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Clovis culture

    The '''Clovis culture''' is a prehistoric indigenous peoples of the Americas|Native American culture that first appears in the archaeology|archaeological record of North America around 13500 years ago at the end of the last ice age They are named for artifacts found near Clovis New Mexico where the first evidence of this tool complex was excavated in 1932 Clovis sites have since been identified throughout all of the contiguous United States as well as Mexico and Central America The ''Clovis people'' also known as ''Paleo Indians|Paleo-Indians'' are generally regarded as the ancestors of the indigenous cultures of North and South America
    For much of the 20th century the Clovis people were universally regarded among archaeologists as the first people of the New World Recent scholarship has begun to challenge this theory supported by the possible discovery in 2004 of worked stone tools at the Topper site in South Carolina that have been dated by radiocarbon techniques to 50000 years ago

    Description

    A hallmark of Clovis culture is the use of a distinctively-shaped fluted rock spear point known as the Clovis point The Clovis point is distinctively bifacial and fluted on both sides a feature that possibly allowed the point to be mounted onto a spear in a way so that the point would snap off on impact Archaeologists do not agree on whether the widespread presence of these artifacts indicates the proliferation of a single people or the adoption of a superior technology by non-Clovis people It is generally accepted that Clovis people hunted mammoth: sites abound where Clovis points are found mixed in with mammoth remains Whether they drove the mammoth to extinction via overhunting them--the so-called Pleistocene overkill hypothesis--is still an open and controversial question keeping in mind that Archaeology is purely a theoretical endeavor
    Since the mid 20th century the standard theory among archaelogists has been that the Clovis people were the first inhabitants of the Americas The primary support of the theory was that no solid evidence of pre-Clovis human inhabitation has been found According to the standard accepted theory the Clovis people crossed the Beringia land bridge over the Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska during the period of lowered sea levels during the ice age then made their way southward through an ice-free corridor east of the Rocky Mountains in present-day western Canada as the glaciers retreated

    Alternative theories

    Many Archaeologists have long debated the possible existence of a culture older than Clovis in North and South America Some archaeologists have claimed that certain sites contain pre-Clovis artifacts One such site Monte Verde in Chile appear to have remains from before Clovis mixed with Clovis technology Archaeologists do not currently agree however that anything found at these sites establishes a human presence prior to Clovis
    Recent studies of the DNA of mitochondria in First Nations/Native Americans suggests that the people of the New World may have diverged genetically from Siberians as early as 20000 years ago far earlier than the standard theory would suggest According to one alternative theory the Pacific coast of North America may have been free of ice such as to allow the first peoples in North America to come down this route prior to the formation of the ice-free corridor in the continental interior No solid evidence has yet been found to support this hypothesis
    Another controversial hypothesis proposed in 1999 by Smithsonian archaeologist Dennis Stanford and colleague Bruce Bradley suggests that the Clovis people were descended from the Solutrean people who lived in southern Europe between 19000-16000 years ago and who created the first Stone Age artwork in present-day southern France The link is suggested by the similarity in technology between the spear points of the Solutreans and those of the Clovis people Such a theory would require that the Solutreans crossed via the edge of the pack ice in the North Atlantic Ocean that then extended to the Atlantic coast of France They could have done this using survival skills similar to those of the modern Inuit people Supporters of this hypothesis suggest that stone tools found at Cactus Hill (an early American site in Virginia) that are knapped in a style between Clovis and Solutrean support a possible link between the Clovis people and Solutrean people in Europe The idea is also supported by mitochondrial DNA analysis (see Map in Single-origin hypothesis) that shows ancient European elements in some native North American tribes
    Opponents of the hypothesis that the Solutreans crossed the Atlantic point to the difficulty of the ocean crossing as well as the lack of art work (such as that found at Lascaux in France) among the Clovis people as indicative that no such link exists However evidence suggests that canoes built previous to 9500 BC have been found

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