"We...were here first!"
The Solutrean theory proposes that stone tool technology of the Solutrean culture in prehistoric Europe may have later influenced the development of the Clovis tool-making culture in the Americas, and that peoples from Europe may have been among the earliest settlers in the Americas.It was first proposed in 1998. Its key proponents include Dennis Stanford (The Father of Solutrea), of the Smithsonian Institution, and Bruce Bradley, of the University of Exeter.
Solutrean culture was dominant in present-day France and Spain from roughly 21,000 to 17,000 years ago. It was known for its distinctive toolmaking characterized by bifacial, pressure-flaked points. Traces of the Solutrean tool-making industry disappear completely from Europe around 15,000 years ago, when it was replaced by the less complex stone tools of the Magdalenian culture.
Clovis tools are typified by a distinctive rock spear point, known as the Clovis point. Solutrean and Clovis points share common characteristics: points are thin and bifacial, and they share the intentional use of the overshot flaking technique, which quickly reduces the thickness of a biface.
The Clovis blade differs from its predecessor in that it has bi-facial fluting (a long depression that occurs on a point, which is caused by knapping at the basal end of the point; the purpose was to fit the point onto a spear foreshaft). Clovis tool-making technology seems to appear in the archaeological record in North America roughly 13,500 years ago, and similar predecessors in Asia or Alaska, if they exist, have not been discovered.
The theory proposes that Ice Age Europeans crossed the North Atlantic along the edge of the pack ice that extended from the Atlantic coast of France to North America during the last glacial maximum. The model envisions these people making the crossing in small watercraft, using skills similar to those of the modern Inuit people, hauling out on ice floes at night, getting fresh water by melting iceberg ice or the first-frozen parts of sea ice, getting food by catching seals and fish, and using seal blubber as heating fuel. Among other evidence backing up this theory is the discovery among the Solutrean toolkit of bone needles, very similar to those traditionally used by the modern-day Inuit. As well as enabling the manufacture of waterproof clothing from animal skins, the technology could, in theory, have been used to construct kayaks from the same animal skins.
The stone tools found at Cactus Hill (an early American site in Virginia) indicate a transitional style between the Clovis and Solutrean cultures. Artifacts from this site are estimated to date from 17,000 to 15,000 years ago. Other sites that may indicate transitional, pre-Clovis occupation include the Page-Ladson site in Florida and the Meadowcroft rockshelter in Pennsylvania.