Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, or just genuinely disinterested in Paleoindian archaeology, you probably know that Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley have argued that people may have first entered North America via the North Atlantic.
Understandably, this is a controversial idea.
This week a couple of articles have come out that undermine the validity of the Solutrean Hypothesis.
I would like to first direct everyone to a back and forth between Lohse et al. and Eren et al. in the latest issue of Lithic Technology. Eren et al. call into question one of the cornerstones of the Solutrean Hypothesis, which is the purported similarity between North American Clovis and Western European Solutrean lithic technology. (You can download all three articles plus Julie Morrow’s review of Stanford and Bradley’s book here).
Adding fuel to the fire is an article in Nature on the DNA sequence from the Clovis-age child burial at the Anzick Site in Montana. You can also find summaries here and here. (Nick Herrmann also sent me a link to the press conference here).
To quote our illustrious Vice President Joe Biden…
…for two reasons.
First, they just dealt mortal blows to the Solutrean Hypothesis. It makes me wonder at what point do we consider an academic debate to be over? Am I jumping the gun here, or can we stop talking about European Paleoindians?
Second, this has HUGE ramifications for NAGPRA, because it connects the proverbial dots between Paleoindians and living Native American groups. Will it open the flood gates for more repatriation claims (particularly Kennewick Man)? Will it prompt interest in more DNA studies on human remains and modern populations in the Americas? I can see both scenarios happening.
Regardless of how you feel about the questions I’ve posed above, I think it’s clear that we should all be interested in a little boy who was buried in Montana at the end of the Ice Age.