Last night I caught some of the new History Channel show, “Journey to 10,000 BC.” I really didn’t know about in advance to tell y’all. Had I known before hand I woulda surely made an announcement. But no worries, if there’s anything I know about channels like Discovery and History, is that they replay these sorts of episodes so much. Actually, if you’re interested in catching it, it will show again on Saturday, March 15 at 8 p.m.
Anyways about the show, I’m thinking History Channel put this out to coincide with the movie 10,000 B.C., which not surprisingly isn’t that accurate of a movie. Not like I expected it to be remotely realistic, but still I kinda hoped that it would be somewhat informative because it is about as much education most people will get about prehistory in their entire life. Anyways, “Journey to 10,000 BC” wasn’t much better. It had horrible cut scenes and exclusively focused on life in North America about 13,000 years ago. A lot of other very important things were happening elsewhere, such as the emergence of Neolithic revolution, i.e. the Natufian culture that shoulda been also included.
Even though I subscribe to the Siberian origin of native Americans, I did appreciate how Dennis Stanford made a cameo and explained his hypothesis that the Clovis archaeology could have originated from sea-faring Soluteran people from Europe. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, some of the first archaeological evidence in the Americas are associated with a type of stone tools found in Clovis, New Mexico. The Clovis typology is significantly different from Siberian archaeology, see Siberian tools around that time were largely modified ivory points with a blade inset. Clovis tools were much different. Clovis tools are highly refined thin, fluted projectile points created using bifacial percussion flaking.
Dennis Stanford publicized his hypothesis in 2004, along with colleague Bruce Bradely, in this paper, “The North Atlantic ice-edge corridor: a possible Palaeolithic route to the New World.” Like I indicated earlier, Stanford suggests that 13,000 years ago or so Europeans made boats and crossed the Atlantic to the Americas. With lower sea levels then, this was more feasible than nowadays… and by then people were crossing large bodies of water all over the world, i.e. Polynesia and the Pacific. The problem with Stanford’s hypothesis is that there’s no evidence of boats in the America’s from that time period, nor is there a genetic European signature in Native American populations. Stanford says that the reason why boats haven’t been found is that sea levels have risen since then and obliterated any trace of boats… convenient. Anyways, his idea is a bit out there, and not substantiated much. It is really possible that the reason why Clovis typology is unique is that arose in the Americas independently.
I also appreciated the discussion the show gave to climate change and glaciation events in North America. This sorta information isn’t readily inserted into shows like these, and help viewers visualize large scale environmental changes. But, I really couldn’t get over the cheesy cut scenes where a prehistoric woman with remarkable Vogue-like complexion was taken down by a smilodon, and early people crossing massive waves in unconvincing
boats canoes. So it is totally up to you to watch, I neither recommend it nor thoroughly think it is a waste of time. If you don’t know much about the peopling of the Americas, this show maybe a great introduction to some lines of evidence.
- Bradley, B., Stanford, D. (2004). The North Atlantic ice-edge corridor: a possible Palaeolithic route to the New World. World Archaeology, 36(4), 459-478. DOI: 10.1080/0043824042000303656