A relatively new hypothesis has been presented by a pair of archaelogists. Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian institution and Bruce Bradley of the University of Exeter have suggested, that it might be a possibility, that the early ancient American culuture we call the Clovis was formed by a sort of a migration from Europe by the ice age hunter gatherers of the so called Solutrian culture. They base their idea on the fact that these two cultures separated by thousands of kilometers of ice and sea of the Atlantic ocean (and a few thousand years) had a very similar stone working technology. The Clovis spearheds and those of the Solutrean resemble each other much, but are not quite the same and their ages overlap only in the extreme marginals as the Solutrean culture thrived from 21000 to 17000 years ago and the Clovis seems to have appeared only some 13000 years ago. Some new finds from the eastern coast of the North America seem to be from between these ages and it has been claimed by these two archeologists mentioned earlier that they have found an actual Solutrean spearhed from the America.


The Solutrean spearheads are made in distinctive leaf-like shape.

It is a revolutionary idea not without problems. One of the main difficulties facing this hypothesis, is that the locations where the ice age people living along the coastlines of both Europe and the North-America are sunken beneath the seas, since the sealevel has risen dramatically from the last ice age. If a Solutrean spearhed is found by a deep sea dragnet from the coastal area of the northen Americas, it really yeilds very little information how it got there, even if the same drag could have pulled up mammoth bones, that we know were the prey both Clovis and Solutrean cultures were capable and specialized to hunt. In fact that similarity in diet might as well go to explain the reason of similar technology. But for all we know the spearhead could have ended up there by number of means including somebody just tossing it there from a boat in modern times.

To me even more interresting similarity is the cultural aspect of making caches of spearpoints both of these cultures seem to have been engaged in. Now, a traditional easy way out in archaeology is to explain something strange the ancient people did as religious behaviour. It is an easy but also frighteningly frequent human behavioral model, that when we humans engage in something completely senseless, it is because we think it is demanded by the supernatural. However, the supernatural traditions of human populations often enough also have a beginning in something that made perfect sense within the cultural context that gave birth to a particular religious way of thinking. Therefore, it might be that the cache makin is somehow connected to the lifestyle of the big game hunter using particular type of spearheads. And equally it is possible that later generations of them simply developed it into a ritual of some sort, that finally no longer had any practical application. Because of this we cannot know wether the similarities of these cultures actually speak of any connection in a way of a direct link between them.

For generations we were told that the Sumerians were the ones who invented the wheel. They did indeed, but the Chinese and even the Incas had invented it also. Only the Incas did not have any practical use for such a device in their mountainous land,  so it can only be found in their childrens toys. And further more we use the wheel despite if we are the direct decendants of Sumerians, ancient Chinese, or the Incas. That is exactly the point. For similar uses and problems it is often that similar solutions are invented on completely different sides of the planet and they are adopted from completely different cultures. The proponents of the so called “Solutrean theory” have fallen into a bit of a pitfall, in claiming that since none of the Siberian, or Alaskan pre-historic cultures and predecessors of the Clovis culture have nothing similar as the Clovis and Solutrean cultures had, the Solutreans have had to give this idea to the Clovis culture. It might be true, but it does not require any sort of migration or even any bigger population movement into this or that direction. Even one skilled person could be enough to transfer a functional idea. And functional ideas have a habit of being invented again and again around the globe.

On the other hand it is not totally unfathomable, that few small groups of people crossed the icepack of the Atlantic and brought the idea of certain kind of stone tool making to the America with them, but the likelyhood of a mass migration not to speak of continous contact both ways as suggested by Bruce Bradley is not very probable, or even needed.

The Clovis culture and the artifacts they left behind are concentrated in inland areas near the Appalachian mountains where the particular type of flint needed in their advanced type of stone crafting is awailable in nature and also in areas where the big game they hunted with their efficient stone tools was grazing. This is similar to the Solutreans culture in Europe, but it is also obvious that these cultures concentrated around the areas of their source material for tools, and that when they travelled away from the main source areas they made caches. Hence, it is very difficult to assume anything of their migration routes or origin of their cultural skills.


Clovis spearheads are made in similar technique as the Solutrean ones, but their shape is completely different, from them.

The fact that the two archeologists have gone as far with their claims as to suggest a mass migration based on an evidence of possible cultural lone, has had ugly side-effects. Allready there are racists claiming that this possible discovery is not only absolutely true, but also that it somehow justifies what the immigrants in early modern days and the government of the United States have done to the Native Americans. There are people in the internet who preach that the Clovis culture was racially European and that the Native Americans wiped it out and that the Europeans conquering and exacting genoside on the Native Americans was a mere revenge and they went there to take their land back. This is of course absurd, even if this hypothesis could be more firmly established. First of all general Custer and friends had no idea of the Clovis culture, nor had any actual justification for any sort of revenge. Second the Native Americans who fell as their victims had no part in any genoside of the Clovis culture. It is very hard to find living guilty parties when we are talking about possible events that might have happened some 10000 years ago.

How have these racial bigots come to the conclusion that the Clovis culture was wiped out by the Native American cultures? Well, the DNA of the Native Americans has no real indication of anything, but Asian origin. This is very hard to research, because the Europeans and Native Americans have been interbreeding now for centuries. However, there is the mystery of the haplogroup X, wich has its origins in the Asia-Minor (wich is actually in Asia, not in Europe) and in the Native Americans of the eastern North-America. Could that be explained by common ancestry as far from almost 20000 years ago and connection across the Atlantic. Not very likely. There are several different sub divisions of the haplogroup X and it would seem that the Native American one is completely separate from the others. As with the particular stone crafting skills it could have been developed indipendently as it is not exactly the same as the other. In any case it is quite a distance from Asia-Minor to southern France and the Pyrenees where the Solutrean culture thrived and that distance was far longer in the ice age. Though, not impossible to cross.

It is quite possible, that some of the Solutreans actually were forced to abandon their big game hunting life style in Europe and become seal hunters and even that they made it all the way across the Atlantic to the North-Americas and somehow influenced the stone working techniques of people there. There is no evidence that the Solutreans (or the Clovis people) ever hunted seals, or anything exept the big game, but that evidence could very well be beneath the sea, however such evidence is not much of evidence. Perhaps the predecessors of Clovis found one of their caches long after they had actually allready died out and thought it was some sort of a sign from the supernatural to start making stone tools in a completely new way and perhaps they adopted the habit of making caches as a religious ritual from the find they had made.

Perhaps a Solutrean hunter from the Europe got lost on the ice between the continents and finally found himself among a strange culture, taught it a new way of stone craft and left a genetic imprint among them, but as you can see there is a number of ways this could have played out. As in science allways and especially in research of ancient cultures, it is only the most propable explanation that will ever be awailable to us. There are things we can say with a very high confidence because they are testable, or because they logically are the result of the awailable evidence. However, the idea that there was some sort of continous trafic between the Solutrean and the Clovis culture, is not among those claims to wich we have sufficient evidence to be very sure about.

It seems to me that the archeologists who have put themselves, their careers and legacies on the line in this issue, men who have committed themselves to the revolutionary hypothesis, have fallen in love with their interresting idea and are a bit overreaching in defence of it. It is kind of sad, because the very idea that there could have been any connection between these two cultures is sensational enough without far reaching claims about migrations, or continous traffic. As if these two older gents were not aware of the fact, that ideas sometimes transmit through only few persons, or indeed only by a single person and often even by accident. Nor of the fact, that technology of certain culture tells very little of the ethnicity of the users of certain technology, even in the ancient world. It is the equivalent of claiming, that because Kalashnikov rifles are a Russian invention, the Russians must have once migrated to all the areas in the world where these rifles have ever been manufactured, or used. Or even, that Russians must have mass migrated to all the areas where any sort of assault rifles have ever been used since an assault rifle represents a very specific technological idea and the Kalashnikov was the earliest type of assault rifle, that could be found in abundance from a particular part of the world – Russia.