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Archaeologists Discover One of the Oldest Known Clovis Sites in North America

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Author Topic: Archaeologists Discover One of the Oldest Known Clovis Sites in North America  (Read 339 times)
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« on: August 15, 2014, 01:20:10 am »

A clear quartz Clovis point found near the bone bed at El Fin del Mundo.
Although very difficult to shape into a tool, quartz was used by Clovis tool makers at several sites.
(Courtesy INAH Sonora)

In addition to shedding light on the historical longevity of the ancient elephants, the find perhaps more importantly may broaden our understanding of the Clovis, thought by many to have been the continent’s first widespread indigenous culture.

Like many things in American archaeology, when and where the Clovis culture originated are topics of debate.

But the dates from El Fin del Mundo eclipse almost every other reliably dated Clovis site on record, including Montana’s Anzick site, which produced the remains of a 13,00o-year-old Clovis boy.
[Read about a recent breakthrough in the study of Clovis DNA: "Genome of America’s Only Clovis Skeleton Reveals Origins of Native Americans"]

Only a bison-hunting camp known as the Aubrey site, discovered in North Texas in 1988 and dated to more than 13,400 calendar years ago, is definitively older, Holliday and his colleagues said.

And the presence of early Clovis sites so far south may suggest that the culture actually arose in the Southwest, they noted, and not in the northern Great Plains, as many have previously theorized.

“Including Aubrey and now El Fin del Mundo in the corpus of dated Clovis sites raises the possibility that Clovis originated in the south,” they write in their study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And if it did originate in the North, they add, then the Clovis culture must date back even farther than 13,500 years in order for its members to have reached these southern latitudes.

All told, the evidence emerging from El Fin Del Mundo promises to revise our understanding of the continent’s most influential native cultures, from its practices and its range to the ancient environment with which it interacted so successfully.

As the team concludes in its paper, “These data expand our understanding of the age range for Clovis, Clovis diet, raw material preference, and the late Pleistocene megafaunal assemblage of North America, and provide evidence for a southern origin of the Clovis.”
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