The Palaeolithic culture of the Americas is known as the the Clovis culture. It was the Clovis folk who shared the New World with the mammoth, mastodon, and the other megafauna of the Pleistocene - creatures they hunted and were sometimes hunted by. The Clovis people, like their contemporaries in Western Europe, were a gifted and ingenious group. The tools and weapons they crafted, from flint and other materials, were of the highest quality, and their artwork, whilst not quite in the same league as the wonderful creations of the Magdalenian people of Western Europe, was nonetheless impressive. Even more impressive was the fact that the Clovis people seem, in some fields, to have surpassed their European contemporaries; for it is now known that they created fine quality pottery vessels and wove fabrics into cloth.
From the very beginning, America's Palaeolithic population generated controversy. This was due to the striking parallels observed between the contemporary cultures of America and Europe. As early as 1881 archaeologists such as C. C. Abbott, H. W. Haynes and G. F. Wright were suggesting a close link between the Old Stone Age of America and that of Europe. (See eg. Abbott, Haynes and Wright, The Palaeolothic Implements of the Valley of the Delaware (1881))
Although Abbott and co's arguments were generally overlooked by mainstream academics, the discoveries they made were real enough and the questions did not go away. Thus W. H. Holmes, although rejecting Abbott's theory of European settlement in America, included Europeans in his 1912 multiple waves theory to account for numerous shared cultural traits. (See Holmes, B. Willis, F. E. Wright, and C. N. Fenner, "Early Man in South America," Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 52 (1912)) N. C. Nelson, curator of Prehistoric Archaeology and the American Museum of Natural History, specifically linked the European Solutrean (Palaeolithic) culture with the American Palaeolithic in 1919.
During the late 1930s Frank Hibben found a series of spear points of Palaeolithic age in a celebrated cave north-east of Albuquerque, and recognized their striking relationship with Solutrean points in the collection of Grant MacCurdy, but could not "bridge Asiatic gaps of awe-inspiring magnitude." (Hibben believed the European influences to have reached the Americas via the Bering Strait and could not even contemplate the idea that they had reached the Americas by way of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet neither could he explain Europeans travelling thousands of miles across Asia and Siberia without leaving any trace in those regions). In 1952 John Witthoft saw a series of fluted points excavated from eleven hunting camps in western New York and eastern Pennsylvania as representatives of European Upper Palaeolithic blade industry.
In 1963 British anthropologist E. F. Greenman took the debate a stage further in an article for Current Anthropology, where he proposed a route why which the European influences could have reached North America. During the Pleistocene, he theorized, the North Atlantic may have been largely frozen, and European hunters could have "hopped" across the ocean from ice-floe to ice-floe in kayak-like canoes. The tone of his article was pedestrian, merely reiterating what archaeologists had noted again and again over the previous century:
"There are many trait parallels between the Upper Palaeolithic of southwestern Europe and North America. They are present in the latter in four main areas: that of the Eskimo culture, Newfoundland, the St. Lawrence drainage and the Greater Southwest. Among the more important North American parallels are certain boats and house-types, bone pendants, design motifs, and representations of animals. These resemble paintings in Upper Palaeolithic caves or actual objects from Upper Palaeolithic sites in the Biscayan area and farther north, as well as in two caves on the southeast coast of Spain." (Greenman, "The Upper Paleolithic and the New World," Current Anthropology, 4 (1963))
Greenman's idea of Palaeolithic influences crossing an iceberg-strewn North Atlantic did not convince, and though his work caused some comment during the 1960s, it was not until the latter 1990s that the debate was reignited.
The trigger for that reignition was the fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of Russian scientific and academic literature to Western specialists. Whilst striking parallels between the European and American Palaeolithic had long been accepted, it was generally assumed that the Palaeolithic culture of eastern Siberia - the presumed ancestral homeland of all the ancient inhabitants of the Americas - would likewise display strong parallels with the American Palaeolithic. Astonishingly however, this was not the case. Instead of the elegantly wrought bifacial blades characteristic of the Clovis culture, the peoples of Siberia at that time created tools and weapons from microliths, small flint blades, sharpened at one side, and glued side by side onto bone or ivory shafts in order to create working tools or weapons. So great was the contrast with America that two of the most prominent specialists in the field, Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley, nailed their colours to the mast and declared that the Clovis culture must have had its origin in the Solutrean culture of Europe. This idea, known as the Solutrean hypothesis, presupposes that the Palaeolithic folk of Western Europe must have had some seafaring abilities, though Stanford and Bradley stress that the Atlantic Ocean was considerably smaller in Palaeolithic times (the oceans were shallower by 120 metres) and that, just as Greenman claimed in the 1960s, the Europeans could have been helped across the ocean by ice-floes in the North Atlantic.
The one feature common to both Solutrean and Clovis blades, and shared by no others in the world, is that they were prepared using what is known as the outrepasse technique. This method requires a great deal of skill and can easily result in a broken and ruined blade. If successful, however, it produces and a thin and elegant weapon or tool. The occurrence of outrepasse work on the Clovis and Solutrean points was perhaps the feature which most convinced Stanford and Bradley of the necessity of an ancient transatlantic link.
It was just in the 1990s that yet another scientific discipline entered the debate: that of DNA analysis. In 1998 a team of geneticists, led by Michael D. Brown of Emory University, published an article in the American Journal of Human Genetics. The article, entitled, "mtDNA Haplogroup X: An Ancient Link between Europe/Western Asia and North America?", made a sensational assertion which created a storm of controversy that has not yet abated. In it, Brown and his associates claimed that, whilst the great majority of Native American mitochondrial DNA (DNA inherited from the mother) subtypes can be traced to Siberia, a small group, designated Haplogroup X, cannot be so traced. Haplogroup X, it was found, is present in western Eurasia and Mediterranean North Africa, as well as in various Native American groups - especially those of north-eastern Canada and the United States - and nowhere else in the world.
In some groups of the American northeast, such as the Ojibwa, Haplogroup X was present in 25% of the population.
To say that scientists were surprised by this finding is almost an understatement. It went against all they had expected and all they had been led to believe about the histories of the Old and New Worlds. As might be expected, Brown's paper met with skepticism amongst the wider academic community, which tends to be notoriously resistent to radically new ideas. In time, it was suggested that the X group reached the New World from western Siberia, where the X-gene was also found in an Indo-European people named the Tocharians (a Scythian group). However, the Tocharians' presence in Siberia can only be dated from the Bronze Age - long after the end of the Pleistocene, and there is no evidence that they penetrated any further east than the Altai Mountains, in the north-east of Kazakstan. This is about four thousand miles distant from the Bering Strait.
Since the 1990s, it has emerged that another typically west Eurasian DNA group, R1b, is also present in the native populations of the Americas, and, once again, most prevalent in the peoples of north-east North America. Once again, R1b is absent from present-day Siberian populations.
The apparent confluence of the archaeological and the DNA evidence convinced some of the more enthusiastic supporters of the 'Solutrean Hypothesis' that the creators of the Clovis culture were indeed immigrants from Europe, and that these Solutrean settlers reached the Americas before Asiatic groups from Siberia crossed the Bering Strait, or Bering Land Bridge, as it then was. However, it has now become clear that this cannot be the case. Two new pieces of evidence have recently emerged which make such an interpretation impossible. Firstly, it has become clear that human beings existed in the Americas before the Clovis period, and it has become equally clear that some at least of these people came from eastern Asia. Thus for example a series of smallish spear-points from west coast North America, and predating the Clovis culture, look exactly like spear points used in Japan and the Aleutian Islands during the Pleistocene. Secondly, and even more importantly, DNA results from several Clovis skeletons have now been obtained, and it is clear that the Clovis folk were genetically almost identical to modern North American Indians. Importantly, however, these also contained the typically "European" genetic markers, such as haplogroup X and R1b, already identified in modern Native Americans. This was the case, for example, in the Windover burials from Florida and Kennewick Man from Oregon, and proves conclusively that these "European" genes were not the result of recent intermarriage with Europeans (as had been argued).
Where then does all this leave us? Taking everything into consideration it would appear that there was some transatlantic contact between Europe and North America during the Pleistocene, and that small groups of European hunters/explorers brought their unique culture and technology to the region. However, they did not enter a completely uninhabited continent. Groups of east Asians had already crossed the Bering Land Bridge. In time, the two groups intermingled, and the advanced flint-knapping techniques of the Solutreans were adapted and evolved into the Clovis culture, a culture which then spread throughout the entire continent.
The European element was there, but it was very much a minority element in the general population of North America, a situation still evidenced in the DNA makeup of modern Native Americans. This explains the blond hair and blue eyes reported amongst some Native American groups from the very earliest times by European travellers - and it should be noted that the groups most associated with "whiteness", such as the Mandan and the Ojibwa, are the very groups showing the highest concentrations of European DNA, the X haplogroup and R1b.
But how then did Palaeolithic Europeans make it across the North Atlantic?
First and foremost, it should be noted that the Atlantic was a good deal smaller than now. Sea levels were around 400 feet lower. The Grand Banks off Newfoundland was then part of the American continent, whilst the British Isles were part of Europe. This is accepted by mainstream academia, which however claims that the lower sea-level was due to an "Ice Age" which trapped a colossal amount of the earth's water as ice in the Polar regions. As a student of Velikovsky, I reject this notion, and hold that the extra water precipitated in the earth's atmosphere during the cataclysm which terminated the Pleistocene. Hydrogen from the tail of the Great Comet combined (in the midst of electrical discharges) with oxygen in the earth's atmosphere and fell as rain. But the Comet also unleashed terrific seismic forces throughout the planet, and the world's tectonic plates went into convulsions. In some regions, mountains rose hundreds or even thousands of feet, in others landmasses sank into the depths of the ocean. This was the case for example in the middle of the Atlantic, where evidence shows that the now submerged Mid-Atlantic Ridge was then an above sea-level mountain range that ran down the middle of the ocean. If this was the case, Solutrean hunters/fishers (who employed barbed harpoons and portrayed deep sea fish in their art) could easily have reached the eastern coasts of North America.
The true and frankly astonishing history of our planet is only now beginning to emerge.