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No. 131: SEP-OCT 2000

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Clovis Police are Back in Action

Just because you read a lot in Science Frontiers about pre-Clovis sites (those New World digs asserted to be older than 12,000 years), do not imagine that all archeologists embrace these claims. For example, a recent issue of Discovering Archeology debunked them at great length and rather testily to boot. This broadside was followed by a devastating review of T.D. Dillehay's The Settlement of the Americas: A New Prehistory in the magazine Natural History.

The reviewer for Natural History, A.C. Roosevelt, a respected anthropologist at the University of Illinois, targets the Cactus Hill site, in Virginia (SF#130). This dig, she says, is characterized by "inconsistent dates, vague stratigraphy, and inadequate artifact samples that disqualify them from scientific acceptance." Even Dillehay's monumental work at Monte Verde, Chile, does not survive the review unscathed. In fact, the claimed pre-Clovis sites, according to Roosevelt, do not yield sound, consistent radiocarbon dates earlier than 11,500 B.P. She will, however, entertain Bering Strait crossings as early as 12,000 B.P., but not a microsecond earlier.

(Roosevelt, Anna Curtenius; "Who's on First?" Natural History, 109:76, July-August 2000.)

Continuing the assault on pre-Clovis thought is L.G. Strauss, an anthropologist from the University of New Mexico. His target is the theory that the Solutrean people of southern France and the Iberian Peninsula reached eastern North America before the Clovis culture took hold on the continent. (SF#127) His ammunition comes in four calibers:

  • The Solutrean culture in Europe ended circa 16,500-18,000 B.P., some 5,000+ years before Clovis. Too early.
  • Iberia and North America are separated by 5,000 kilometers of ocean. Too wide.
  • Genuine Solutrean artifacts differ markedly from those at claimed pre-Clovis sites. Too disparate.
  • There is no evidence that the Soluteans possessed adequate marine technology and experience. Too unreasonable.

(Strauss, Lawrence Guy; "Solutrean Settlement of North America? A Review of Reality," American Antiquity, 65:219, 2000.)

From Science Frontiers #131, SEP-OCT 2000. � 2000 William R. Corliss

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