Solutrean hypothesis

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The Solutrean hypothesis is a minority opinion concerning the human settlement of North America. It holds, essentially, during the last ice age, anatomically modern humans from Europe crossed via an ice bridge or over open water to North America. They brought the Solutrean high hunting culture, with its characteristic and advanced stone tool set to North America, where it became known as the Clovis culture.

Further evidence for this is supposed to come from mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); one group, Haplogroup X, is found in large numbers in widely scattered populations, but its incidence is highest among Native Americans speaking Algonquian languages in northeastern North America; and also in Old World populations from the Middle East, where it is particularly common among the Druze community. Paternal haplogroup R1, also present in Algonquians, is most common in Europeans and western Asians today; however, during the time of the Solutreans, it was mostly limited to Siberia, and probably arrived in Europe with the Indo-European languages much later.

The hypothesis was first proposed in 1998, and is advocated by Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution and Bruce Bradley of the University of Exeter.[1][2]

Implausibility of hypothesis[edit]

Your record's still safe, Chris! (We'll just ignore those pesky Vikings…)
The distribution of the Solutrean culture in Europe (~20,000-15,000 years ago)

The Solutrean hypothesis is highly unlikely. The Solutrean culture peaked in southern France and the Iberian Peninsula; the contemporary populations of the Middle East were both genetically and culturally distinct. The mtDNA means only that the particular group was widely distributed at the time of the last glacial maximum, and as such is found in relatively small numbers across a large variety of human populations.[3]

The Solutrean ended by at least 16,500 years before the present; some relate its collapse to the mass extinction of much of the large game in Europe. It was replaced by the less specialized Magdalenian culture; while the toolset of the later culture represents several advances in craft, including the widespread adoption of bone as well as stone tools, it was not as specifically developed for the hunting of big game, whereas the characteristic spear points of the Solutrean were. The Solutrean culture was gone and had been succeeded by the Magdalenian in Europe at least 5,000 years before Clovis appeared. Clovis emerged around 11,500 years ago.

The Clovis culture resembles the Solutrean by cultural convergent evolution, as it too was a high hunting culture whose collapse also coincided with a megafauna extinction event.[4]

The Solutreans would have to cross three thousand miles of open ocean or Arctic pack ice to get to the Americas. Nothing we know about them says that they had that ability. Nothing that we know about them suggests that they would be motivated to develop it: the whole point of being a Solutrean (or Clovis) was living off big game.[5][6][note 1]

In 2014, DNA from a 12,500 year old infant of the Clovis culture was sequenced; the skeleton was found in association with Clovis artifacts. The DNA showed strong affinities to Paleolithic populations known from Siberia, in an area west of Lake Baikal, known as the Mal'ta-Buret' culture.Wikipedia The Clovis DNA also had strong affinities with contemporary Native Americans. No significant European ties were found, which makes the Solutrean hypothesis increasingly unlikely.[7]

Racist fantasy[edit]

The Solutrean hypothesis has won some following among white supremacist and other white racists such as Stormfront (which has various threads about this pseudoscience). It forms the premise of Kyle Bristow's pseudo-historical novel White Apocalypse;[8] he apparently wishes to make the point that the first settlers in the New World were Europeans rather than "Beringian" Asians. That the mtDNA evidence suggests that the real first claimants of North America live on as Arabic-speaking people in the Middle East is apparently not something the novel dwells on, either.[9][10] For that matter, nothing that we know about them suggests that the Solutreans were white, either, at least not in any sense that we would understand it.[note 2] Additionally, known Western European remains from the Pleistocene suggest that contemporary Europeans had dark skin.[11]

Our Author also spoils his ending with his title. He has the brave white Solutreans getting killed off by the savage Beringians, just like in the Book of Mormon. This isn't the Solutrean hypothesis; the hypothesis actually says that the Solutreans survived and founded the Algonquian-speaking peoples. Considering that the entire point of white supremacists taking up the Solutrean cause is to claim that modern native Americans are intentionally covering up an act of organized genocide, they basically haven't got a leg to stand on, scientifically or historically. There is also the unanswered question: if one group did in fact cross the Atlantic and died out, why exactly should modern people - either those for or against the hypothesis - be outraged over what would be at most a historical oddity?[note 3]

This racist fantasy is generally also used as a means of downplaying or outright denying the genocide of the Native American population, which kind of tells you a lot.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. It must have rocked to be a Solutrean. You get to hunt mammoths and rhinos with spears. Leaving aside that your medical care's a witch doctor,Wikipedia your internet's stuck at 300 baud, and the only porn around is fat chicks with toques pulled over their heads.
  2. There are pockets of people around Europe and western Asia that could plausibly be described as "genetic cavemen" — one schoolteacher in the UK can trace his genetic lineage back 9000 years in the same geographic area, and the Basques at the very least predate the Iberian Celts and may have roots in the area going back to the Ice Age — but that doesn't necessarily make them Solutrean descendants per se.
  3. Because white power needs to be defended from more powerful brown people, and also something about Jews probably. Duh. Say, has anyone checked the shell middens on Georges Bank for pig bones? Because if they're not there…


  1. "The North Atlantic ice-edge corridor: a possible Palaeolithic route to the New World" by Dennis Stanford & Bruce Bradley (2004) World Archaeology 36(4):459–478.
  2. Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America's Clovis Culture by Dennis Stanford & Bruce Bradley (2018) University of California Press. ISBN 0520275780.
  3. U. Perego et al., "Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare mtDNA Haplogroups", Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 1, (13 January 2009), Pages 1-8.
  4. Martin P. S. (1989). "Prehistoric overkill: A global model." In Quaternary extinctions: A prehistoric revolution (ed. P.S. Martin and R.G. Klein). (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press; ISBN 0816511004) pp. 354–404.
  5. Straus, Lawrence G. (2000). "Solutrean Settlement of North America? A Review of Reality". American Antiquity 65 (2): 219–226
  6. Westley, Kieran and Justin Dix (2008). "The Solutrean Atlantic Hypothesis: A View from the Ocean". Journal of the North Atlantic 1: 85–98.
  7. 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. 
  8. (Self-published, 2010; ISBN 1453768475)
  9. Nelson, Leah: Amazon Often Rejects Porn But Helps White Racists Publish Books (Southern Poverty Law Center, Mar. 21, 2011)
  10. Racists and Pseudo-History: The Solutrean Hypothesis, Anti-Racist Canada
  11. Gibbens, Sarah, Britain's Dark-Skinned, Blue-Eyed Ancestor Explained, National Geographic, Feb. 2018.