When Stanford proposed this “Solutrean hypothesis” in 1999, colleagues roundly rejected it. One prominent archaeologist suggested that Stanford was throwing his career away.
But now, 13 years later, Stanford and Bruce Bradley, an archaeologist at England’s University of Exeter, lay out a detailed case — bolstered by the curious blade and other stone tools recently found in the mid-Atlantic — in a new book, “Across Atlantic Ice.”
There’s a bit more in this article than the earlier one including a couple of the named sites, one of which is an underwater one where a blade was brought up (supposedly) along with a mastodon tusk. Scant obviously and there are other difficulties that David Meltzer brings up:
Meltzer is among those still skeptical of the Solutrean hypothesis, citing the scant evidence. “If Solutrean boat people washed up on our shores, they suffered cultural amnesia, genetic amnesia, dental amnesia, linguistic amnesia and skeletal amnesia. Basically, all of the signals are pointing to Asia” as the origin of the first Americans.
One aspect of all this that I actually like is that the tools are actually tools. Something about a lot of pre-Clovis sites in the past that has always bugged me is that the lithics are usually cruddy little things that are barely assignable as “modified”. People elsewhere who moved here all of a sudden forgot how to make bifaces and devolved to simple little flake and pebbles? That’s always been a major weakness IMO.
I’m going to read a couple of the papers having to do with at least the
Lowery Miles Point site and will get back.
UPDATE: Just read through the Mile Point article. Not bad. You know, I get the feeling that if the dates on this were Holocene, archaeologists would accept it pretty much at face value. Here’s the abstract:
New pedological, geological, archaeological, and geochronological data from the Miles Point site in eastern Maryland are compared with similar data from other nearby sites to develop a framework for interpreting the upland stratigraphy in the western Delmarva Peninsula. Our results indicate the presence of two different intervals of loess deposition. The earlier loess (Miles Point Loess) was deposited between 41 and 25 ka. A paleosol (Tilghman Soil) formed in this loess was initially developed in grasslands and boreal environments during a subsequent period of landscape stability between 25 and 18 ka. Between 18 and 12.8 ka, the Miles Point Loess and the Tilghman Soil were eroded in many areas as evidenced by diagnostic ca. 12.8 ka Clovis-age artifacts lying unconformably on the Tilghman Soil. Cores adjacent to the deep channel area of the Chesapeake Bay confirm this erosional unconformity prior to 12.7 ka. A relatively uniform terminal-Pleistocene loess (Paw Paw), deposited prior to the Early Archaic period, buried Clovis-age lag artifacts and other archaeological remains older than 13.2 ka. Stratigraphic evidence from the Late Pleistocene lower Susquehanna River Valley suggests that the Paw Paw Loess is the result of eolian redeposition and reworking of non-glacial eroded upland sediments that filled the valley between 12.7 and 11.5 ka.
Ref: Late Pleistocene upland stratigraphy of the western Delmarva Peninsula,
Quaternary Science Reviews 29(11–12) June 2010, Pages 1472-1480
Darrin L. Lowery, Michael A. O’Neal, John S. Wah, Daniel P. Wagner, Dennis J. Stanford
The lithics were apparently in situ, not eroded (a few were, it’s on a bank), and intact paleosols were present without evidence of small mammal burrowing. They did both bulk sediment sample for luminescence dating and “Additionally, three
charcoal samples and one bulk soil sample were collected from an organic rich stratum for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating.” The AMS dates are from a stratum directly above the surface where the artifacts were located (C14 are from 2ABtxb stratum, artifacts in the 2Btxb stratum). The position of the lithics was:
All of the exposed and excavated artifacts were located at the same relative depth and
were lying ﬂat with respect to the overlying 2ABtxb soil horizon. The uniform depth and orientation of the artifacts does not suggest they are bioturbated and mixed.
The AMS dates range between 21,490 and 27,240 CBP and are reasonably consistent with luminescence dates from the same stratum of 27,940 and 29,845 BP; lum dates from below are also stratigraphically consistent ranging from 24,770 to 41,090.
The lithics themselves aren’t anything special — and they are undoubted artifacts — a couple of blade flakes, a projectile point and a polyhedral core, among others.
The dated paleosol (2ABtxb) correlates with nearby units with similar dates (ca. 18k CBP).
So, undoubted artifacts, in a securely dated context, with no apparent evidence of displacement. I’m not seeing any major problems here.