Pre-Clovis in the Americas Conference Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C.


Rafael Suárez, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor – Departamento Arqueología Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay and Museo de Arqueología y Ciencias Naturales (Salto)

Early Paleoamerican Pre-Fishtail settlement in the South Cone: Evaluation and discussion of the evidence

Several archaeological sites located on the Plains of Uruguay, Uruguay middle River (Southern Brazil) and Pampa-Patagonia in Argentina has ages between 14,900 to 13,500 cal yr BP. I present an evaluation and discussion of known sites of the south cone that exceed 13,000 cal. yr BP below 28° latitude south.

 The recent redefinition of the Clovis age reduced the chronological distance with Fishtail complex. Now we know that Clovis is only 100 years older than Fishtail complex and both cultures are mostly contemporary. The synchrony and broad distance between both complexes excludes any relation of would directly connect them, in the sense that Clovis is the ancestor of Fishtail, as has been proposed by several researchers. Others researchers have proposed an independent invention for Clovis and Fishtail points and technologies. Here I proposed that both technologies Clovis and Fishtail have a common ancestor, and both evolved on different ways in North and South America.


Dr. Michael R. Waters
Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Geography Director, Center for the Study of the First Americans Executive Director, North Star Archaeological Research Program Texas A&M University

 In Search of the First Americans – What the Friedkin Site, Texas, and Manis Site, Washington Tell us About the First Americans

 The Friedkin site, located in central Texas, is a stratified site with Late Prehistoric, Archaic and Paleoindian horizons. The Paleoindian sequence includes Golondrina, Dalton, Midland, Folsom, and Clovis horizons. Beneath the Clovis levels at the site are over 18,000 artifacts including bifaces, blades, bladelets, and other tools dating between 13,500 and 15,500 yr B.P. At the Manis site in northwestern Washington, the tip of a bone projectile point is embedded into the rib of a mastodon dated to 13,800 yr B.P. This evidence, combined with the evidence from other sites as well as human genetic data, provides a new understanding of the late Pleistocene colonization of the Americas and the origins of Clovis.


Darrin L. Lowery, Ph.D.

Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC 20013 Department of Geography, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716

John S. Wah, Ph.D. 

Matapeake Soil and Environmental Consultants, Shippensburg, PA 17257

 Pedologic and Geologic Protocols for Understanding the Archaeology of Exploration: A Middle Atlantic Pre-Clovis Case Study

 Miles Point, Oyster Cove, and Cator’s Cove) on the coastal plain of the Delmarva Peninsula are combined with previous archaeological, pedological, and geological data to document a pre-Clovis presence in the Middle Atlantic region. Research pertaining to the timing of upland aeolian deposition, intervals of landscape stability, and episodes of upland erosion has provided a framework for understanding these archaeological deposits.   Two intervals of aeolian deposition have been documented. The earliest was deposited between 25 and 41 cal ka. A paleosol initially developed as a result of grasslands and boreal environments during a subsequent period of landscape stability between 25 and 18 cal ka. The paleosol has been observed along eroded bank profiles adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay for over 200 kilometers. Pedogenic transformations allowed for the formation of a fragipan in the earlier aeolian deposit. Between 12.8 and 12.5 cal ka, the paleosol was eroded in many areas as evidenced by diagnostic Clovis artifacts (13.2-12.8 cal ka) lying unconformably on the 25 to 18 cal ka dated surface. A uniform terminal-Pleistocene aeolian deposit, buried the Clovis-age lag artifacts and other archaeological remains older than 13.2 cal ka BP. The dated buried A-horizons at Miles Point, Oyster Cove, and Cator’s Cove are consistent in age and the results suggest a human presence in the Middle Atlantic region during the Last Glacial Maximum.


James Adovasio, Ph.D.

Provost Senior Counselor to the President Dean, The Zurn School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics Director, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

 Plant Fiber Technologies and the Initial Colonization of the New World

Ongoing research demonstrates that perishable industries—notably including the manufacture of textiles, basketry, cordage, netting, and sandals—were a well-established, integral component of the Upper Paleolithic technological milieu in many parts of the Old World. Moreover, extant data suggest that these technologies played a vital and, essentially unappreciated role in the ecological success of all late Pleistocene populations, notably including the first Americans. Late Pleistocene perishable assemblages from throughout this hemisphere are summarized including the most recent discoveries. Additionally, this paper explores the varied roles of early fiber technology in the New World and specifically examines the adaptive qualities, impact on social organization, and enhancements to food procurement strategies implicit in this critical series of interrelated industries. It is suggested that the manufacture of perishable plant fiber-derived artifacts was far more important in the successful colonization of this hemisphere than any of the more often recovered durable artifact classes, particularly stone.


James Adovasio, Ph.D. 

Provost Senior Counselor to the President Dean, The Zurn School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics Director, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute Erie, Pennsylvania

David Pedler, B.A.

Editor and Graphics Specialist Director, Geographic Information systems Laboratory Department of Anthropology / Archaeology Erie, Pennsylvania

Meadowcroft Rockshelter: Retrospect 2012

With the publication of the first radiocarbon sequence from Meadowcroft Rockshelter in 1974, the site has become and remains the most controversial North American locality ever advanced for early occupation of the New World since Abbott’s excavation in the Trenton Gravels. The salient features of this site, including the stratigraphy, cultural features, artifactual suite, and floral and faunal collections, are summarized from the perspective of 39 years of research. Additionally, the first calibrated radiocarbon sequence from the site is presented. We stress that despite the now nearly extinguished debate over the earliest occupation of this site, the excavation and documentation protocols employed there are still considered even by its severest critics as the state-of-the-art. With the benefit of nearly 40 years of hindsight, we conclude that perhaps the most enduring non-methodological contribution of the Meadowcroft research is the delineation of an occupational sequence that spanned at least 14 millennia and occurred against an ever and often subtly shifting backdrop of environmental change.


D. Clark Wernecke, Ph.D.

Gault School of Archaeological Research

Michael B. Collins, Ph.D

Older-than-Clovis Components at Gault in a Western Hemispheric Perspective

Increasingly, archaeological evidence indicates that at least eight distinctive temporal and spatial cultural manifestations were present in the Western Hemisphere in the 10,000 or more years predating Clovis.  These are: 1) widely dispersed sites in the grasslands of North America, dating 18,000 to 14,000 cal BP, where humanly-modified mammoth remains are found in the absence of stone projectile points; 2) sites near the late glacial ice front in North America, dating ca. 14,000 cal BP, where proboscidean remains are found associated with stone flake tools and a worked bone projectile point, but no stone projectile points; 3) “Paleocoastal” sites from southern Chile to the channel islands of California, dating from 14,500 to 12,000 calBP, with a mix of terrestrial and marine resources associated with a broad array of stone tool forms including projectile points at some sites; 4) sites along the western margin of the hemisphere from Alaska to Chile where long, narrow, thick projectile points occur with non-blade tool assemblages between 14,500 and 10,000 cal BP; 5) one dated site [ca. 23,000 cal BP], one undated site, and six undated, isolated finds of large Laurel-leaf-like, bipointed bifaces from submerged and subaerial sites in the mid-Atlantic region; 6) sites distributed widely in eastern North America and dated from 21,000 to 14,000 cal BP that all share thin, lanceolate, unfluted projectile points and all but one also share prismatic blades; 7) sites with diverse lithic assemblages of unifaces, bifaces, and often blades and some with stone projectile points, dating between 15,500 and 13,200 cal BP in south central North America; 8) lithic assemblages lacking projectile points but having other kinds of chipped stone tools distributed widely in South America outside of the Amazon Basin and mostly dating 14,000 to 13,000 cal BP with two outliers dating greater than 30,000 cal BP.  This diversity of manifestations, each represented by multiple sites, tells us that the processes of early peopling of the Americas and subsequent adaptations are far more complex, lasted longer, and were more widespread than previously thought.  The significance and implications of these findings are discussed.


Astolfo Gomes de Mello Araujo, Ph.D.

Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology University of São Paulo, Brazil

The Archaeological Record of Eastern South America and its Implications on the Clovis / Pre-Clovis Debate

The region that is called today Brazilian territory comprises 48% of South America. The data obtained at Lagoa Santa, together with archaeological information derived from other settings in Brazil, strongly suggests an abrupt and simultaneous appearance of Paleoindians in inland, continental settings, about 11,800 cal BP, inside a polygon whose (minimum) dimensions are about 800 km east-west and 2,300 km north-south, and already showing a very diverse material culture. We will explore the implications that these data impart on the Clovis / Pre-Clovis debate.


David Rice, Ph.D.

Tkwinit Twati Anthropological Services

 Origin and Antiquity of a Western North American Stemmed Point Tradition: A Pre-Clovis Perspective

Over the past 40 years an accumulation of early archaeological finds from diverse settings in the American West has gradually made investigators aware that these developments were not sequential to Clovis, as previously assumed, but parallel to and earlier than Clovis, as a separate tradition. Initially, much of the evidence was dismissed because it was anomalous with the prevailing view that Clovis represented the earliest New World people. New possibilities for New World origins now seem more feasible and realistic, than previous putative observations. The mechanics for realization of possible colonization along the coastal shelf of North America makes the concept feasible in light of modeling of sea level changes during the Pleistocene, better understanding of local and regional details of eustacy and isostacy, improvements in geochronology detailing its timing, and GIS and satellite telemetry to reveal its areal extent. These developments in the advancement of science and scientific method now allow the interdisciplinary exploration of what seemed impossible just a few years ago. New possibilities are emerging in our awareness that now seem almost self-evident they are so obvious! But this is only so once you are able to connect the relationships that create a new awareness in the eye of the beholder.

More refined radiocarbon dating from an increased number of sites from California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington present unequivocal evidence of pre-Clovis. Not all of these finds have been recent. Some evidence has been present over the past century of archaeological discovery and investigation, but lacked a “context” to give it standing and validity. For example, George Carter’s hearths exposed along the southern California sea cliffs, or Phil Orr’s discovery of hearths with extinct faunal remains off the California coast on the channel islands. Often, determined efforts to discover the earliest material has been thwarted because we could not conceive where to find it. Prevailing attitudes discouraged investigation of locations and environments that has produced new finds as old, and older than Clovis. Also, new evidence includes not only formed artifacts, but associated material, such as human coprolites.

As additional 14,000 year dates mount, predating Clovis finds by hundreds to a thousand years, a new paradigm needs to be built to consider the new locations that should be investigated, and what new methods are necessary to investigate them. Since potential currently submerged coastal shelf sites face the challenges of high costs and development of innovative methods to investigate them, other more accessible settings need to be reexamined, such as the interactive boundary along the southern extent of the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets during the late Pleistocene. There, unusual, now unimagined habitats may have existed along this stressful fluctuating boundary that were more productive to prehistoric hunter-gatherers than what has now been considered. For instance, I am impressed with the question regarding the attraction to prehistoric hunters of deglaciating high mountain cirques lakes, kame terraces, and precipitous mountain valleys. Investigations in Idaho and Washington along some of these loci have unexpectedly revealed points of the Western Stemmed Point Tradition. In places, they may turn out to be as old or older Clovis in the West. A few investigators now believe that the Paleoindian Cody Complex in the Plains regions may represent a later eastern manifestation of the Western Stemmed Point Tradition. What once was perceived as the earliest Paleoindian stemmed points in America may actually be descended from still earlier stemmed point traditions in the West. Indeed this may be so, as the Cody Complex increasingly looks like a specialized, and more localized, development out of a broad, more diverse, generalized stemmed point tradition.

In my view, diverse stemmed points developed within separate regions along the coast, and around the pluvial lakes that existed in the basin-plateau, and in the surrounding mountains and connecting valleys and alluvial terraces. Many distinct stylistic variations evidently emerged within a common Western Stemmed Point Tradition, accounting for separate scattered geographic clusters of point types named Lind Coulee, Cougar Mountain, Haskett, Windust, etc. I also suspect that the inspiration for this larger, tradition comes from the south, and is much older than we now understand. I have long held that San Dieguito may represent an aspect of this older source. Ultimately, there may be some connection to substantially older archaeological finds in the now unsorted Calico Hills region that are presently discredited by many New World prehistorians. Such possible associations are hard to imagine because the hydrology, vegetation, and bio-populations of mammals, birds, and fish that comprised that broad landscape is now totally gone. Lack of preserved artifacts alone, however, may be insufficient grounds to rule out this possibility, if other contextual environmental and geological information suggest otherwise.

If the Calico Hills region of 20,000 to 30,000 years ago had any counterparts, they too, would be to the south, into Mexico. I suspect that during the late Pleistocene a system of luxuriant cienegas extended from southern California and Nevada into the major valleys of Mexico, especially including Mexico, Puebla, Tehuacan, and Oaxaca. The early evidence in Mexico for these relationships has been long obscured by thousands of years of horticulture and agriculture there. There, too, factors of longer day-length and more intensive sunlight, would have expanded subsistence opportunity and productivity for humans to higher elevations, along with greater moisture and humidity than is evident today. It was a long marshy pluvial phase in the late Pleistocene there. These environmental conditions presented a much more productive landscape for hunter-gatherers than we can possibly envision today, and may have supported a still earlier phase of human existence, with environmental cross-ties extending ultimately into South America and back, as some fossil biota suggest.

In conclusion, new scientific methods and conceptual paradigms to identify new locations to search, will refocus our present minds to the reality of multiple Pre-Clovis archaeological traditions in New World prehistory. Part of the challenge will be to open our awareness to the acceptance of lack of physical evidence, and to search, in addition, for broader information about environmental context before making judgments about the antiquity, longevity, and adaptability of the First Americans.


Jorie Clark, Ph.D.

Department of Geosciences Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Jerry X. Mitrovica, Ph.D.

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

 Jay Alder, Ph.D.

U.S. Geological Survey Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

 Regional Variability in Deglacial Sea-Level Rise Across the Oregon-Washington and Bering Sea Continental Shelves

Sea-level rise during the last deglaciation was influenced by isostatic, gravitational, and rotational effects that led to significant regional departures from eustasy. Deglacial sea-level rise across the Oregon-Washington and Bering Sea continental shelf would have been particularly variable spatially in response to the near-field effects of the Cordilleran and Laurentide Ice Sheets as well as the far-field effects of the mass redistribution from melting of the other global ice sheets. Such regional variability is important to identify when investigating paleo-coastal occupation sites and migration pathways used by early Native Americans. An improved understanding of regional sea-level rise may also be used for predictive modeling of potential archaeological sites that are now submerged. Here we predict relative sea-level (RSL) change across the Oregon-Washington and Bering Sea continental shelves using a state-of-the-art theory that incorporates time-varying shoreline geometry and the feedback of rotation onto sea level (Kendall et al., 2005). The calculations are performed using the pseudo-spectral algorithm with a truncation at spherical harmonic degree and order 256. The predictions are based on the ICE-5G ice model. Our results clearly demonstrate deglacial sea-level rise across the Oregon-Washington and Bering Sea continental shelves was highly non-uniform spatially. The implications for the archaeological record will be discussed.


Alison T. Stenger, Ph.D. 

Conference Co-chair Institute for Archaeological Studies Portland, Oregon

 Characterizing Pre-Clovis Sites, Material Culture, and Origins

The number of pre-Clovis sites and materials that have been documented provide far more than the mere validation that sites older than Clovis exist.  Some seemingly similar pre-Clovis features, tools, materials, and technologies have been reported from many different regions. The task now is to determine what similarities or differences are reflected in these early materials, and what this can tell us about the people who made them. Additionally, a vast array of occupation environments has been described. The differing economies, and cultural preferences, that this indicates may be suggestive of distinct pre-Clovis entries.

This paper will focus upon these topics, but it will also include several additional issues. These include human groups and tool types that may have descended from a common but distant ancestor, as well as those specimens that appear to be unique. Questions about selected analysis methods, and index species thus far ignored, will also be introduced.


C. Andrew Hemmings

Director of the Old Vero Ice Age Sties Committee Mercyhurst University

James Adovasio, Ph.D.

Provost Senior Counselor to the President Dean, The Zurn School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics Director, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

 Inundated Landscapes and the Colonization of the Inner Continental Shelf of the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico

The inundated terrestrial Pleistocene landscape of Florida has been examined with increasingly more sophisticated techniques and equipment for over 100 years. Recent systematic remote sensing has identified nearly 175km of the buried Paleo-Suwannee River Channel, now traced to the SE corner of the Florida Middle Grounds. Scuba diver sampling of bedrock exposures of knappable stone and initial attempts to excavate adjacent areas are yielding important, incremental, data demonstrating that the buried channel is intact and has not been exposed to the ravages of modern seafloor activity during the Holocene. Future research plans and expectations are discussed. In addition, broader implications for the peopling of the New World after the LGM are derived from our nuanced understanding of this reconstructed landscape and the potential for this environment to have supported a rich Pleistocene faunule, and early human arrivals, as sea level rise drove them shoreward until about 5,000 years ago.


Dennis Stanford

Chairman, Department of Anthropology Smithsonian Institution Washington D.C.


Jim Chatters

AMEC Earth and Environmental, Inc Bothell, WA 98034 And Dept of Earth and Environmental Sciences California State University Fresno, California

Visualizing the Pre-Clovis Paleoamericans

To date, no human remains predating Clovis have been recovered in North America, and early dates on humans from South America are equivocal.  Nonetheless, it is possible to speculate about the craniofacial characteristics of pre-Clovis Paleoamericans by reviewing the characteristics of those earliest Paleoamericans who have been found—Buhl, Penom, Lapa Vermelha, Santana do Riacho, Peñon,  and Hoyo Negro and by reviewing the characteristics of Late Pleistocene skeletal material from throughout Eurasia.  When compared with modern human populations, both the Paleoamericans and people of the Eurasian Upper Paleolithic consistently cluster closest to historic Ainu, Polynesian, or Australomelanesian populations, indicating that they may represent a Eurasian Homo Sapiens prototype that had not yet differentiated into regional morphometric varieties as a result of natural selection and genetic drift.  Regardless of whence they came—whether across the Bering Land Bridge or via the North Atlantic ice margin, Paleoamericans are likely to have projected a similar visage.  Later populations in the Americans share craniofacial morphology with Northeast Asians, indicating one or more secondary immigration events after that regional form evolved.


Daniel P. Wagner, Ph.D.

Geo-Sci Consultants University Park, Maryland

Why Cactus Hill

Geoarchaeological circumstances for intact pre-Clovis sites are straightforward. They include sufficient and verifiable antiquity, enduring stability for long-term preservation, and some desirable attribute that was an attractive draw to Paleoamericans. Undoubtedly, a great many if not most early sites were situated on exposed upland positions that are the predominant form across any major land mass, but the majority of such surfaces have too long been subject to the modifying forces of both natural erosion as well as human activity, particularly the ravages attending modern European settlement. Even where upland surfaces have largely been spared truncation or other significant disturbances, those available to pre-Clovis may well also have been utilized by multiple successive inhabitants later in the Pleistocene and through the Holocene. Hence, without as yet agreed upon distinctively defined technologies to sort pre-Clovis groups from later cultures, identifications of pre-Clovis occupations presently rest almost entirely with those in isolated, buried contexts. In this regard Cactus Hill and other pre-Clovis sites provide rare and serendipitous encounters with the distant past.

Deposits and landscapes in the vicinity of Cactus Hill give witness to dynamic, sometimes dramatic transformations both before and after its pre-Clovis occupation, which the principal investigator, Joseph McAvoy, has termed Blade. The Blade level is contained within sandy deposits that are mainly eolian in origin. These sands record a prolonged period of alternating burial and comparative stability commencing before 19,500 14C yr B.P. Blade inhabitants did not arrive until about 3,000 years later when they occupied a level some 60 cm above the base of the sand and an underlying finer textured paleosol. Even as additional sands were accumulating, depositional events were not the sole formational mechanism, and as might be expected with most old landscapes, minor episodes of deflation and other more point-specific disturbances also contributed to landscape evolution. Eventually enough covering sand was amassed to isolate Blade from later occupations and any further effects of surface processes. Elsewhere near the site other landscape changes were much more profound. Only meters away deposits shift abruptly from eolian sand to coarser fluvial sediments of early Holocene age and younger. Indeed, these deposits suggest the current landscape bears little resemblance to a former riverside setting that would have been familiar to Blade and Clovis but not to Early Archaic and later inhabitants.


Bruce Bradley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Experimental Archaeology University of Exeter

Older Than Clovis Bifacial Technologies of Eastern North America

A range of bifacially flaked artifacts from contexts older than Clovis have been identified in Eastern North America. These include bifacial knives and projectile points. This presentation explores the production technologies and life histories of these artifacts, suggests possible antecedents and how they may or may not relate to Clovis and later assemblages.


Michael F. Johnson

PhD candidate in Archeology University of Exeter Research Associate, Gault School of Archeological Research

Results of Modeling Cactus Hill in the Nottoway and Elsewhere

Prior to the Younger-Dryas, Cactus Hill appears to have been a warm season occupation.  The occupation was on the south edge of what appears to have been an abandoned channel of the pre-Younger-Dryas Nottoway River, which now runs north-south along the western edge of the site.  The old channel’s location would almost preclude the site from having been occupied during the winter.  The clay bank under the river edge appears to have protected the overlying pre-Y-D sediments from having been scoured by the Y-D, which is evident in the coarse sands filling the old channel.  We used this summer occupation model to predict two pre-Y-D landforms farther down the Nottoway.  Both landforms were OSL dated to well before 12,900 CYBP.  One site, Rubis-Pearsall (19 miles downriver), produced a buried (35 inches deep) Clovis age component, containing one Jasper fluted point, one quartzite bifacial adz-like tool and an expended  unifacial jasper core along with the associated final flake removed from the core.  Additional small flakes were recovered from as much as 80 inches deep in fine screened, auger core samples, which were too deep to safely pursue.  The other site, Blueberry Hill (1,000 feet inland from Cactus Hill and down river), produced one probable fluted point base approx. ten inches above a Cactus Hill-like point, which was associated with a distinct activity surface containing large to medium sized tools.

Fortunately, the two sites, Rubis-Pearsall and Blueberry Hill, had been largely abandoned culturally after the Y-D, which was not the case with Cactus Hill.  This “abandonment” appears to have been due to shifts in the river course away from the two sites, which again was not the case with Cactus Hill.  Other than the points, the artifacts from the pre-Clovis age Cactus Hill and Blueberry Hill components do not resemble the formal tool assemblage common to Clovis age components.   Clovis age tool types were relatively common at Cactus Hill, particularly in McAvoy’s Blocks A/B and B but, with the exception of the probable fluted point base, they were absent from Blueberry Hill.  One crinoid bead was recovered from the deep activity surface at Blueberry Hill but its small size does not rule out that it may have migrated down through the sandy soil.

Investigation of the broader context for the Cactus Hill pre-Clovis age component is a work in progress.  Cactus Hill-like points have been recovered throughout the Southeast.  Previously they were called variously “Appomattox” points in Virginia.  However, they also may help date the illusive Hardaway Blade, previously documented by Coe (1964).  Based on technology and adherence to the Clovis First model, Hardaway blades were generally assumed to date to after Clovis, although to the author’s knowledge they had not been excavated in stratigraphic association.  Currently, the author is testing a site in the Thoroughfare Watergap, approximately 40 miles west of Washington, DC.  This winter, along with William A. Childress, we are planning a similar testing program in the Smith Mountain Watergap, where several Cactus Hill-like points have been recovered in possible association with Clovis age materials.  The model being used in the watergaps is that watergaps probably served as either transportation (communication) funnels between bands; macro-band coalescence areas during the Paleoamerican period; or both.  The question is, what was holding Clovis age technology together over such vast areas for hundreds of years.  Documenting additional stratified pre-Clovis age activity surfaces is a concurrent objective.


Astolfo Gomes de Mello Araujo, Ph.D.

Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology University of São Paulo, Brazil

 The Archaeological Record of Eastern South America and its Implications on the Clovis / Pre-Clovis Debate

The region that is called today Brazilian territory comprises 48% of South America. The data obtained at Lagoa Santa, together with archaeological information derived from other settings in Brazil, strongly suggests an abrupt and simultaneous appearance of Paleoindians in inland, continental settings, about 11,800 cal BP, inside a polygon whose (minimum) dimensions are about 800 km east-west and 2,300 km north-south, and already showing a very diverse material culture. We will explore the implications that these data impart on the Clovis / Pre-Clovis debate.


Steven R. Holen, Ph.D. and Kathleen Holen

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Percussion Technology in the Americas: Evidence from Bone Assemblages Utilized by Pleistocene Humans

 The use of percussion technology to impact and break the limb bones of large animals for utilization by humans has a record of at least 2.5 million years in human history. Characteristic patterns of impact breakage that include percussion notches, flake scars, impact flakes, percussion marks, and bone flakes have been found on bones that date to at least 33,000 rcybp in North America. This evidence, being primarily qualitative in nature, has been disregarded in the past as conclusive evidence of human presence. Notch measurements that differentiates hammerstone percussion notches from notches produced by teeth based on shape, has brought a quantitative approach to this subject. This paper will present evidence from several North American mammoth and large ungulate limb bone assemblages that demonstrates a recurring pattern of co-occurring taphonomic features which, when found together, support human involvement at sites that predate the Clovis technological complex and place humans in North America in the mid-Wisconsin (OIS-3).