to agree. Another wave of immigrants perhaps?
"...Dyuktai Cave (14-13,000 rcybp) on the Aldan River, Siberia, is interesting because of the discovery of bifacial projectile points, oval and triangular knives, discoidal, Levallois, wedge-shaped cores, multifaceted burins, large side scrapers, small end scrappers on blades, and retouched flakes. These artifacts are associated with large animals, including mammoth"....
This is very interesting. As a youth, I and my friends collected such things out of corn and tobacco fields in Clark County, KY.
As a youth, I always looked everywhere for 'Indian arrowheads', to this day I haven't found a one. I did find a 10 million years old petrified shark tooth in the marshes around Charleston once.
You were too close to the coast. If you had driven 50 to 100 miles inland, and looked along low terraces of the Pee Dee, Santee, or Savannah rivers, you could have filled your pockets full of Indian artifacts....I did....:)
(Those lazy Indians along the tidal creeks lived on shellfish, and had no need for weapons...)
Yup, We have some shell mounds here on Dauphin Island that were left by the Shell Mound Indians.
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Thanks go to Fred Nerks for the link and nice update:
The Mammoth Ivory Male head from Dolni Vestonice
A possible forgery
Paul Bahn writing in ‘Journey through the Ice Age’, says that the head may be a fake. His main argument seems to be lack of provenance (meaning that it was not found by a recognised and trusted archaeologist, or with reliable witnesses to the discovery) and that the style is too modern. He also says that the Lady of Brassempouy (the ivory carving of Ayla) may be a fake.
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Thanks. Interesting read.
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