Alternate Perceptions Magazine, August 2018
Origin of the Clovis Culture Takes an Unexpected Turn
by: Dr. Greg Little
Ancient America’s Clovis Culture has long been assumed to have arrived in America around 11,500 years ago. Wikipedia makes the unsubstantiated claim that they are “the ancestors of the most indigenous cultures of the Americas.” From the 1930s until around 1997 people bearing the Clovis Culture were considered to be the first human populations in the Americas. According to that widely held idea the first of the Clovis people and those who followed them all migrated to the Americas from Siberia at the end of the last Ice Age across the exposed land bridge (Beringia) connecting Siberia with Alaska. They moved south through a narrow “Ice-Free” corridor that has long been verified. They supposedly quickly populated North America. That idea was called the “Clovis-First” Theory and it collapsed in 1997 with an enormous mountain of evidence quickly following showing that Clovis wasn’t “first”—and the Clovis culture was probably predated by migrations many thousands of years earlier. While there are still some holdouts in archaeology asserting Clovis-First is still correct, the majority of American archaeologists accept that Clovis wasn’t first nor even close to being first in the Americas. However, it was still asserted and accepted that people with the Clovis stone working technology came from Siberian Asia at the end of the Ice Age. But not everyone accepts Clovis came from Siberia. The Solutrean Theory—the idea that the Solutrean people of the Iberian Peninsula, who existed some 16,000 years ago—were the source of America’s Clovis Culture, has challenged the Siberian-origin theory. But the Solutrean hypothesis is far from being widely accepted.
One fact that has long befuddled the Clovis-from-Siberia proponents is the distribution of Clovis points that have been discovered on the North American continent. Clovis points are heavily concentrated in the eastern half of America with fewer discoveries of them as you move to the west. Very few Clovis points have been found in the northwest and the number is very scant in Alaska, where the ice-free corridor existed. This corridor is the precise area where the Clovis people supposedly made their migration into the Americas. Last, and perhaps most importantly, Clovis artifacts have never been found in Siberia.
In April 2018, two archaeologists (Heather Smith and Ted Goebel) published “Origins and spread of fluted-point technology in the Canadian Ice-Free Corridor and eastern Beringia” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They evaluated the ages of the Clovis points found in America. What they found is simple and profound. As one moves further to the north, and further up the Ice-Free corridor, the Clovis points that are found there are more recent than those found further to the south and east. They surmise that rather than coming from the north as has long been presumed by the mainstream archaeological community, the Clovis People moved to the north from the middle of North America. What this suggests is that Clovis was developed by the people already present in America or that the culture came into America from a completely different direction or way not generally accepted. The Clovis people seem to have explored the Ice-Free corridor starting in the south and moving to the north. In a non-intended way, it supports the Solutrean hypothesis.