This announcement might upset some apple carts.
Actually, the idea that some of the early settlers of North America might have come from Europe as well as Asia has been kicking around for a while.
Now the claim is made that based on analyses of stone tools, they were first.
The similarity between other later east coast US and European Stone Age stone tool technologies has been noted before. But all the US European-style tools, unearthed before the discovery or dating of the recently found or dated US east coast sites, were from around 15,000 years ago – long after Stone Age Europeans (the Solutrean cultures of France and Iberia) had ceased making such artefacts. Most archaeologists had therefore rejected any possibility of a connection. But the newly-discovered and recently-dated early Maryland and other US east coast Stone Age tools are from between 26,000 and 19,000 years ago – and are therefore contemporary with the virtually identical western European material.
What’s more, chemical analysis carried out last year on a European-style stone knife found in Virginia back in 1971 revealed that it was made of French-originating flint.
An archaeologist whom I know adds, “I’ve met [Stanford and Bradley] both, they are not crackpots.”
Based on what I understand about DNA evidence, however, the bulk of the people who first settled the Americas must still have come from Asia. After all, they could have walked across the tundra on the Ice Age land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. Hence:
As a result of these [geographical and travel] factors the Solutrean (European originating) Native Americans were either partly absorbed by the newcomers or were substantially obliterated by them either physically or through competition for resources.
3 thoughts on “Ancient Europeans Were First to North America?”
I find this more interesting (and troubling) because of our social application of research than for what it suggests about ancient prehistory. The implication is that telling a story about “Europeans” being “first” to the North American continent creates meaning somehow that has resulted in a flurry of press interest. What meaning might that be? Is it just that we are interested in milestones like “first” and “oldest,” or that important discoveries in academia make headlines? I don’t think so. Take a look at this:
“Although Solutrean Europeans may well have been the first Americans, they had a major disadvantage compared to the Asian-originating Indians who entered the New World via the Bering Straits”
Notice, if we pare that down, “Europeans may well have been the first Americans” […] “compared to Asian-originating Indians[.]” The words “American” and “Indian” have no relevance in a discussion of Ice Age humanity, except if that discussion is being used implicitly as a narrative within a contemporary understanding of colonialism and race.
Native Americans would have still become “Indians” even if their ancient forebears had originated from an Atlantic crossing.
I somehow missed the phrase “entering the New World” in that quote the first time through. That sort of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
It is safe to say that archaeology is frequently used in the service of political agendas. Chinese emperors used (or forged) relics of previous dynasties to cement their own claims. A medieval abbot of Glastonbury claimed to have found the grave of King Arthur, which would guarantee increased important of and pilgrimage to the abbey. Or see all the quarrels over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Your comment that the “discussion is being used implicitly as a narrative within a contemporary understanding of colonialism and race,” is true, and it is completely what I expect will happen.
Even my dear wife, who bears a French surname, is already saying “We were here first!” — humorously, because she knows that “France” has nothing to do with Ice Age Europe.
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