European arrival is a hot academic topic

The first voyage of Columbus is enshrined in the  history books  as the discovery of America. He even visited what is now Limón briefly. And there is a day in his name Sunday.

But more and more the evidence is building that Columbus was a late comer and one of a long line of explorers from other continents who located the Americas.

Scholars disagree if the Vikings established permanent settlements, and they argue about it amicably.

But if something akin to a fist fight is wanted, throw out a suggestion to a bunch of archaeologists that Europeans, modern humans, may have crossed the ice or the frigid Atlantic to enter America 20,000 years ago. There have been some stone tools found that bear a great similarity to those fashioned in what is now France.

That theory got a boost when U.S. Public Broadcasting aired a show depicting early humans traveling from Europe to the New World. These are the  Solutrean, a people well documented by many sites in France and Spain.

Some researchers go even further to say that the Solutrean were the ancestors of the Clovis people, the big animal hunters who left evidence in about every U.S. state and who fashioned a unique spearpoint.

Those who support these theories about Europeans are mavericks, perhaps outcasts, in the anthropological and archaeological communities. Most academics and professionals adhere to the theory that America was settled by Asians who crossed a land bridge into Alaska when the seas were low and then eventually spread into the rest of the Americas about 9,000 years ago.

Science moves slowly, and old theories are defended even in the face of new evidence. After all, it took decades for geologists to accept the concept of plate tectonics, despite the obvious mirroring of the African and South American continents.

For a real battle, though, there are serious academics who have evidence they interpret to mean that there were humans in the Americas 200,000 to 400,000 year ago. They have excavated sites in México and in the United States that seem to lead to this conclusion. They are shunned.

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