Solutrean

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Solutrean tools, 22,000–17,000 BP, Crôt du Charnier, Solutré-Pouilly, Saône-et-Loire, France
Homo Sapiens in Europe: Solutrean distribution map (blue dots are the principal areas of Solutrean industry)
The Solutrean toolkit includes the world's earliest identifiable sewing needles.

The Solutrean industry is a relatively advanced flint tool-making style of the Upper Palaeolithic, from around 22,000 to 17,000 BP.

Details[edit]

"Solutrean" is named after the type-site of Crôt du Charnier at Solutré in the Mâcon district, Saône-et-Loire, eastern France, and appeared around 21,000 BP. The Solutré site was discovered in 1866 by the French geologist and paleontologist Henry Testot-Ferry (second son of Napoleon's famous cavalryman, General Claude Testot-Ferry, Baron of the Empire). It is now preserved as the Parc archéologique et botanique de Solutré.

The industry was named by Gabriel de Mortillet to describe the second stage of his system of cave chronology, following the Mousterian, and he considered it synchronous with the third division of the Quaternary period. The era's finds include tools, ornamental beads, and bone pins as well as prehistoric art.

Solutrean tool-making employed techniques not seen before and not rediscovered for millennia. The Solutrean has relatively finely worked, bifacial points made with lithic reduction percussion and pressure flaking rather than cruder flintknapping. Knapping was done using antler batons, hardwood batons and soft stone hammers. This method permitted the working of delicate slivers of flint to make light projectiles and even elaborate barbed and tanged arrowheads. Large thin spear-heads; scrapers with edge not on the side but on the end; flint knives and saws, but all still chipped, not ground or polished; long spear-points, with tang and shoulder on one side only, are also characteristic implements of this industry. Bone and antler were used as well.

The Solutrean may be seen as a transitory stage between the flint implements of the Mousterian and the bone implements of the Magdalenian epochs. Faunal finds include horse, reindeer, mammoth, cave lion, rhinoceros, bear and aurochs. Solutrean finds have been also made in the caves of Les Eyzies and Laugerie Haute, and in the Lower Beds of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire, England. The industry first appeared in what is now Spain, and disappears from the archaeological record around 17,000 BP.

Solutrean hypothesis in North American archaeology[edit]

The Solutrean hypothesis builds on similarities between the Solutrean industry and the later Clovis culture / Clovis points of North America, and suggests that people with Solutrean tool-technology crossed the Ice Age Atlantic by moving along the pack ice edge, using survival skills similar to those of modern Eskimo people. The migrants arrived in northeastern North America and served as the donor culture for what eventually developed into Clovis tool-making technology. Archaeologists Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley suggest that the Clovis point derived from the points of the Solutrean culture of southern France (19,000 BP) through the Cactus Hill points of Virginia (16,000 BP) to the Clovis point.[1][2] This would mean that people would have had to move from the Bay of Biscay across the edge of the Atlantic ice sheet to North America. Supporters of this hypothesis believe it would have been feasible using traditional Eskimo techniques still in use today,[1] while others argue that the conditions at the time would have made such a journey unlikely.[3]

The idea of a Clovis-Solutrean link remains controversial and does not enjoy wide acceptance. The hypothesis is challenged by large gaps in time between the Clovis and Solutrean eras, a lack of evidence of Solutrean seafaring, lack of specific Solutrean features in Clovis technology, and other issues.

In 2014, the autosomal DNA of a 12,500+-year-old infant from Montana was sequenced.[4] The DNA was taken from a skeleton referred to as Anzick-1, found in close association with several Clovis artifacts. Comparisons showed strong affinities with DNA from Siberian sites, and virtually ruled out any close affinity with European sources (the so-called "Solutrean hypothesis"). The DNA also showed strong affinities with all existing Native American populations, which indicated that all of them derive from an ancient population that lived in or near Siberia, the Upper Palaeolithic Mal'ta population.[5]

See also[edit]

Preceded by
Gravettian
Solutrean
22,000–17,000 BP
Succeeded by
Magdalenian
The Paleolithic

before Homo (Pliocene)

Lower Paleolithic (c. 2.6 Ma–300 ka)

Oldowan (2.6–1.8 Ma)
Acheulean (1.7–0.1 Ma)
Clactonian (0.3–0.2 Ma)

Middle Paleolithic (300–30 ka)

Mousterian (300–30 ka)
Aterian (82 ka)

Upper Paleolithic (50–10 ka)

Baradostian (36 ka)
Châtelperronian (35–29 ka)
Aurignacian (32–26 ka)
Gravettian (28–22 ka)
Solutrean (21–17 ka)
Magdalenian (18–10 ka)
Hamburg (15 ka)
Ahrensburg (13 ka)
Swiderian (10 ka)
Mesolithic
Stone Age

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Stone Age Columbus – programme summary". BBC. March 2004. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  2. ^ The North Atlantic ice-edge corridor: a possible Palaeolithic route to the New World. Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford. World Archaeology 2004 Vol. 36(4): 459 – 478.
  3. ^ Westley, Kieran; Justin Dix "The Solutrean Atlantic Hypothesis: A View from the Ocean" Journal of the North Atlantic 2008 1:85–98
  4. ^ Rasmussen M, Anzick SL, et al. (2014). "The genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in western Montana". Nature 506: 225–229. doi:10.1038/nature13025. 
  5. ^ "Ancient American's genome mapped". BBC News. 2014-02-14. 

External links[edit]