The Curious Case of the Cinmar Biface…

For those of you who don’t follow Paleoindian archaeology, this is the Cinmar biface…

Proponents of the Solutrean hypothesis argue that it was dredged up, along with with remains of a mammoth dated to 22,760 ± 90 RCYBP, off the mid-Atlantic coast. It’s on the cover of their book. If you have an account, you can read about it in more analytical detail here.

With that being said, this article came out yesterday in Journal of Archaeological Science (it’s open access – so you don’t need a subscription).

After reading it, this was about what my reaction was like…


4 comments on “The Curious Case of the Cinmar Biface…

  1. lsb says:

    Reblogged this on Lewis Borck and commented:
    Shane Miller has a nice post on the continuing conflict between those supporting the Solutrean hypothesis for the peopling of the Americas and those arguing it is insupportable. If you don’t follow early North American paleolithic archaeology, this is the idea that people followed the Atlantic ice shelf from Europe into the the Americas, likely following seals. There is a new paper attacking this claim that shows just how nasty academic fights can be. Often times, people get called liars in print, but it’s usually pretty flowery and couched in ways to backpedal if it turns out you were wrong. This one, while not directly saying it, is about as close as I’ve ever seen in archaeology. Here’s the conclusion:

    “Until clearly and reliably addressed, the gravity of the discrepancies and factual inaccuracies presented above indicates that there is no evidence that the stone blade and the mastodon remains were associated or where exactly either was originally discovered. Going further, given the reported inconsistencies in the blade’s history, there is no confirmable evidence currently available that demonstrates that it was even dredged up by the Cinmar. Thus, even in the event that the same, original underwater mastodon site is eventually empirically proven to be re-located at some point in the future, this re-discovery would not provide context for, or validate, the stone blade’s association with it.” – Eren, Boulanger, O’Brien 2015 The Cinmar discovery and the proposed pre-Late Glacial Maximum occupation of North America

    You can read the whole article here. JAS is open access so you don’t need library access to read.

  2. dover1952 says:

    So, the moral of the story is what?

    1) Every scallop dredger on the eastern continental shelf should have a PaleoIndian archaeologist on board? Good luck on that!!!

    2) A paleontological discovery made by the average fisherman (who had fishing primarily on his mind at the time) should be as well documented as a land lubber find in a 2-meter square? Good luck on that!!!

    3) The discovery of the fossil remains and the artifact should have never been reported unless the accounts by the fishermen and all other layman parties involved exhibited consistent and streamlined perfection? Good luck on that in the real world!!!

    4) Nothing any artifact collector says can ever be believed? Good luck on that!!!

    5) Why don’t you Solutrean Hypothesis people just shut up and go away—cause your whole idea is just plain stupid? Good luck on that!!!

    I have no personal position one way or the other in this battle. However, I do recall that Ales Hrdlicka was the conservative conventionalist who believed strongly in the Late Arrival Hypothesis and ended up with egg on his face. It also concerns me that this thing has turned into a “you people are stupid” and “what the fuck” battle. We have a hypothesis here. Hypotheses are for objective testing with information and data as such information and data become available. It is neither necessary nor desirable for this to be a highly emotional battle, laden with hard feelings, between two factions who appear to be headed toward bitterness. My recommendation would be to cease the emotional bullshit, give it all some time for hard information and data to accumulate, and simply test the hypothesis. It will take some time—but so what—archaeology is all about time and the gradual revelation of either truth or our latest archaeological fantasy scenario about the past—and it is sometimes hard to tell which is which even on a good day.

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