did the Clovis people come from? Dennis Stanford believes
some may have come from the Solutrean people in Europe.
years it was believed that Clovis people came through Alaska using
a land bridge from Siberia, then traveled south just as ice sheets
across Canada were breaking up. So archeologists have long looked
for signs of Clovis people in Alaska.
1989, road builders in Alaska's Tanana River valley accidentally
uncovered a site called Broken Mammoth. With artifacts dating back
14,000 years, it was the oldest site in Alaska-but it held no Clovis
points. Later, another nearby site yielded artifacts a few hundred
years older, but still no Clovis points. It did, however, contain
microblades and scrapers typical of Siberian and Russian sites going
back more than 20,000 years.
For Alaska state archeologist Chuck Holmes these findings suggest
that early Alaskans weren't the predecessors to Clovis. And he's
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.
technology-including bifacial points and a spear shaft wrench made
of mammoth bone-and cultural traits suggest the two are related.
But, as Stanford explains to Alan, there are two problems with this
theory. First, the Solutrean culture is 5,000 years older than Clovis.
Second, how did the Solutreans cross the Atlantic Ocean to get to
in Virginia called Cactus Hill may hold some of the answers. Artifacts
found there have been dated at 18,000 years-too early for Clovis,
but just right for Solutrean. Stanford believes a fossil walrus
jaw found in the nearby Chesapeake could suggest how the Solutreans
made their way to North America. Ice-loving walrus could only have
reached the Chesapeake during the height of the last Ice Age, around
15,000-20,000 years ago. Stanford says that's when the Solutreans
got here, and they did it by bringing their boats along the ice
edge which stretched across the ocean at the time.