Solutrean Mobility

Dec 2012
Georgia, USA
Hi guys,

So I'm working on a paper for Ice Age Archaeology that compares and contrasts Solutrean and Clovis mobility. That being said, I am not trying to prove the Solutrean Migration Theory-just trying to determine if they both fall on the same side of Lewis Binford's Forager-Collector model or not.

Problem? I'm having trouble finding a list of Solutrean sites. I found a list on a map, which helps, but it isn't in English and most of the sites I'm having trouble finding information on. And when I do find any sites, at least 60% of the time the article is a PDF file and either in French or Spanish, if there's any real information about it at all. Or it's Stanford and Bailey talking about a site in North America in an attempt to further push their Solutrean Migration Hypothesis.

I need more European Solutrean sites to investigate, and/or any information that's easily translatable or written in English, so if anybody could recommend any, it would be much appreciated~

I've been doing a lot of my research on JStor, so I do have free access to some of the research sites through the school. So far I have Las Caldas, Tito Bustillo, Cueto de la Mina, La Riera in Asturias, Abauntz in Navara, and Rascano in Cantabria to note evidence of hearths and roasting pits; subsistence examples found at La Riera; a brief mention of art found at Castillo and Altamira, La Paloma and Cueto de la Mina (Asturias), El Pendo, Altamira, El Rascano, El Castillo, and El Valle (Caltabria), Aitzbitarte and Urtiaga (Guipuzcoa); and a point cache found at Monted e Fainha. It looks like a lot, but the mention of the finds in the particular sites are more in brief and specific, and while helpful in supporting the conclusion of my paper, being able to find at least a few definitive sites of base camps, residential sites, storage sites, or architectural evidence of shelter (stacked stones, post holes, indents left in the ground from where a shelter may have been, more hearth/cooking/fire pits, ect.) would work wonders for making the paper more solid.

Sources and Conclusions

Current sources have been mainly articles to archaeological journals on JStor, by authors such as Lawrence Straus (a lot by him, actually), Steven Kuhn, Sophie A. de Beaune, and Arthur J. Jelinek. My conclusion so far is that while Clovis and Solutrean have very similar generalized weaponry, Clovis fall more on the side of being high-tech foragers (going by the Robert Kelly and Lawrence Todd model) due to their more frequent mobility and lack of art. The Solutrean, however, show more traits of being collectors due to the fact that while their weaponry may have been generalized and therefore similar to the Clovis, they show that it wasn't because they took up all their time with travel, nor that it was generalizing to prepare for radically-changing and potentially unknown environments, since they compensated with specialization for art and innovation (such as bone eye needles and lamps).


Solutrean-a group of people descended from the Cro-Magnons, they're found primarily in France and Spain towards the end of the Ice Age (roughly 21,000-17,000 years ago). Users of stone tools, their weaponry-Solutrean points-bears a striking resemblance to Clovis points due to the rare flintnapping method known as fluting, and are designed for the efficient hunting of megafauna aka large Ice Age animals. In other words, the two points were made very similarly and share a similar rare design. Potentially proto-proto-Basque?

Clovis-a group of people found primarily in North America towards the end of the Ice Age (roughly 13,000 years ago, but it's still hotly debated that they could be even older due to definite site discoveries being rare). Discovery of their existence is only as recent as 1927 or so, the first evidence of them being found in New Mexico sites known as 'Folsom' and 'Blackwater Draw'. They are uniquely known for their tendencies to cache weapons, something fairly uncommon (at least for early human groups). Their weapon technology-designed for taking down megafauna aka large Ice Age animals-bears a striking resemblance to Solutrean fluted weapon technology (see above), to the point that archaeologists Stanford and Bradley argue the possibility that they might have been Solutrean migrants that used boats to follow a North Atlantic Ice Bridge while hunting seals until they eventually reached North America (though the theory isn't very widely accepted for various reasons-time gap between cultures, weaponry being about the only real similarity between the two, and most if not all potential evidence would most likely be at the bottom of the ocean at this point, among other issues). That being said, they are arguably the first people to show up in North America at least (as Monte Verde in Chile shows evidence of an even older group, dated to roughly 14,200 years or so ago), but there is much debate on their origins (Siberian land bridge travelers, Oceanic Pacific-crossers, and so on).

Forager-Collector Model-A model set up by Lewis Binford, it's a lot like a pre-Hunter-Gatherer model. Foragers have frequent mobility/travel; more generalized weapons; gourmet hunting; known for being short-term and living in smaller groups; bigger risk-takers, more likely to go into the unknown; and when they move, they pick up the entire camp and go. Collectors are known more for logistical mobility/seasonal migration; having specialized tools, greater potential for art and innovation, and storage, as they've had more time to adapt to their location; hunting and collecting bands being sent out even hundreds of miles out to bring things back to their main base camp; having larger groups overall; and having more patterned movement, sticking to a general region that they're more familiar with to set up base camps.

High-Tech Forager Model-a proposal by Robert Kelly and Lawrence Todd that gives some exception/leeway to the Forager-Collector model, basically suggesting that Clovis could've been exceptional foragers with some collector traits, but not nearly enough to deem 'collector'.

Pleistocene/Late Glacial Maximum (LGM)-when the Ice Age was at its peak, but also when it was in its last gasps. When this period was at its height, massive glaciers sucked up a ton of water, exposing the Bering Land Bridge, people managing to brave out Southern France were reluctant to go any further north due to it being too cold and glacial, a north Atlantic ice bridge may have existed, and three mega-glaciers initially covered North America and blocked access until a dangerous corridor opened up between them roughly 12,000 years ago (making the theory of the first migration into North America via land bridge problematic because of Clovis discovery). The regions we're familiar with had vastly different environments from today, and massive animals known as megafauna (mastodons, mammoths, glyptodons, ground sloths, short-faced bears, sabertoothed-cats and sabertoothed salmon, etc.) roamed the land. Towards the end of it, the massive glaciers started sliding off into the ocean and/or melting, the chemical composition of the atmosphere started changing with rising oxygen levels (causing plants to adapt and start becoming poisonous to most of the megafauna), and a majority of the megafauna started going extinct-arguably because of being overhunted by early humans or climate change or both.

Paleolithic-ultimately describing tools that are made of stone, though can be used to describe people to be stone-tool users. Can also be used to describe the time period of stone-tool technology, much like one would describe the Iron Age or the Bronze Age. Generally shows up during the Pleistocene Era.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

P.S.: A bit more food for thought: Solutrean were definitely in France and Spain (my research so far actually kinda looks like they might be proto-proto-Basque? :zany: ) but I thought I saw something about a potential site Devonshire, England, too. And maybe something about proto-Irish potentially originating from with the ancestors of the Basque people due to a shared Haplogroup?
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