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Did Humans Migrate to New World From Europe? Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 634

Essay

Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford defend the position that Europeans did arrive in North America during the pre-historic period, in so far as their interpretation of the archeological evidence suggests that the thesis that the Clovis tribe in North America could not have originated in Siberia. This argument is largely based on the fact that the technologies of the Clovis indicate a European origin for the Clovis. In contrast, these technologies, for the aforementioned authors suggest a parallel with European technological developments. From an opposing position, Lawrence Guy Straus aruges that the European hypothesis is incorrect, based upon the fact that the tool similarity between cultures is overstated and that the North Atlantic ocean is a formidable obstacle to such a European-North American migration. When considering these opposing viewpoints, however, it appears that the Guy’s thesis is more tenable, in so far as he makes a compelling case for fundamental differences between the European and Clovis technological capabilities, while also noting the problems with geographical movement that seem to favor the Siberian hypothesis of origin.

Hence, Bradley and Stanford’s arguments are based on the legitimacy of two key points. In the first place, they maintain a robust similarity between the Clovis and European tool cultures. In the second place, they argue against the “insurmountable barrier” (p. 69) of the North Atlantic. In regards to the former point, the similarity is further evinced by the fact that there is a lack of similarity between Clovis tools and the Siberian connection. (Bradley and Stanford, 2013, p. 76) This lack of similarity would seem to explode one half of the proof for migration from Siberia: whereas the route was arguably more easier from Siberia to North America than from Europe to North America, the lack of tool culture similarity clearly puts a limitation on this hypothesis, in as much as this suggests that the Clovis were technologically different than their alleged Siberian ancestors. Furthermore, the Solutrean culture of Europe to whom the authors suggest have a similar tool culture to that of the Clovis is underscored by a striking similarity that is the “basically identical manufacturing technology of thin bifaces using an overshot flaking method.” (Bradley & Stanford, 2013, p. 77) Here, the production method provides a striking example of proof that is furthermore highlighted by the aforementioned absence of tool culture similarities between the alleged Siberian progenitors of the Clovis and the Clovis themselves.

Guy, in contrast, contests these arguments by proposing a detailed comparative analysis of the technological cultures of all the tribes involved in the controversy. Guy (2008) notes, for example, that despite similarities, there are also significant differences in terms of techniques such as pyrotechnology which included the employment of stones for heating purposes (p. 89) alongside the decorative considerations of the tools at stake. (p. 89) In this regard, despite the possible similarities noted by Bradley and Stanford, these differences are simply too radical in basic techniques and aesthetic world-view to formulate a robust comparison.

Accordingly, it appears that there is a reason why the Siberian thesis has remained favored in the academic literature: namely, despite clear-cut links between Siberian technological culture and that of the Clovis, there is also the absence of definitive links between European technological culture and the technological culture of the Clovis. In this regard, the geographic issue becomes of the utmost importance, and here the Siberian passage to North America following the creation of the ice sheets provides a much more logical explanation for the possibilities of migration. Hence, while Bradley and Stanford do provide some compelling points in favor of their position, the evident is in no way definitive enough to supplant the more logically sound and consensually accepted Siberian hypothesis.

References

Welsch, R.L. & Endicott, K.M. (2008). Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Anthropology. 5th edition. 68-94. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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