Who were the first people in North America? From where did they come? How did they arrive? The prehistory of the Americas has been widely studied. Over 70 years a consensus became so established that dissenters felt uneasy challenging it. Yet in 2001, genetics, anthropology and a few shards of flint combined to overturn the accepted facts and to push back one of the greatest technological changes that the Americas have ever seen by over five millennia.
...when Jim Adavasio continued to dig below the Clovis layer at his dig near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he found blades and blade cores dating back to 16,000BC. His findings were dismissed as erroneous; too astonishing to be credible. The Clovis consensus had too many reputations behind it to evaporate easily. Some archaeologists who backed Adavasio's conclusions with other similar data were accused of making radiocarbon dating errors or even of planting finds.
He spotted the similarity in production method between the Clovis point and tools made by the Solutrean neolithic (Stone Age) culture in southwest France. At this stage his idea was pure hypothesis, but could the first Americans have been European?
The Solutreans were a remarkably society, the most innovative and adaptive of the time. They were among the first to discover the value of heat treating flints to increase strength. Bradley was keen to discover if Solutrean flintknapping styles matched Clovis techniques. A trawl through the unattractive flint offcuts in the storerooms of a French museum convinced him of the similarities, even though five thousand kilometres lay between their territories.
All this evidence was still essentially circumstantial, making the Solutrean adventure possible not proven. Douglas Wallace's DNA history bore fruit once more. In the DNA profile of the Ichigua Native American tribe he identified a lineage that was clearly European in origin, too old to be due to genetic mixing since Columbus' discovery of the New World. Instead it dated to Solutrean times. Wallace's genetic timelines show the Ice Age prompted a number of migrations from Europe to America. It looks highly likely that the Solutreans were one.
Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution spent years in Alaska and found no connection between Siberian artifacts and Clovis technology. His new theory is that Clovis people came not from Siberia, but from Europe. The Solutrean people of France and Spain were their predecessors, he says.
[T]he Indian Affairs Committee has just approved a two-word change to federal law that could render the scientific study of pre-Columbian history in the United States virtually impossible.
One of the first casualties of the revision would be Kennewick Man—the popular name for a set of 9,300-year-old bones found along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash., in 1996. Human remains of that age are extremely rare in North America. Each discovery has much to teach about the ancient settlement of the western hemisphere. Kennewick Man holds special interest because the bones are well preserved and aren’t obviously related to modern-day tribal populations. The first physical anthropologist to examine them initially thought they belonged to a 19th-century pioneer of European extraction. Then the carbon-dating results came back with their amazing conclusion.
When Kennewick Man came to light, a coalition of tribes in the Pacific Northwest demanded the remains under the provisions of NAGPRA. They said they wished to bury the bones, making further study impossible. The Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over Kennewick Man, took steps to comply. But then a group of prominent scientists sued. In 2004, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the scientists, pointing out that the modern tribes had failed to demonstrate an adequate link between themselves and the skeleton of a person who died more than nine millennia ago.
ST. LOUIS—The first humans to spread across North America may have been seal hunters from France and Spain.
Recent studies have suggested that the glaciers that helped form the bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska began receding around 17,000 to 13,000 years ago, leaving very little chance that people walked from one continent to the other.
Also, when archaeologist Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution places American spearheads, called Clovis points, side-by-side with Siberian points, he sees a divergence of many characteristics.
Instead, Stanford said today, Clovis points match up much closer with Solutrean style tools, which researchers date to about 19,000 years ago. This suggests that the American people making Clovis points made Solutrean points before that.
SEATTLE, July 19—The ending of a long legal battle between Northwest Indian tribes and scientists last week is expected soon to put Kennewick Man, a 9,200-year-old skeleton, into the hands of anthropologists hoping for powerful clues to the mystery of who first populated the Americas.
The accidental discovery of its skull by two young men walking along the Columbia River caused a sensation, not only because of its age but also because some features did not resemble those of modern American Indians, as would have been expected then.
But in February, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the tribes had not proved that the remains were those of an American Indian. Anthropologists say the remains are part of an expanding body of evidence showing that American Indians, long thought to have been the original inhabitants of the Americas, may not have been the first people to live on the continents.
...documentary, 'Ice Age Columbus'
Traditional history tells us that European settlers discovered America about the time of the Renaissance. But revolutionary new archaeological data and the latest DNA research reveal that Europeans visited our shores far earlier – some 17,000 years before Columbus was even born.
Filmed in glorious high definition, this two-hour, epic drama follows an intrepid family of stone age hunters as they trek from their homeland in southwestern France, cross 3,000 miles of ocean and eventually make their first permanent settlement in what is today the northeastern U.S. Along the way, they overcome starvation and storms with the help of a revolutionary weapons technology they would later bequeath to the native peoples of the Americas. But awaiting the pioneers' arrival is a stark, empty continent, filled with a plethora of bizarre and lethal animals – all brought to life by brilliant computer animation. Firmly rooted in the latest scientific discoveries, it's a compelling vision of the greatest migration in human history.
Solid as a warrior of the Caledonii tribe, the man's hair is reddish brown flecked with grey, framing high cheekbones, a long nose, full lips and a ginger beard. When he lived three thousand years ago, he stood six feet tall, and was buried wearing a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. He looks like a Bronze Age European. In fact, he's every inch a Celt. Even his DNA says so.
But this is no early Celt from central Scotland. This is the mummified corpse of Cherchen Man, unearthed from the scorched sands of the Taklamakan Desert in the far-flung region of Xinjiang in western China, and now housed in a new museum in the provincial capital of Urumqi.
DNA testing confirms that he and hundreds of other mummies found in Xinjiang's Tarim Basin are of European origin.
"He was said to have been tall of stature, with a white skin, dark hair, and a flowing beard....In a preceding I have noted the popular traditions respecting Quetzalcoal, that deity with a fair complexion and flowing beard, so unlike the Indian physiognomy, who, after fulfilling his mission of benevolence among them, embarked on the Atlantic Sea for the mysterious shores of Tlapallan. He promised, on his departure, to return at some future day..... and resume the possession of his empire. That day was looked forward to with hope or with apprehension, according to the interest of the believer, but with general confidence throughout the wide borders of Anahuac."
- William Hickling Prescot
Source for the first image at the top along with additional information.
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