The Solutrean hypothesis, first proposed in 1998, is a controversial theory about the settlement of the Americas, which argues that Europeans, originating from the Solutrean culture on the Iberian Peninsula, were the first, or among the first, settlers of the Americas.
In its original form, the theory proposes that ice age Europeans could have crossed the North Atlantic along the edge of the pack ice that extended from the Atlantic coast of France to North America during the last glacial maximum. The model envisions these people making the crossing in small watercraft, using skills similar to those of the modern Inuit people, hauling out on ice floes at night, getting fresh water by melting iceberg ice or the first-frozen parts of sea ice, getting food by catching seals and fish, and using seal blubber as heating fuel.
Such theories typically also argue for a (later) migration by groups to the Americas from Asia, who became the Amerindians. "Whereas the Solutreans had only had a 4500 year long ‘Ice Age’ window to carry out their migratory activity, the Asian-originating Indians had some 15,000 years to do it. What’s more, the latter two-thirds of that 15 millennia long period was climatologically much more favourable and substantially larger numbers of Asians were therefore able to migrate. As a result of these factors the Solutrean (European originating) Native Americans were either partly absorbed by the newcomers or were substantially obliterated by them either physically or through competition for resources."
Supporters argue for archeological similarities between the Solutrean culture in prehistoric Europe and the Clovis culture in the Americas. Also genetic and linguistic evidence have been argued to support the theory.
Regardless, the theory has remained a minority view.
It should be noted that even if there is no evidence of ancient European ancestry in current Amerindians, then this does not necessarily disprove the theory, since the ancient European Solutreans may not necessarily have interbred to any significant degree with the ancient Amerindians.
A related discussion is about the "Clovis First" theory, the predominant hypothesis among archaeologists, according to which the people associated with the Clovis culture were the first inhabitants of the Americas.
Dual ancestry from Asia
Another argued possibility is that early West Eurasians and early East Asians both could have migrated to the Americas from Asia. Some recent genetic evidence has been argued to support this.
Such theories have been seen as having political implications, with some Amerindian tribes fearing that the theory that the continent's first arrivals originated in Europe might cast doubt on their origin stories and claims to rights.
- The Alternative Hypothesis: The Solutrean Hypothesis
- Stone Age Columbus - programme summary
- New evidence suggests Stone Age hunters from Europe discovered America
- New evidence suggests Stone Age hunters from Europe discovered America http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/new-evidence-suggests-stone-age-hunters-from-europe-discovered-america-7447152.html
- Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24256729