About all the “Solutrean Paleoindian” news this week…
There is no new evidence, no revelation, no reason why other archaeologists should revisit this issue at this time. The news is free publicity for the release of a book.
The book, by Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley, titled Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America’s Clovis Culture. The book argues that ancient Europeans, carrying knowledge of the Upper Paleolithic Solutrean toolmaking tradition, voyaged across the icy North Atlantic around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum to establish a new population in the Americas.
I’ve been out of town so it took me a while to figure out why all these newspapers were suddenly interested. None of the news outlets that employ knowledgeable science writers have jumped on this, for good reason. There’s no news here except the book release. An exception is The Washington Post, which ran a long article featuring Stanford and Bradley’s claims (“Radical theory of first Americans places Stone Age Europeans in Delmarva 20,000 years ago”).
At this point, somebody reputable needs to review this and give a serious account of the book’s claims, because there’s too much hype going around. I went to Amazon to see if there was a Kindle version of the book for me to review. But there isn’t a Kindle edition. So I thought, OK, I’ll order the hardback. But Amazon doesn’t have it in stock.
In other words, the University of California Press publicity machine has done its job.
I want to give some links to some other recent books about Paleoindians. I will be reviewing and reading several of these as I go through Stanford and Bradley’s book. That won’t be until after the AAPA meetings, because the hardback of Across Atlantic Ice will take a long time to get here, so if you want to learn more about the initial inhabitants of the Americas, I suggest looking at one or more of these. All are published after 2000, but the older ones are showing their age. I include them because the authors, including Dillehay and Crawford, are experts with their own views that merit comparison. Slightly older volumes are more likely to be found in libraries, also, and comparing them can be a useful reminder that the evidence about early New World peoples really does continue to change.
- David Meltzer (2010) First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America.
- Brian Fagan (2011): The First North Americans: An Archaeological Journey.
- Thomas Dillehay (2001): Settlement Of The Americas A New Prehistory.
- Michael Crawford (2001): The Origins of Native Americans: Evidence from Anthropological Genetics.
- J. M. Adovasio and Jake Page (2003): The First Americans: In Pursuit of Archaeology's Greatest Mystery.
- Michael Waters, and others (2011): Clovis Lithic Technology: Investigation of a Stratified Workshop at the Gault Site, Texas (Peopling of the Americas Publications): this one is specialized but may be useful considering the claims about lithic similarities made in the Stanford and Bradley book.
I’m sure there are other books by specialists that I have missed, and I’ll be happy to update.
UPDATE (2012-03-08): A reader writes with another suggestion:
- Gary Haynes (2003) The Early Settlement of North America: The Clovis Era
Another writes to note that the publicity for Across Atlantic Ice has been mostly generated by the Smithsonian, owing to Stanford’s position there, rather than University of California Press.