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← New evidence suggests Stone Age hunters from Europe discovered America

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Jonathan Dore

Comment 6, Alan4Discussion:

... the concept of crossing the Atlantic along the edge of the ice while living an Inuit type life-style is quite plausible.

This has always been my main problem with the hypothesis, since when you think about it carefully it's very hard to see that it is plausible. The distance to be covered (say a minimum of 1,500 miles) would have required several generations to accomplish assuming a normal pattern of hunter migration following food resources. They might have done it in just a few years if they were deliberately setting out to go to America, and thus spending most of their time travelling -- but that would have required them to know America was there for them to aim at before they set out. How could they? As far as they knew, they would simply have been getting further and further from the only land they knew (i.e. Europe).

But even imagining that there was some way for them to know that there was a continental landmass worth aiming for at the other end, it would mean the Solutreans would have to have something we otherwise have no other example of in human history: an entirely marine culture in which people would be born, live, and die without ever sighting dry land (think Waterworld). The Inuit do some of their hunting on land-fast ice, and some in boats along the continental margins; pelagic hunting, with long periods out of sight of land, is unknown to them. The Polynesians certainly sailed great distances across the deep ocean, but these voyages were a matter of months, at most, and were always directed at finding the next point of land. Projecting hunting and boat-building technologies back to the period in question, it's just about possible to imagine they would have had the technology to pull it off. What's much harder to imagine is any society that is psychologically willing to live for years at a time, possibly whole lifetimes, out of sight of land. Nothing in our ancestry would have prepared us for that -- and tellingly, nothing like it has emerged anywhere in the world since then that we know of, even in much more hospitable climates and latitudes than the North Atlantic in an Ice Age.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:42:44 UTC | #922784