It is named after the type-site of Solutré in the Mâcon district, Saône-et-Loire, eastern France and appeared around 19,000 BCE. The Solutré site was discovered in 1866 by the French geologist and paleontologist Henry Testot-Ferry (second son of Napoleon's famous cavalryman, General Claude Testot-Ferry, Baron of the Empire). Solutrean tool-making employed techniques not seen before and not rediscovered for millennia. The era's finds also include ornamental beads and bone pins as well as prehistoric art.
The Solutrean has relatively finely worked, bifacial points made with pressure flaking rather than cruder flint knapping. This method permitted the working of delicate slivers of flint to make light projectiles and even elaborate barbed and tanged arrowheads.
Large thin spear-heads; scrapers with edge not on the side but on the end; flint knives and saws, but all still chipped, not ground or polished; long spear-points, with tang and shoulder on one side only, are also characteristic implements of this industry. Bone and antler were used as well.
The industry was named by Gabriel de Mortillet to describe the second stage of his system of cave chronology, following the Mousterian, and he considered it synchronous with the third division of the Quaternary period.
The Solutrean may be seen as a transitory stage between the flint implements of the Mousterian and the bone implements of the Magdalenian epochs. Faunal finds include horse, reindeer, mammoth, cave lion, rhinoceros, bear and aurochs. Solutrean finds have been also made in the caves of Les Eyzies and Laugerie Haute, and in the Lower Beds of Cresswell Crags in Derbyshire, England. The industry first appeared in modern-day Spain and disappears from the archaeological record around 15,000 BCE.
Some archaeologists claim similarities between the Solutrean industry and the later Clovis culture / Clovis points of North America. The "Solutrean hypothesis" suggests that people with Solutrean tool technology crossed the Ice Age Atlantic by moving along the pack ice edge, using survival skills similar to that of modern Eskimo people. The migrants arrived in northeastern North America and served as the donor culture for what eventually developed into Clovis tool-making technology. Sites such as Cactus Hill, Virginia, have yielded artifacts which appear to bridge the temporal and technological gap between Solutrean and Clovis cultures. In addition, certain mtDNA anomalies in pre-Columbian Amerind populations leave open the possibility of alternate migration patterns into the Americas. However, the idea of a Clovis-Solutrean link remains rather controversial and does not enjoy wide acceptance. The hypothesis is challenged by large gaps in time between the Clovis and Solutrean eras, a lack of evidence of Solutrean seafaring, lack of specific Solutrean features in Clovis technology, and other issues.
Solutrean in Catalan: Solutrià
Solutrean in Czech: Solutréen
Solutrean in German: Solutréen
Solutrean in Spanish: Solutrense
Solutrean in French: Solutréen
Solutrean in Dutch: Solutréen
Solutrean in Occitan (post 1500): Solutrean
Solutrean in Polish: Kultura solutrejska
Solutrean in Russian: Солютрейская культура
Solutrean in Finnish: Solutrén kulttuuri
Solutrean in Swedish: Solutréenkulturen
Solutrean in Ukrainian: Солютрейська культура