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The Upper Palaeolithic and the New World

E. F. Greenman
Current Anthropology
Vol. 4, No. 1 (Feb., 1963), pp. 41-91
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2739818
Page Count: 51
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The Upper Palaeolithic and the New World
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Abstract

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. There is also a close correspondance between the points of the Sandia culture of New Mexico and those of a Solutrean site at Montaut, southwest France; at least one heavily stylized pictograph in Lower California is directly descended from one specific painting at Castillo Cave, northwest Spain. Several other specific Southwestern traits are present in the St. Lawrence drainage, Newfoundland, and in the Upper Palaeolithic of the Biscayan region. A crossing of the North Atlantic in skin boats during the last glacial period was made possible by the presence of floating ice in the form of bergs, ice islands, and ice floes. There is solid evidence from the contents of sea-bottom cores, between Newfoundland and the European coast, of a great amount of gravel rafted by floating ice in Upper Palaeolithic times and Eskimo way of life was possible in this North Atlantic ice archipelago, independantly of bases on the European shores. This ice, coming from some 4,000 miles of coastline in Europe and North America, and the possession of a variety of boats in the Upper Palaeolithic of the coastal areas of southwest Europe have not heretofore been considered in connection with the earliest entry of man into the New World. The Bering Strait hypothesis is not discarded as a possible route of entry concurrently with that across the North Atlantic, but Bering Strait need not be considered until there is better evidence than the close proximity of Asia and North America, especially in the absence of bifacial blades from Siberia of an early enough time to be the source of those of the Early Man cultures in North America. The practise of giving a Siberian origin to any Alaskan feature that is duplicated in Siberia is faulty. The Direction of diffusion may usually have been from east to west. The Upper Palaeolithic cultures represented in North America appear to be the Solutrean and the Magdalenian minus its flint component. But certain animal petroglyphs in the upper St. Lawrence drainage show similarities to Aurignacian styles. The petroglyphs of all of North America show many correspondances to figures in Upper Palaeolithic caves. Fragments of French and Spanish animal figures seem to have been brought to the New World and carved or painted on rock surfaces. The petroglyphs of the New World represent a long tradition in which the most ancient figures were obliterated as others were carved or painted over them. Though some of the New World traits like the unique Beothuk canoe and on Eskimo-solutrean effigy cannot be shown to have been in North America previous to 1500 A.D., the literature of the folk rat and the fine art of the whole of Atlantic Europe fails to reveal anything suggesting an origin there at any time during or after the first Norse settlements in Greenland.

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