This is the first paragraph of the story:
"In his laboratory at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., Dr. Dennis Stanford hands me a slab of brown plaster. It’s a replica of a bone fragment – from a mastodon or a giant ground sloth – the original having been dredged from the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. On the slab is an etching of a mastodon, placed there by some unknown artist long ago. By itself, the find is a truly remarkable one. But more than this, the artifact, dated to a staggering 22,000 years ago, is now part of a growing body of evidence that could overturn everything scientists once thought they knew about the peopling of the Americas."
The first sentence might be correct. The rest of the first paragraph, however, is wrong.
Unless I missed something, there is no 22,000 year-old mastodon carving from Chesapeake Bay. The author has conflated the carving of a mammoth on a piece of fossil bone from Vero Beach, Florida (dating to about 13,000 years ago), with the 22,000-year-old mastodon remains that were purportedly dredged up from the mid-Atlantic continental shelf along with the Cinmar biface.
This is not a trivial error: it conflates a discovery that is accepted (Vero Beach) with one that is much less so (Cinmar), casting the case for the Solutrean Hypothesis in a more favorable light than is deserved based on the evidence.
As far as I know, no-one really doubts the veracity of the Vero Beach mammoth carving: it appears to be a genuine artifact that dates to at least 13,000 years ago (i.e., when mammoths became extinct). It could have been produced by Clovis or pre-Clovis peoples. It's pretty cool, but it hasn't been dated to 22,000 years ago and doesn't "overturn everything scientists thought they knew." If you want to read some scholarly work on the Vero Beach carving, here is a 2011 paper by Barbara Purdy et al. from the Journal of Archaeological Science.
To say the Cinmar biface doesn't enjoy the same level of acceptance as the Vero Beach carving is putting it mildly. The Cinmar biface, a bi-pointed stone blade that resembles a Solutrean laurel-leaf point, is said by its supporters to be about 22,8000 years old by virtue of its association with radiocarbon-dated mastodon remains. Both the point and the mastodon remains are said to have been dredged up from the continental shelf some years ago. The reported circumstances of discovery of the Cinmar biface have been strongly questioned (you can read a June 2015 paper by Metin Eren et al. in the Journal of Archaeological Science here; you can read Darrin Lowery's response to that paper here; and you can read what I wrote about the whole affair here).
The conflation of the Vero Beach carving (a well-accepted artifact) with the dates and location associated with the Cinmar biface (a much more controversial artifact) is an important mistake. The Cinmar biface is one of the key pieces of evidence put forward by proponents of the Solutrean Hypothesis. The Vero Beach carving is not. Not a great start to the article.
This is paragraph fourteen:
"Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation antedating Clovis by thousands of years, including sites on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Tools associated with these sites have a distinctly Solutrean look."
This paragraph, again, mixes something that most archaeologists accept (the reality of a pre-Clovis occupation of eastern North America) with something that has been asserted but not yet demonstrated to the satisfaction of most of us (that there are actual Solutrean sites on the east coast). More clarity would been helpful - what sites are we talking about here? Presumably, the article is referring to the Miles Point and Oyster Cove sites which were discussed by Lowery et al. in this 2010 paper in Quaternary Science Reviews (and this 2012 Washington Post article). The artifacts described from Miles Point (reportedly found in sediments of pre-Clovis age) don't look particularly Solutrean to me, and indeed that paper does not suggest any Solutrean affinity (the word "Solutrean" does not appear in the paper). You can read a critique of the evidence for the Solutrean Hypothesis and the data from Miles Point and Oyster Cove in this 2014 Antiquity paper by Michael O'Brien et al. If there's a paper somewhere that makes a case for the Solutrean affinity of the lithic assemblages from Miles Point or Oyster Cove (or other sites) on typological grounds, I haven't seen it.
The article includes an image of some Solutrean artifacts followed by two images that are supposed to be Clovis points. Neither of the artifacts represented as a Clovis point actually is.
The first "Clovis point" is apparently an artifact found in Mexico near the Tepexpan skeleton. It's possible it's a preform for a fluted point, but it clearly isn't a finished Clovis point.
The second image, also not a Clovis point, is apparently a biface from Nicaragua. The image can be found on Wikimedia Commons, where is described as "NOT A CLOVIS TECHNOLOGY."
It's pretty easy to find images of actual Clovis points, so I'm not sure why the Popular Archaeology story chose to use non-Clovis artifacts as examples of Clovis. In terms of their shape, the artifacts shown at least superficially resemble Solutrean laurel-leaf blades far more to the untrained eye than actual Clovis points. But they're not Clovis points. And they're not Solutrean artifacts. So why are they in the article?
Neither the Solutrean Hypothesis nor the evidence associated with it is really very complicated. I have no idea what the editorial process at Popular Archaeology is like, but the significant errors and omissions in this story don't inspire a lot of confidence.
I was compelled to write this post because one of the readers of my blog (a non-archaeologist) asked me about this article in particular. He wanted to know what I thought of Popular Archaeology. I think there's some room for improvement.
Is it just me? Am I missing something? Let me know if I've gotten anything wrong: I'll gladly correct what I've written.