Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rant Revisited

Which should be titled "Settlement, Clovis Points, and Kiss My Ass", but it doesn't fit in the subject line so well.

Last night I turned on a documentary about the Nazca Lines. I should know better than to do this, at least not without Shoveling Ferret on Twitter with me to talk me down from the ledge. They started on the bullshit "Ice Corridor" settlement of the Americas (which I have ranted about in the past, HERE), and I started yelling at the TV. It went something along the lines of "Ice corridor, my ass!" and the Goob started making pitiful noises 'cause I scared the crap out of her and she thought I was yelling at her.

Then I yelled some more, scared her again, and we eventually changed the channel.

Since, apparently, I still have strong feelings on this subject, you're stuck with it. (Sometimes I think of my blog as my rant collection.)

Right. Meet the Clovis Point:
(Pic from National Geographic web site.)

The first big fuckup of the ice corridor settlement theory is, that everywhere the Clovis points were found, were settled by the same group of people. I do not fucking get this. Like no one in human society ever steals someone's ideas or technology? No one ever TRADES? These are great points, and probably needed to take down something like a wooly mammoth (which N America did have, 'til we ate them all). Anyone who hunted big game would want some of these, so yeah, hello, major trade item.

Second thing? This ice corridor?
(Pic from Wikipedia.)

There's no evidence it ever existed. In fact, considering where the Canadian Rockies are?
(Also from Wiki)
Considering there are STILL glaciers up in those mountains? Yeah. Highly unlikely. HIGHLY. As in, Ice Corridor, My Ass. The few artifacts found in Alberta have been declared PRE glacial by some geologists, as in, even more thousands of years earlier than the Clovis people showed up. Sure, people got to the Americas, and moved around within them, both before and after the glaciers were solid across N America. But DURING? No. Just no.

Third? There are a shitload of sites that pre-date the Clovis people, ALL OVER. Including the Topper Site, which dates to 37k years before Clovis, all the way across the country. And of course, the iconic Monte Verde, most of the way to the bottom of South America, pre dates Clovis by a thousand years and also shows that people were spread out way further than any spear points were. When the carbon dating first came back from Monte Verde, archaeologists practically had gun fights, because some of them were so determined to cling to their nice, neat, inaccurate settlement theories.

The claim that stone age peoples could not cross the Pacific? Ha. Polynesians. Kiss my ass. (Also? If they were just coming along the coast, that's a whole different level of easy, from crossing the open ocean. You could follow the coast in simple rafts, most of the way.)

What complicates this whole damn thing is sea level. During the ice age, sea levels were as much as two hundred feet lower than they are now. So if people had settled along the coasts first, at the height (depth?) of the ice age, the sites are all flooded now. Woods Hole went looking and found a few sites a while back with ALVIN, though damn if I can find the info now. Still, even with new technology, finding those super early sites takes a lot of screwing around and it's easier to go excavate a cave somewhere.

That concludes today's swearing. Tomorrow is another day, and I might live-blog the Oscars red carpet, though. You've been warned.


anne said...

Don't know much American history, but what you say seems very sensible. In Europe there was a lot of trading - and it shows up in England with flint arrow heads found miles away from any flint, for example. I'm not that good on British history that early either, btw!

katrina said...

Good Lord, you're awesome. Personally, I have a fondness for the Solutrean hypothesis. As one of my anthropology profs said, 'The question is not why would people cross the Atlantic or Pacific. The real question is 'why not?''. As an anthropology student who knits compulsively, I LOVE your blog. Thank you for every time you post. I'm definitely looking forward to the Oscars- I won't watch them, but I love your snarky commentaries!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for your posts. you soooo remind me of me, interest and attitude-wise. I miss you so much when you don't post!!!


=Tamar said...

Yes. Real history is much messier than the old tidy hypotheses.

Emily said...

I'm with anonymous, except for the reminding me of me part. You're much more interesting than I am!

My day was made when I saw you posted. Yeah, live blog the Oscars. You missed a couple of VK's too.

Sarah Dewfall said...

Thank you. I thought I was the only one who yelled at the telly. Having the wherewithall you do to back it up - you are my hero!

Nicole T said...

I dig all your history posts. Rock on. Can you recommend any good history books? (I'm sure you can recommend hundreds. I'm thinking more along the lines of anthropology like this, though, I suppose)