Dr. Bruce Bradley's Two Day visit with The New England Chapter of the ASAA by Joe Finneran
Bruce Bradley works as an Associate Professor of Experimental Archaeology at Exeter University in England.
For over twelve years Dr. Bradley along with his friend and colleague Dr. Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institute, has been espousing an interesting theory concerning the origin of the auriculate style projectile points seen in the North American Clovis Culture. Bradley had noticed the uncanny similarity between our Clovis points and those being made by Stone Age European hunters of the Solutrean culture or perhaps more correctly, the late Solutrean or Episolutrean people.
Coupling this similarity with other Solutrean traits, such as use of a prepared platform blade core and blade technology, long distance procurement of the finest exotic toolstone often transported via waterways, heavy use of red ochre, and the caching of preforms strengthens a cultural connection between the two people. Considering all of these traits are also indicative of the North American Clovis culture, at least leaves me lacking in any doubt that their theory is correct.
I have been dumbfounded for years as to why so many learned scholars, knowledgeable of these similar cultural traits, still insist on a Clovis first via Beringian Theory. If you choose not to subscribe to the ocean route model, are we to believe that Western Europeans headed east across the Balkans, Russia, Siberia, Beringia, and finally once inside the current day United States, they then reinvented their old Solutrean traits, which they conveniently discarded all across the previously described travel route? Or are we to believe that two distinct cultures separated by the North Atlantic developed exactly identical traits, totally independent of one another? How long would it have taken to almost circumnavigate the globe from Western Europe to the western United States? Perhaps decade after decade, or perhaps centuries would expire during this trek. I have been informed by senior United States Merchant Marine Officers that it would only take approximately twenty-eight days for any floating object to drift from western Europe to Labrador, Newfoundland or Nova Scotia given the steady flow of sea water in the Irminger Current.
We all have heard the statement that "everyone was coming from everywhere". That comment appears to be true. According to Dr. Doug Owsley, the slightly later (Dalton age) Kennewick Man remains appear to be from the northern Pacific coastal islands perhaps Hokkaido off the Japans. Dr. Owsley has also offered that in Texas the Horn Shelter II skeletal remains seem to be of Polynesian origin. In addition, Dr. Walter Neves in Brazil curates large numbers of skulls, which have been definitively attributed to the Negroid race-obviously of African origin. Some of these skulls have been dated to approximately thirty thousand years ago. So far these would appear to be the oldest residents of our hemisphere. These people or their descendents were the El Jobo point-using ancients.
Dr. Michael Gramly has successfully demonstrated to me and many others, that these El Jobo type lanceolates were the precursors to what would later become the Cumberland points of our southeastern states. Using his recently patented I.R. Raman Laser Dating System, Dave Walley has determined the age of Cumberland to exceed 16,000 years. It is very easy for me to suspect that the unfluted auriculate point using Episolutreans, after making their North Atlantic Rim Influx advance to our continent, may have encountered these fluted Cumberland users and simply said to themselves, "We could use these peoples fluting on our auriculate pints" and thus was born the Clovis point and culture.
I believe that much later when the glacial recession allowed the Mongoloid cultures arrival enmasse, that both the South Americans and the Europeans were completely decimated and displaced by these newcomers from Siberia with very little or no DNA exchange.
The reader will recognize that the immediately preceding comments concerning how the Clovis fluting came into being are solely those of this writer.
I had been working since 1988 at The Wamsutta Paleo site in the Fowl Meadow region of Norfolk County, Massachusetts. We finally, after years of research, realized that Wamsutta had functioned as a game procurement site for the main encampment of early habitants of the nearby Brook Meadow site. These two locales are about ten miles southwest of Boston, and approximately eight miles from the modern day coast. In 1995 our team was opening a new area at Wamsutta (Locus H)-a beach locus on a south facing cove. We recovered Late Paleo lanceolate forms slightly above a major spread of late fluted point Barnes type artifacts covering a thin Clovis occupation. One day I took the time to dig deeper on Locus H. About 1-½ feet into the white glacial sand, which I suspected would be sterile. I quickly came across a large scattering of white quartz flakage that contained an obvious midsection of a quartz lanceolate.
Since this scattering of artifacts was obviously well below the Clovis level, I wrote to Dennis Stanford in Washington, D.C. He responded and since that time, I have had numerous conversations with him in person from New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, and once at a lecture he was giving here in Massachusetts.
After years of studying our massive Paleo assemblages (well over 8,000 artifacts), I finally came to the opinion that ninety or so artifacts that I previously had assumed were bipointed knives were perhaps given their deep find stratigraphy various forms of Laurel leaf projectile points/knives peculiar to the Western European cultures.
Pursuant to this realization, I again contacted both Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley supplying them with photographs of selected groups of artifacts from Wamsutta/Brook Meadow, which closely resemble Solutrean assemblages from France that I currently curate. After months of back and forth communications with Dr. Bradley in particular, he informed me that he would soon be in the Boston/Cambridge area for a personal visit in May. Dr. Bradley expressed an interest in viewing the artifacts I had sent photographs of, and also would like to tour the Wamsutta/Brook Meadow sites along with a few associated sites located in the (aforementioned) Fowl Meadow Region. In addition, Dr. Bradley stated that while here visiting us, he would kindly give a presentation to our New England Chapter of the ASAA the day after my personal visit with him. Bruce took a short commuter rail trip from Boston south to Norfolk County, and I picked him up and we proceeded to the Finneran home.
I would feel seriously remiss if I did not point out a few very unique aspects of this small (6 x 3 mile) Fowl Meadow region that encompasses an area which once was the locale of a post-Laurentide melt glacial lake, which by the Early Archaic times had receded and been reduced to a swampy wetland. The area is tremendous for wildlife, but next to useless for human habitation. This is the reason Interstate 95 was built there; no one could build or live there.
According to experts on the subject, the Barnes culture was restricted to areas west of western New York State. We now know these Barnes folk extended to Eastern Massachusetts and even out to Martha's Vineyard.
Pennsylvania archaeologist and author Gary Fogelman has commented that Late Paleo lanceolate forms in the Northeast are actually much rarer than the fluted point types. He is right except for the Fowl Meadow region. These late Paleo peoples were drawn here. Our team curates over two hundred lanceolate forms all from our sites. That is more lances I believe, than the total collections in the rest of the New England states combined. Game (caribou) was the apparent draw.
As our assemblages grew it became clear that the same chronology of point types and thus their associated cultures moved back and forth between Eastern Massachusetts and the Great Lakes via the Connecticut River, Lake Champlain, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway for centuries. This point chronology includes Barnes, Crowfield, Holcombe, Hi-Lo, Agate Basin, Hell Gap, Medina, Eden, Eastern Scottsbluff, and even a recently designated point type from Ontario referred to as Plainville. We have them all!
Although the size of our excavation teams has varied over time, as a group we have excavated for just two months shy of twenty years, and accumulated in excess of nineteen thousand man-hours on site.
Knowing that Dr. Bradley's lecture would prove to be a unique experience, the chapter chose to invite scientists and other enthused individuals from far afield who are not members of the New England Chapter of ASAA. Numerous people from around the country came for the Bradley presentation and a fine time was had by all.
We will take this opportunity to again thank Bruce Bradley for his generous gift of time and knowledge.
Click on an image to view full size.
Again we thank Dr. Bruce Bradley and all those attendees, some of whom traveled great distances, for making the event a memorable experience.
Acknowledgements are also due to Dr. Michael Gramly for his years of dogged resilience in his research of early cultures, and Margery Finneran for coordinating our chapter meeting with Dr. Bradley and assisting in this report.
Note: Dr. Bradley, in association with Dr. Dennis Stanford, is due to release their new book February 21, 2012, focusing on the North Atlantic Rim Influx theory and titled, "Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America's Clovis Culture".