Fringe history believers have long used the Solutrean claim as evidence for European primacy in the Americas, a belief that stretches back at least as far as the lost white race of Mound Builders the first European colonists imagined had been killed off by bloodthirsty Natives. As Scott Wolter told it on America Unearthed, the Solutrean hypothesis explains that white Europeans were the first Americans, long before Native Americans crossed over from Asia. White supremacists like John de Nugent, Kyle Bristow, and radio host Frank from Queens have gone still farther and proposed on these grounds that America was once a white cultural homeland, possibly the Garden of Eden, before “Beringians”—i.e., non-white Native Americans—crossed over and killed them all in a violent race war. As de Nugent put it:
The enemy of truth has a big problem with the issue of the Solutrean whites being here first and then the red man genociding him, for the whole story is didactic and instructive for white people today. It is the story of the first whites to build a great culture, and how they were crushed and died in slavery and agony after they became a minority in their own country.
Here’s Andy White’s blog post on the findings.
This is just one of several new challenges to fringe history’s view of the Solutrean invasion, and indeed to the Solutrean hypothesis itself. According to Dennis Stanford’s and Bruce Bradley’s 2012 book Across Atlantic Ice, the single most compelling artifact in support of the Solutrean hypothesis is the Cinmar blade, a stone tool dredged up from the ocean off Virginia in the 1970s by the trawler Cinmar along with a mastodon bone. Operating under the assumption that the two artifacts were associated with one another, carbon dating of the mastodon bone to around 25,000 BCE implied that the Cinmar blade was the oldest stone tool ever found in the Americas and therefore important evidence connecting New World stone tools to Solutrean tools made around the same time.
Critics have long complained that there is no evidence that the two artifacts were associated with one another and not, for example, the coincidental catch of the dredging from different layers or deposits. But a new article in the Journal of Archaeological Science has added fuel to the critic’s fiery complaints by uncovering discrepancies and apparent problems with the story of the fishing trawler that accidentally overturned history. According to the article by Metin I. Eren, Matthew T. Boulanger, and Michael J. O’Brien, nearly all of the facts presented by Stanford and Bradley are wrong:
- CLAIM: The Cinmar artifacts were on display at the Gwynn’s Island Museum since the 1970s, according to Jeanne Tanner, the director of the museum, who claims to have personally placed them on display.
- FACT: The museum wasn’t founded until 1991 and the room where they were supposedly deposited didn’t open until 1997. The Cinmar artifacts arrived at the museum in 2002, only after Stanford and Bradley proposed their Solutrean hypothesis, on loan from an artifact collector.
- CLAIM: The location where the artifacts were discovered is known.
- FACT: There is no contemporary documentary evidence of the dredging. All knowledge of the event came from the captain of the ship, in an interview 40 years after the event and just before his death.
- CLAIM: The Cin-Mar (or Cinmar), the ship that dredged up the material, was a small wooden trawler from the 1950s whose tiny size meant that the mastodon bone and stone tool must have been gathered from locations close by each other.
- FACT: The Cin-Mar was built in 1963 and was the largest wooden trawler in the region. The photograph Stanford and Bradley use is not of this ship, and they refused to cooperate with Eren et al. in determining the origins of their photograph.
Jennifer Raff has a terrific breakdown of the article and its implications here. The long and short of it is that it is now much more difficult to accept the claim at face value, or the value of the artifacts for determining anything about Solutrean involvement in the Americas.