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TOPPER SITE - Pre-Clovis In South Carolina

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Author Topic: TOPPER SITE - Pre-Clovis In South Carolina  (Read 3042 times)
Bianca
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« on: July 14, 2009, 07:44:27 pm »


                      









                                                       T O P P E R   S I T E



                                                   Pre-clovis in South Carolina






By K. Kris Hirst,
About.com

The Topper site is located about 80 kilometers from the Atlantic coast of North American within the Savannah River coastal plain. The site is deeply buried within the fill of a raised terrace and colluvium parallel to the current Savannah River channel, to depths of perhaps five meters and more.

The Topper site has been occupied for more than 10,000 years, including stratified components from Late Prehistoric to Clovis. Below the Clovis period occupation, archaeologists found charcoal concentrations and chert that excavator Al Goodyear believes are representative of preclovis. Two Preclovis occupations have been recorded at Topper.

An in-press article in the Journal of Archaeological Science addresses the geomorphology and dating
of the Topper site's preclovis occupations. The upper assemblage appears to date to ca. 15,000 RCYBP; the lower is older than 50,000 RCYBP (the upper limit of radiocarbon testing).

AMS dates on wood charcoal and humic acids within the soils of the preclovis sites, and OSL dates were taken during a study of the geomorphology in and in-press in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Artifacts from the preclovis occupations of Topper are both described as a smashed core and microlithic industry. Those materials have not been completely published to date.

Archaeological studies at Topper have been conducted by Al Goodyear for some 20 years. The site excavations are ongoing and more things will undoubtedly be found.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 07:49:13 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2009, 07:47:07 pm »




             

              ALLENDALE EXPEDITION
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Bianca
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2009, 07:54:16 pm »





             
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 07:55:36 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2009, 07:56:00 pm »




             
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 09:25:05 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2009, 08:07:03 pm »




             


               The Topper site and its close environment

               red - the Topper site

               gray - chert outcrops










Chert is a fine-grained silica-rich cryptocrystalline sedimentary rock that throughout tool-making prehistoric times was used by early humans for making tools and and for striking sparks to make fire. Even in later historic times one major use for chert was as flints in flintlock firearms.

It is no coincidence that the Topper site is right in the midst of a major outcrop of this most useful stone type. Even its oldest human users were there for the chert.
 


The Topper site had been known as a source of chert to local people for a long time but it only came to the attention of professional archaeologists in 1981 during a survey of chert sources when a local resident, the eponymous David Topper, showed it to Dr. Albert Goodyear III of the University of South Carolina.

Three years later, Dr. Goodyear started excavating Topper - and has never looked back. What he found has shaken up north American prehistory and incidentally bringing it into line with the latest results of south American archaeology where dates older than 12,000 years had become ever more frequent. It has been, and still is, a rather painful experience for some US archaeologists who have for decades pushed the "Clovis first" theory (i.e. the idea that the Clovis people from around 12,000 years ago onwards were the first human inhabitants of America). This pain is usually circumambulated in the US by calling the Topper findings "controversial". A site that in one fell swoop pushes back the known frontier of north American prehistory from around 12,000 years to 20,000 and to perhaps as much as 50,000 years is bound to be controversial, even without the "Clovis first" theory to add spice to the sauce. Excavations at Topper continue and analysis of the finds is far from complete, new surprises and controversies are sure to erupt. What is beyond question is that Topper is among the the most important archaeological sites ever found in the Americas - and that it will remain among the top few even if its most sensational claims cannot be confirmed.

The Topper site is not a cave or rock shelter site in which the archaeological strata have been shelter throughout the milennia from the worst weather and other naural forces can do. The site is open to rain and flowing waters. This tend sto mix up layers and artefacts and makes dating much more difficult, thereby providing room for more future controversies.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 09:25:52 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2009, 08:08:48 pm »




             
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2009, 08:12:49 pm »










                                                   A Sequence of Discovery






1998:
Digging below Clovis levels. Unusual and unclassifiable stone tools are discovered 2 m below the surface.

1999:
Independent outside geologists visit the Topper site, are intrigued and propose a thorough geological study of the site.

2000:
The proposed geological study is carried out and confirms the ice age soil of the pre-Clovis strata.

2001:
Geological samples of plant remains taken from levels above the pre-Clovis strata date these by OSL (Optically Stimulated Luminescence method) to at least 14,000 years.

2002:
Geological samples from new profiles with layers between Clovis and pre-Clovis show pre-Clovis to date back to 16,000 to 20,000 years.

2003:
More pre-Clovis finds are being made.

2004:
Hand- excavation reaches 4 m below ground surface. Tools similar to the pre-Clovis tools found in the higher levels keep being found. A black stain in the soil (called the "Hearth") provdes sufficient charcoal for C14 dating which results in a date of 50,000 at the outermost level of the C14 method's range.
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Bianca
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2009, 08:14:23 pm »



             









                                                       Strata and Excavation


 
 

The Topper Strata 1999



Dres. Mike Waters and Steve Forman examine Topper's Holocene-Pleistocene stratigraphy:

0 -100 cm zone - Mississipian/Clovis

100 - 200 cm zone - Pleistocene Alluvium (white area 16-20,000 years before present)

200 - 270 cm zone - Pleistocene Terrace
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 08:17:28 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2009, 08:18:46 pm »




             






The Topper strata 2005




black dots: post-Clovis (Archaic and Wooland) Indian tools

blue dots: Clovis tools

red dots: pre-Clovis artefacts
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 08:20:40 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2009, 08:21:39 pm »




               

               Dr. Alfred Goodyear,
               discoverer and
               chief excavator
               of the
               Topper site.

 

« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 08:23:06 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2009, 08:24:06 pm »




               






                The most ancient discovery at the Topper site
                so far has been found 4 m from the surface:

                a deposit of charcoal named "Hearth",
                dating to perhaps as much as 50,000 years ago.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 08:25:50 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2009, 08:27:48 pm »




             






The main Topper excavation site is explained at the Topper Conference of October 2005 to attentive participants by Dr. Goodyear.



1 - Clovis levels

2 - late (upper) pre-Clovis levels

3 - Dr. Goodyear

4 - Location of the "Hearth"
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 08:28:51 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2009, 08:29:54 pm »




             


              A mechanically excavated exploratory trench at the Topper site,
              clearly showing the layered archaeological strata.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 08:30:49 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2009, 08:31:56 pm »




             







 

The riverbed strata of the Topper site:



1. present

2. Clovis era (ca. 13,000 years before present)

3. Red soil (17-19,000 years before present)

4. Pleistocene riverbed
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 08:32:55 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2009, 08:34:01 pm »





             






Topper Clovis Tools 


 
Left: Classical Clovis tools were found in the first meter or so of the site.

Left is a typical example of an "industrial floor" where Clovis tools were
"manufactured" in masses over long periods
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 08:35:27 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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