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New Evidence for Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern North American Outer Continental Shelf at the Last Glacial Maximum


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Mastodon remains dated to 22,760 RCYBP were recovered with a bifacial laurel leaf knife from 250 ft below sea level on the outer continental shelf of Virginia. This chapter reports the results of our research concerning this find and an on-going survey of the extensive archaeological collections of the Smithsonian and other repositories including large private collections that are representative of the Chesapeake Bay drainage system. We located additional laurel leaf specimens recovered by watermen working on the continental shelf. The study indicates that these bifaces are not part of the post last glacial maximum (LGM) technologies and, therefore, support an LGM occupation of the continental shelf of North America.
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Chapter 5
New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic
Occupation of the Eastern North American
Continental Shelf at the Last Glacial Maximum
Dennis Stanford, Darrin Lowery, Margaret Jodry, Bruce A. Bradley,
Marvin Kay, Thomas W. Stafford and Robert J. Speakman
D. Stanford () · M. Jodry
Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, 20560 Washington, DC, USA
M. Jodry
D. Lowery
Geology Department, University of Delaware, 101 Penny Hall,
19716 Newark, DE, USA
B. A. Bradley
Department of Archaeology Laver Building, University of Exeter, EX4 4QE, Exeter, UK
M. Kay
Anthropology Department, Old Main 330, University of Arkansas, 72701 Fayetteville, AR, USA
T. W. Stafford
Stafford Laboratories Inc., 5401 Western Avenue, Suite C,
80301 Boulder, CO, USA
R. J. Speakman
Center for Applied Isotope Studies, University of Georgia, 30602 Athens, GA, USA
Researchers have postulated the presence of submerged archaeological deposits on
the Middle Atlantic continental shelf of North America for decades (Emery and
Edwards 1966; Edwards and Emery 1977; Kraft et al. 1983). However, archaeologi-
cal discoveries on the continental shelf made during commercial shellfish dredging
have gone unrecorded or have escaped detection. By contrast, numerous vertebrate
remains including the bones, teeth, and skulls of mammoth, mastodon, and walrus
A. M. Evans et al. (eds.), Prehistoric Archaeology on the Continental Shelf,
DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-9635-9_5, © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014
74 D. Stanford et al.
have been reportedly discovered by deep-sea fishermen and dredgers on the conti-
nental shelf (Edwards and Merrill 1977; Whitmore et al. 1967).
In 1974, Captain Thurston Shawn and the crew of Cinmar, a scallop trawler
working 100 km east of the Virginia Capes, were dredging at a depth of 70 m
(Fig. 5.1). Just after starting their run, the dredge became very heavy and when
reeled in, it contained a mastodon skull. While cleaning the bone from the dredge,
a large bifacially flaked rhyolite knife was discovered. Shawn carefully plotted the
water depth and the exact location of the find on his navigation charts and noted
that all of these items were dredged at the same time. To expedite getting back to
dredging, the Cinmar crew broke up the skull and removed the tusks and teeth for
souvenirs, throwing the rest of the bone overboard. Later the tusks were sawn into
pieces and distributed among the crew.
Fig. 5.1  Last Glacial Maximum Susquehanna River drainage showing locations of the Cinmar
site and Ryolite Quarry
5 New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern …
Captain Shawn retained for himself a tusk section, a complete tooth and the
biface, and gave one of the molars to his sister, Mrs. Sylvia Cannon of Mathews,
Virginia. Shawn was not an artifact or fossil collector and, subsequently, sold his
specimens to Dean Parker of Hudgens, Virginia. Parker in turn loaned them to the
Gwynn’s Island Museum where they have been on exhibit since 1974 (Stanford and
Bradley 2012).
The significance of the Cinmars discovery was not recognized until Darrin
Lowery conducted an archaeological survey in Mathews County, Virginia, and saw
the biface, mastodon tooth, and tusk segment at the museum. Subsequent interviews
with Captain Shawn and his sister confirmed the fact that all of the specimens were
recovered at the same time and place, as described here. The importance of the
Cinmar evidence concerning the timing of the New World settlement and human
occupation of the now-submerged coastal settings initiated the study reported here.
The find location, designated the Cinmar site, is on the edge of the outer conti-
nental shelf, south of the last glacial maximum (LGM) Susquehanna Paleo-River
Valley, which is referred to as the Cape Charles channel (Fig. 5.1). During the LGM,
19,000–26,500 years ago (Clark et al. 2009), sea stand is estimated to have been
130 m below the present sea level (Milliman and Emery 1968; Belknap and Kraft
1977). The site was on the edge of the LGM James Peninsula, immediately west of
a LGM barrier island and channel. This terrestrial landscape, which existed between
at least 14,500 years ago and possibly more than 25,000 years ago, would have
been 10–14 meters below sea level (mbsl) by the time Paleoindians occupied North
America approximately 13,500 years ago (Waters and Stafford 2007).
The Cinmar stone tool is a large, thin knife with evidence of well-controlled per-
cussion thinning flake scars on both faces (Fig. 5.2). It represents the workmanship
of a highly skilled flint knapper because rhyolite is very difficult to flake correctly.
The obverse face has a full face, possibly large overshot flake across the basal half.
Because the overshot flake resulted in the removal of an excessive portion of the
artifact’s surface, subsequent flaking adjustments were made, resulting in a slight
longitudinal curve and variable thickness. For measurements and proportions of the
Cinmar stone tool, see Table 5.1.
Table 5.1  Measurements and proportions (in mm) of the Cinmar stone tool
Length 186 (est. 190) Length/maximum width 3.5
Maximum width 54 Maximum width/thickness 7.7
Thickness 6 (at maximum width)
Width at 1/4 length 44 Width at 1/4 length 7.3
Width at 1/2 length 53 Width at 1/2 length 6.6
Width at 3/4 length 39 Width at 3/4 length 4.3 (at “stack”)
Thickness at 1/4 length 6
Mean width ( n = 4)
Thickness at 1/2 length 8
Thickness at 3/4 length 9
76 D. Stanford et al.
Use-Wear Evaluation of the Cinmar Biface
High-power microscopic examination of the artifact using a reflected light, dif-
ferential-interface binocular microscope with polarized light and Nomarski optics
ranging between 100 and 400 diameters identified linear microstriations and polish-
es typical of knife use, including up-and-down and back-and-forth movements on
the distal surfaces of the blade. The proximal end (base) exhibits microscopic linear
striations that are typical of haft wear. Evidence that the knife was resharpened
before being lost or discarded consists of noninvasive percussion retouch along the
distal edges that is not overprinted by use-wear traces. The preserved condition of
the flake scars, together with the preservation of surface microstriations and polish,
indicate that the biface did not experience episodes of redeposition by water trans-
port, nor was it abraded by surf action.
Separating the irregular crystal polygons evident on the banded rhyolite refer-
ence specimens and the artifact from microscopic wear traces proved a simple task,
as the wear traces are largely striated residues, or additive “microplating” features,
Fig. 5.2  The Cinmar Biface
5 New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern …
which develop progressively with tool use (Kay 1996, 1998). Microplating residues
are impervious to ultrasonic cleaning with concentrated strong alkali (KOH) and
acid (HCL), and occur on siliceous artifacts from varied depositional environments
and ages in excess of at least 100,000 years. Experimentation demonstrates that mi-
croplating residues develop and harden coincident with tool use, are a biochemical
byproduct of moisture and direct contact with a material worked by a stone tool or
adhering to it, and, in an elegant way, express tool motion kinematics. Characteristic
of microplating residues are flow features; among them are filled-in striations, des-
iccation cracks on drying, abrasive particle capturing, and crystallization filaments.
Abrasive particles and crystallization filaments occur on the trailing edge or surface
opposite the direction(s) of movement of a tool stroke. They are also instructive of
handholding the tool or complementary movement of the tool in its handle. Micro-
plating features are ubiquitous on the artifact and overprint other tool use-related
abrasion and abrasive wear traces. They do not occur on an examined banded rhyo-
lite comparative specimens and are easily distinguished from the irregular crystal
polygons. These wear traces fall into two complementary categories, due to either
use or from movement in a handle.
The Cinmar biface has diagnostic and common wear traces characteristic of hav-
ing been a hafted knife. The haft wear traces do not resemble those far less devel-
oped and readily observed from handholding an experimental stone knife. The haft
element wear traces (Fig. 5.3, i) are the mirror opposite of the blade element. These
wear traces are indicative of complementary movement within the handle as a result
of tool use. Haft wear includes more extensive abrasive rounding of arises but not
true abrasive planing. The cutting wear traces (Fig. 5.3, j) are invasive and originate
on either blade edge and at the broken tip. Multiple tool strokes are recorded oblique
to the two blade edges and from the tip. The final tool strokes appear to be directed
from the tip, and either further penetrated or were withdrawing from the worked
material. Blade edge angles vary from 55° to 75°. Haft edge angles are 50° or less.
Blade edge steepening with use and resharpening seem likely, especially since the
blade edges only occasionally have use-wear. Most often the wear traces are on the
older and higher flake arises, and it was easiest to track them to these spots. The
blade edges are damaged, mostly rounded and crushed with micro step fractures.
The invasive cutting wear, the tool edge damage, and experimental analogs all point
to this knife having cut through a material that enveloped its surfaces while break-
ing and dulling the tool edges too. The contact material would have had paradoxical
qualities—hard and unyielding and yet soft and allowing deep penetration. Consis-
tent with experimental tool use-wear analogs, the likely and predominant contact
material would have been bone and cartilage within a carcass. This tool appears to
have been a heavy-duty butchering knife that was sharpened at least once and that
ultimately failed in use (Fig. 5.4).
78 D. Stanford et al.
Identification of the Source of the Rhyolite Used to Make
the Cinmar Biface
Volcanic rocks, such as obsidian and rhyolite can be linked to their geologic source
with a high degree of reliability by using analytical techniques such as instrumental
neutron activation analysis (INAA), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and inductively-
coupled plasma mass-spectrometry (ICP-MS). These volcanic rocks typically occur
Fig. 5.3  Oriented photomicrographs of microplating residues and kinematic diagrams of stria-
tions ( colored linear features), abrasive particles ( ovals) and crystallization filaments ( gray-white
“cloud” features) for areas i and j on reverse face of the Cinmar artifact. The inferred directions
of movement for each location are the mirror opposite of the other: area i pertains to the haft ele-
ment, area j the blade element. The final movement is, respectively, diagonal to the longitudinal
axis for the haft element ( i) and just slightly off parallel to the longitudinal axis and bidirectional
for the blade element ( j)
5 New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern …
in spatially discrete and relatively localized contexts. Such sources are typically
chemically homogeneous, and individual sources have unique chemical character-
istics. With sufficient field and laboratory work, the spatial extent of a specific geo-
chemical type of volcanic rock, including primary and secondary deposits, can be
established such that a source area can be defined (Speakman et al. 2007; Glascock
et al. 1998).
As a starting point for the geochemical source study, more than 350 vouchered
rhyolite specimens from eastern US localities ranging from Maine to North Caro-
lina (e.g., rhyolite, metarhyolite, and felsite) housed in the Rock and Ore Collection
of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, Department
of Mineral Sciences, were visually examined. More than 30 samples exhibiting
banding, as well as a few random samples, were analyzed by XRF and compared to
data from the Cinmar biface. When compared to other geologic samples from the
Eastern US, the Cinmar biface is chemically and visually distinct because of its high
(> 800 ppm) Zirconium (Zr) content and its unique banding and color.
Of the eastern US rhyolite samples examined in the National Museum of Natural
History’s mineral collection, only one was identified as a likely match: a sample of
banded metarhyolite (NMNH 60892) from the Catoctin formation of South Moun-
tain, Pennsylvania. The specific provenance of the sample is listed as “Maria Fur-
nace Road, 1 mile from Tom’s Creek Railroad Trestle.” The sample presumably was
collected by Smithsonian archaeologist W.H. Holmes who visited and described
the quarry in 1893–94 (Holmes 1897). Maria Furnace is ca. 10 miles southwest of
Gettysburg on Toms Creek, which is a branch of the Monocacy River. Following
the identification of the probable source as South Mountain, the authors visited the
Maria Furnace locale and collected additional rhyolite samples for XRF analysis.
Fig. 5.4  Use history diagram for the Cinmar biface artefact. a Primary ( gray shaded areas) and
mostly secondary flaking that crosscuts the recently damaged areas exposing the original cortex
( shaded yellow) on both faces. b Functional zones identified by microscopic evaluation of use-
wear on reverse face (haft element is shaded green, blade element cutting wear is red). c Blade
element resharpening ( shaded blue) on both faces
80 D. Stanford et al.
XRF analyses were conducted using a Bruker AXS Tracer III-V XRF. The analy-
ses permitted quantification of the following elements: Mn, Fe, Ga, Rb, Sr, Y, Zr,
Nb. The artifact and geologic specimens were analyzed as unmodified samples. The
instrument is equipped with a rhodium tube and a SiPIN detector with a resolution
of ca. 170 eV FHWM for 5.9 keV X-rays (at 1,000 counts/s) in an area 7 mm
. All
analyses were conducted at 40 keV, 15 µA, using a 0.076-mm copper filter and
0.0306-mm aluminum filter in the X-ray path for a 200-s live-time count. Peak
intensities for the above listed elements were calculated as ratios to the Compton
peak of rhodium, and converted to parts-per-million (ppm) using linear regressions
derived from the analysis of 15 well-characterized rhyolitic glasses that previously
had been analyzed by neutron activation analysis (INAA) and/or XRF.
Metarhyolite from South Mountain is widely recognized as a major lithic source
used for production of prehistoric stone tools throughout the US Middle Atlantic
Region (Stewart 1984, 1987) and an unpublished INAA study (Bonder 2001) has
demonstrated that metarhyolites from South Mountain are chemically discrete from
other sources in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Both visual examination
and chemical analysis confirm that the material used to manufacture the Cinmar
biface originated from the South Mountain Catoctin formation. Examination of the
XRF spectra (Fig. 5.5) and the plots of the data (Fig. 5.6) demonstrate that rhyo-
lite from outcrops near Maria Furnace are most similar chemically to the Cinmar
biface. The authors caution, however, against stating that the stone used to produce
the Cinmar biface originated from the vicinity of Maria Furnace given that numer-
ous Catoctin formation metarhyolite outcrops occur throughout the South Mountain
area of the Pennsylvania Blue Ridge.
Fig. 5.5  Comparison of XRF spectra from the Cinmar biface ( blue) and NMNH 60892 ( red)
5 New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern …
The Mastodon, Carbon Fourteen Dates, and Environment
The diameter of the mastodon tusk section is small, measuring 83 × 73 mm. The
tooth, an upper right third molar, is also small, measuring 90 mm in width across
the tritoloph and 155 mm in length. Wear on the tooth has entered stage 2, indicating
a mature animal of approximately 30 years of age (Saunders 1977). The size and
age characteristics of the molar and tusk indicate that the Cinmar mastodon was a
small female.
Two sections of the tusk were sampled to obtain bone collagen for accelera-
tor mass spectrometry, 14C dating. The resulting age was 22,760 ± 90 RCYBP
(UCIAMS-53545). This age determination is consistent with the LGM sea level
data and led the authors to conclude that the mastodon died on the outer margin of
the continental shelf during the initial phase of the last glacial maximum.
Limited data are available for environmental reconstruction of the mid-Atlantic
outer continental shelf during the last glacial maximum. Freshwater peat dated to
15,500 years ago was dredged from depths of 64–66 m (210–216 feet) near the
Washington Canyon, north of the Cinmar site (Emery et al. 1967). Pollen extracted
from the peat suggests that spruce, water lily, sedge, pine, oak, and fir were growing
Fig. 5.6  Plot of zirconium and strontium-based ten logged concentrations for samples analyzed by
XRF. Data for the Cinmar biface (two replicates are projected against the 90 % confidence ellipse
calculated from six Maria Furnace geologic samples and two replicate analyses of NMNH 60892,
also from Maria Furnace)
82 D. Stanford et al.
on the continental shelf shortly after the last glacial maximum. Another pollen
sample, recently extracted from a soil sample taken from the Miles Point site dated
to greater than 25,500 years ago on the Eastern shore of the Chesapeake, and re-
vealed krummholz yellow birch, red spruce, balsam fir, and C3 grasses (Lowery
et al. 2010). These data are evidence that the adjacent terrestrial vegetation likely
extended as an unbroken biome onto portions of the continental shelf that were dry
land during the LGM. The likelihood of abundant freshwater springs and ponds
along the margin of the continental shelf (Faure et al. 2002), and the shrubby en-
vironment of the adjacent inter barrier island lagoon, as well as a relatively large
number of mastodon remains reported from the continental shelf (Whitmore et al.
1967), indicate an ideal environment to support a reasonable mastodon population.
Rhyolite Artifact Weathering and Patination in Coastal
Plain Environments
The Atlantic coastal plain contains a mix of chemical conditions and environ-
ments that can differentially affect rhyolite (Lowery and Wagner 2012). Rhyolite
or methyolite artifacts that are buried quickly retain a fresh appearance (Fig. 5.7a).
Conditions for rapid burial usually include anthropogenic features created by hu-
man activities. Natural processes also rapidly bury rhyolite artifacts and can re-
sult in fresh unweathered appearances. If a rhyolite artifact erodes from an upland
setting via fetch-related coastal processes, prolonged exposure to the “swash and
berm” zone results in abraded, smoothed surfaces with rounded edges (Fig. 5.7d).
The rhyolite specimen shown in Fig. 5.7d is also patinated, however, the edges
and surface of the point are rounded and polished due to prolonged tumbling and
abrasion in the surf. Inevitably, tidal marshes accrete over former uplands as a by-
product of marine transgression.
As a result of the formation of an overlying tidal marsh, iron-rich rhyolite ar-
tifacts situated within the submerged upland stratum, like Fig. 5.7a, will undergo
sulfidization in the organic-rich anaerobic surroundings. Because the iron in the
rock is chemically altered to dark-colored iron sulfide, the outward appearance
of the rhyolite artifacts in these settings may become darker, resembling the fresh
forms of rhyolite. Slow rates of sea-level rise can erode the archaeological deposits
from the drowned upland stratum beneath the tidal marsh peat. In these environ-
ments, the sulfidized rhyolite artifacts from beneath the anaerobic tidal marsh will
be subjected to aerobic conditions in the nearshore area. During periods of rapid
marine transgression, however, tidal marshes become inundated and bioturbation
by marine organisms will reintroduce oxygen to the underlying archaeological de-
posits. In either of these aerobic settings, the reoxygenated iron-rich artifacts will
undergo the sulfuricization process. As a result, a uniform chemically related sulfu-
ric acid corrosion patina will develop (Fig. 5.7b) on rhyolite artifacts. In buried or
intact settings, rhyolite artifacts will retain sharp cutting edges and any original use
wear (Fig. 5.7c). In abrasive, exposed nearshore and offshore areas, artifacts can
5 New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern …
become dislodged from the intact drowned archaeological deposits. Under these
conditions, the edges of artifacts become heavily rounded (Fig. 5.7de). Depending
on the proximity to the coastline, the dislodged artifacts are tumbled and rounded
by currents in offshore sub-tidal settings or transported to abrasive nearshore areas.
Artifacts exposed for protracted periods of time on the surface of the water bottom
will generally accumulate a mix of attached marine organisms (Fig. 5.7fh). For a
full-detailed discussion of both the sulfidization and the sulfuricization process in
nearshore coastal settings see Lowery and Wagner (2012, pp. 690–697). In contrast
to the variables impacting rhyolite artifacts along shorelines, similar artifacts de-
posited on interior upland archaeological site surfaces will only develop a patina on
surfaces that have been exposed skyward.
The unrounded surfaces retaining use wear with relatively sharp cutting edges
and even patination of the Cinmar biface indicate that the artifact originated from an
intact archaeological deposit. As a result of elevated sea levels at the end of the Ice
Age, ca. 14,500 years ago, tidal marsh peat developed over the archaeological depos-
it containing the Cinmar biface. As a result, the iron in the rhyolite underwent the sul-
fidization process associated with a brief exposure to the organic carbon-rich anaero-
bic tidal marsh surroundings. The accelerated sea level rise during Meltwater Pulse
1A quickly inundated the tidal marsh, and bioturbation from the offshore marine
organisms reintroduced oxygen to the underlying archaeological deposit. The intro-
duction of oxygen caused the Cinmar biface to undergo the effects of sulfuricization.
Like the specimen shown in Fig. 5.7bc, a uniform, chemically mediated, corro-
sion patina developed. Unlike the specimen shown in Fig. 5.7bc, the sulfuric acid
Fig. 5.7  Rhyolite artifacts exposed to marine and near shore environments. a Unaltered artifact
from a buried onshore environment. b, c Artifacts patinated by chemical corrosion. d Edge of arti-
fact subjected to prolonged abrading in the surf. e Chemically corroded artifact subjected to surf
abrasion. fh Marine organisms attached to rhyolite artifacts
84 D. Stanford et al.
corrosion patina on the Cinmar biface is noticeably less. The degree of patina can
be equated to the duration of exposure to the anaerobic conditions when buried be-
neath an overlying tidal marsh. Given the slow rates of late Holocene sea level rise
(Fig. 5.8) for the Middle Atlantic (Nikitina et al. 2000) and the documented one-
meter thickness of tidal marsh peat overlying the drowned archaeological deposit
that produced the artifact shown in Fig. 5.7bc, the authors conclude that this artifact
was subjected to at least 1,000 years of exposure to sulfidizing anaerobic conditions.
Lowery and Wagner (2012) have concluded that sulfuricization can occur very
rapidly once aerobic conditions are restored. In contrast, the setting associated with
Fig. 5.8  The Cinmar site relative to Middle Atlantic Isostatic and Global Eustatic Sea Level data.
(Based on Mallinson et al. 2005; Oldale et al. 1993)
5 New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern …
the Cinmar biface was exposed to sulfidizing anaerobic conditions of a tidal marsh
for only a short period of time. The shortened duration and exposure to sulfidizing
conditions resulted in limited patination to the surface of the Cinmar biface once
the site was completely drowned and aerobic conditions were restored. The rates of
sea-level rise (3.7–4 m per century) postulated at the onset of Meltwater Pulse 1A c
14,500 years ago (Weaver et al. 2003) would mean that the Cinmar site was situated
in a nearshore tidal marsh environment for only a short period of time. The resultant
situation limited the artifact’s exposure to sulfidizing conditions and the rapid rates
of marine transgression inundated the site before the archaeological deposit was
eroded or disturbed.
A detailed overview of the chemical conversion of iron oxides to iron sulfides
in coastal setting soils has been presented by Fanning et al. (2010) and the same
process seems to impact iron-rich silicate artifacts in coastal tidal marsh settings
(Lowery and Wagner 2012). The rapid conversion of iron oxides in stone artifacts to
iron sulfides takes place chemically by reaction with dissolved sulfide in sea water.
The chemical reaction represents the microbial reduction of sulfate during oxidation
of organic matter in tidal marshes. The reduction of iron oxides in stone artifacts
by hydrogen sulfide results in the formation of both iron monosulfides and iron di-
sulfides (pyrite). The black monosulfides that result tend both to form quickly and
to fade quickly upon exposure to oxygen. Exposure to oxygen can be the result of
bioturbation in an offshore setting or simply a by-product of being brought to the
surface. Pyrite (FeS
) takes more time to form in an artifact and it is more persistent
after formation. With respect to the patination observed on the Cinmar biface, some
portion of the iron oxide in the parent rock was also altered to pyrite by long-term
exposure to the anaerobic conditions of a tidal marsh. When a stone artifact experi-
ences an aerobic environment, acidity is generated from the oxidation of the sul-
fides, and the hydrolysis of the iron. Bioturbation within a drowned tidal marsh peat
deposit introduces oxygen into the deeper anaerobic strata. In an aerobic setting, the
surface of the artifact creates its own chemical weathering patina.
When the Cinmar biface was dredged from the bottom, it was already patinated.
The conditions outlined above would explain why the Cinmar biface is uniformly
weathered or patinated on all surfaces, which is unlike the asymmetrical patination
typical of rhyolite artifacts lying on the surface in a terrestrial environment.
Questions of Association
The question of whether or not the biface was associated with the mastodon remains
is critically important for an accurate interpretation. Did Paleolithic people use the
knife while butchering the mastodon or was the close spatial relationship fortu-
itous? There are three kinds of events that might have produced a spurious associa-
tion between the artifact and the mastodon remains: lateral transport, prehistoric
coincident, and fraud. These possibilities are dealt with in turn.
86 D. Stanford et al.
Lateral Transport
The biface was initially deposited elsewhere and was transported to a location near
the mastodon remains via fluvial or tidal processes, or perhaps even dredged from
another location some distance away from the mastodon bone. The authors reject
this hypothesis for the following reasons:
Redeposition of a large stone tool in a high energy water transport system is
known to produce taphonomic alterations that modify flake scars and tool edges,
and overprint microscopic use-wear polish and striations with signatures of trans-
port that include fractured or rounded tool edges (Shea 1999; Grosman et al. 2011),
flattening of dorsal ridges, and patterns of abrasion that are similarly expressed
on the distal and proximal ends of artifacts subjected to redepositional forces. The
combined effects of sediment and debris-laden ocean currents tumbling the knife,
had it washed out to sea, would have compromised the flake ridges and knife edges
and obliterated the microscopic polish and use-wear scars. Moreover, lithic artifacts
eroded from coastal prehistoric sites stay within the “swash and berm” zone (Low-
ery 2003) and move laterally along the shoreline, and over the long-term they are
redeposited inshore, not offshore (Lowery 2008).
It might be conjectured that the knife was dredged and dragged from another
location before the trawler hit the mastodon remains. This hypothesis is rejected for
the following reasons:
The dredge consists of a welded iron frame with a flat iron bar that drags along
the bottom. As the flat iron bar at the bottom of the dredge scrapes the sea floor,
scallops and other objects on the surface of the sea floor enter the dredge and are
captured. Behind the dredge is a large enclosure with a series of welded iron bars
with interwoven iron rings, or a monofilament seine-like bag. The sizes of the
interwoven iron rings vary but the mesh is generally between 4 and 5 in. (~ 10
and 13 cm). The mesh size limits what is retrieved from the bottom. Smaller
objects usually slip through the rings and only the larger objects are brought to
the surface. Archaeological objects on the Middle Atlantic continental shelf may
have escaped detection by commercial shell fishermen because small artifacts
such as debitage, flake tools, and projectile points less than 10–15 cm lying on
the surface of the continental shelf would easily fall through the larger size of
mesh of the equipment used to scrape the bottom for scallops before being lifted
to the surface. The large size of the dredge scalloping mesh may explain why
large Ice Age animal remains are commonly reported from drowned localities
on the Middle Atlantic continental shelf, while lithic or bone artifacts are rarely
reported. In the case of the discovery made by Captain Thurston Shawn, the large
size of the artifact allowed it to be recovered.
The scallop dredge is tethered to the boat by a line or a large cable. Scallop
fishermen prefer to dredge stretches of the ocean floor with common or uniform
bathymetric depths to ensure that the dredge remains on the bottom. The distance
that a dredge travels across the bottom at a common or uniform bathymetric
5 New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern …
depth can vary greatly. Generally, the captain or crew gauge the dredge retrieval
time based on the stresses placed on the boat. The stresses on the boat are caused
by the weight of material trapped in the dredge. As such, a scallop dredge can
be pulled across the sea floor for either short or long distances. The distance
traveled across the floor depends on how quickly the dredge is filled with scal-
lops and other debris. In the case of the Cinmar discovery, the stress caused by
the weight of a mastodon skull and associated tusks caused the transect run to
be terminated and the dredge pulled and cleaned as soon as the remains were
encountered. Because the biface was only slightly damaged by the iron frame,
bars and rings of the dredge the artifact was not pulled for any distance across the
sea floor, and therefore was dredged at relatively the same time as the mastodon
The interpretation is that, the skull and knife were deposited together as part of a
single archaeological assemblage. Again, if they were moved for any significant
distance by the dredge, they would have been heavily damaged by tumbling in the
metal framework of the trawlers net. Moreover, Shawn reported that they had just
begun a transect when they encountered the heavy weight of the bones causing the
net to be reeled in unexpectedly. Trawlers in this area run parallel to the coastline
in order to maintain a constant fishing depth, so if the knife was not associated with
the bone, it would have been situated at the same elevation, and because of the an-
aerobic modification of the rhyolite it would have had to have been dredged from
an ancient saltwater marsh, as were the bones. Thus, given the fresh untumbled sur-
faces and sharp edges of the Cinmar biface, and the matching amount of oxidation
color change on both the biface and mastodon remains, the authors conclude that
the knife originated from an archaeological deposit associated with the mastodon or
near where the mastodon was dredged from the sea floor.
Prehistoric Coincident
The knife was lost or deliberately thrown overboard by a prehistoric mariner
traveling the ocean subsequent to sea-level rise and it came to rest with or near the
The authors submit that hypothesis 2 is a priori extraordinarily weak because of
the near absence of laurel leaf bifaces in the later middle Atlantic archaeological
record, coupled with the odds against some prehistoric hunter losing a knife while
on an ocean voyage some 100 km out in the Atlantic and that same knife settling
down over 70 m onto the same area in the ocean floor where a mastodon died mil-
lennia earlier. Moreover, if such an event had transpired, the artifact would not have
been subjected to the chemical environment that caused the geochemical patination
and weathering of its surfaces. The 16 m or more rise in eustatic sea level in less
than 300 years quickly drowned the tidal marsh and the sediments were partially
88 D. Stanford et al.
The short-term exposure of the iron-rich stone artifact to the anaerobic condi-
tions of the tidal marsh limited the degree of patination; however, the localized
acidic condition created by the reoxygenation of the site resulted in a uniform color
change of both faces of the knife.
The association of the knife and the mastodon skull was fabricated. This hypothesis
is rejected because the discoverers received no glory from their find, unlike the
typical archaeological fraud. Moreover, it would seem unlikely that from all the ar-
tifacts that would have been accessible for fraudulent activities, the perpetrators of
a fraud would likely not have had a rare laurel leaf biface, let alone that they might
understand the cultural and temporal significance of a laurel leaf. It is important to
remember that both the mastodon remains and the biface had also been on display
since 1976 with a label outlining the circumstances of their discovery.
Thus, the authors conclude that the Cinmar discovery has major implications
for understanding New World prehistory. If the artifact is associated with the
22,760 RCYBP radiocarbon date, it would imply that humans were living on the
LGM continental shelf of eastern North America at least 10,000 years before any
other reliable radiocarbon dated archaeological sites. If it is not associated with the
mastodon in the freshwater marsh, the biface would be no younger than the salt-
water marsh formed at the onset of Meltwater Pulse 1A, making it at its youngest
2,000 years before the advent of Clovis, and is the oldest dated formal tool yet found
in the Americas.
The distance from the Cinmar site to the rhyolite sources in Pennsylvania is near-
ly 320 km, suggesting that by the time the Cinmar biface was manufactured, early
cultures had explored the interior of the Chesapeake drainage basin and discovered
useable stone resources. Therefore, the Cinmar date is an estimate for the timing of
human occupation in eastern North America and it nearly doubles the length of hu-
man occupation in the New World.
Chesapeake Bay Bifaces
The Cinmar biface is typologically unusual for the Middle Atlantic region. It is
significant that only three laurel leaf-shaped bifaces were identified during an
inventory of the Smithsonian Institution’s extensive archaeological collection of
nearly 300,000 artifacts from the Middle-Atlantic region representing Paleo-Indian
through historic time periods. The authors also examined private collections from
the region, collections at artifact shows, and conducted an artifact identification
weekend at Gwynn’s Island that resulted in identifying eight additional bifaces.
5 New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern …
All but one of these bifaces were found within the Chesapeake Bay drainage
system (Fig. 5.9). The single outlier came from sand dredged from offshore to re-
plenish the beach at Ocean City, Maryland. Another was found while leveling a
LGM sand dune (Fig. 5.9, 4) and a third was found eroding out of the LGM terrace
adjacent to the Susquehanna River in Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania (Fig. 5.9, 5). A
large quartzite biface in the Smithsonian’s collection was found at Hampton, Vir-
ginia and donated to the museum in 1868 (Fig. 5.9, 2). The rest of these specimens
were dredged from the Chesapeake Bay.
A specimen made of local quartzite was dredged from the shallow water between
Tar Bay and Punch Island Creek off Dorchester County, Maryland (Fig. 5.10c). This
Fig. 5.9  Locations of Chesapeake Bay laurel leaf bifaces: 1 Cinmar site; 2 Hampton, Virginia;
3 Ocean City, Maryland; 4 Gore site; 5 Dauphin County, Pennsylvania; 6 Tar Bay, Maryland; 7
Taylors Island, Maryland; 8 and 9 Mopjack, Bay Virginia
90 D. Stanford et al.
specimen was at one time in the near shore zone and is an example of damage seen
on artifacts that have been heavily tumbled by “swash and berm action.” Another
specimen (Fig. 5.10d) was found within a drowned upland landscape underneath a
thick covering of tidal marsh peat on the west side of Taylors Island, in Dorchester
County, Maryland. The knife is made of jasper; however, because it was sulfidized
in the tidal marsh, it is highly stained, preventing identification of the source ma-
terial. A large knife (Fig. 5.10a) made of quartzite was dredged from the bottom
of Mopjack Bay near Norfolk, Virginia. Use-wear studies suggest that it was not
hafted, but rather it was hand-held. A heavily resharpened biface (Fig. 5.10e), was
also dredged from Mopjack Bay. Like the Cinmar biface, this tool was made of
banded rhyolite and was used as a hafted knife.
It is important that these specimens were found in circumstances indicating that
they were used and lost on the now-submerged continental shelf or the adjacent
lowlands along the LGM Susquehanna River channel. It is also evident that they
were all heavy-duty tools; likely used for butchering larger animals such as mast-
odons rather than smaller fauna.
If people settled eastern North America sometime between 23,000 and
15,000 years ago, why has this earlier archaeological record been so elusive? Per-
haps one reason is that the initial population of Paleolithic people favored the rich
diversity of the terrestrial and aquatic habitats of the now-submerged Continental
margins and adjacent major drowned river systems. As these coastal ecosystems
shifted westward due to rapidly rising sea levels approximately 14,500 years ago
and as the human population increased, settlement accelerated into the upland inte-
rior, whose archaeological record is not buried as it is on the inundated coastal plain.
Fig. 5.10  Laurel leaf bifaces from underwater contexts. a Mopjake Bay. b Cinmar. c Heavily
tumbled biface from Tar Bay. d Taylors Island. e Heavily resharpened knife from Mopjack Bay
5 New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern …
It is important to note that the manufacturing technology used to produce the
Chesapeake Bay bifaces and the tool types themselves reflect the same technol-
ogy as that used by the Solutrean people of southwestern Europe during the LGM
(Stanford and Bradley 2012). Although more evidence is needed, it is not beyond
the realm of possibility to hypothesize that this early settlement of the East Coast
of North America resulted from a European Paleolithic maritime tradition. There
is little question that the Cinmar discovery indicates that exciting new chapters
in the story of Paleolithic people will be uncovered as archaeologists continue to
investigate the continental shelves of oceans worldwide (Earlandson 2001). (Note:
Funding has been obtained to conduct remote sensing survey of the area of sea floor
noted by Capt. Shawn during the summer of 2013).
Acknowledgements We thank our friends from Gwynn Island for their support, especially Jean
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... At the time 18QU1047 was occupied, sea levels were approximately >120 to ~78 meters (>400 to ~256 feet) lower than present and Parsons Island was an arid interior upland setting (see Faure et al. 2002) far removed from the Atlantic coastline. A few discoveries (see Stanford et al. 2014) offer equivocal indications that the Paleo-Americans who once occupied 18QU1047 may have also been interested in coastal environments circa 20,500 and 15,000 years ago. ...
... The 18QU1047 bipoint bifaces are largely complete and still useful. Comparable bipoint knife forms have been reported at ambiguous Paleo-American inundated site contexts (see Stanford et al. 2014), as well as supposed Clovis caches (see Huckell 2014: Figure 8.3 A). ...
... These specimens, however, all lack datable contexts (see Figure 5.2) and only one (i.e., the Cinmar biface) has any potential chronological time constraints. The time constraints for the Cinmar biface are estimated based solely on radiometrically-dated isostatic sea level positions for the Middle Atlantic coast (see Stanford et al. 2014). Bifaces analogous to the Cinmar example are extremely rare. ...
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The monograph focuses on the archaeological resources associated with an eroding coastal island in the central Chesapeake Bay. The late Pleistocene aeolian geology and recent coastal erosion are the primary topics of interest. The monograph also focuses on the geoarchaeological investigations and the field data gathered from 18QU1047 over a seven-year period between 2013 and 2020.
... How one finds and studies this submerged record is, however, far from simple. Later sections will deal with questions of predicting or targeting site locations using the known, terrestrial record, geophysical data, and hydrodynamic processes, but the reality remains that the majority of the archaeology emerging from submerged cultural landscapes is the result of chance discoveries, with finds often deriving from commercial activities such as trawling or aggregate extraction and coming to light through increasing numbers of "citizen scientist" collectors (Reid 1890(Reid , 1913Louwe Koojimans 1972;Van Kolfschoten and Laban 1995;Glimmerveen et al. 2004;Hublin et al. 2009;Stanford et al. 2014;Chang et al. 2015;Bailey et al. 2017;Li et al. 2018;Amkreutz and van der Vaart-Verschoof 2021;Bynoe et al. 2021). An unfortunate consequence is that many of these finds lack context, a fact that, at least historically, has led to their archaeological value being overlooked. ...
... The picture from the seaboard of the USA is also gradually increasing, with a growing body of evidence enduring since the earliest occupation of the Americas (Faught and Gusick 2011;Stanford et al. 2014;Robinson et al. 2020). Halligan (2021a) discusses using complementary methodologies on both sides of the waterline in the Aucilla River, Florida, for the understanding of past human lifeways and response to environmental change over more than 14,000 years. ...
... Disturbance may also include scour marks, anchor drags, and dredging operations, (although some of the latter have actually been responsible for the discovery of many prehistoric submerged sites (e.g. Hublin et al. 2009;Stanford et al. 2014)). ...
... Additionally, many potential early sites are being investigated on the Atlantic continental shelf where Pleistocene faunal remains of mammoth, mastodon, and walrus have been recovered by fisherman and during dredging operations at least as early as the 1960s (Edwards and Merrill 1977;Whitmore et al. 1967). One such incident in 1974 dredged up a mastodon skull and a large bifacially flaked knife made out of rhyolite, referred to as the Cinmar biface and was just recently reported (Stanford et al. 2014). ...
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Hunter-gatherers are foundational to anthropology. Ethnographic accounts of foragers have been essential in building classic anthropological theories of human evolution, kinship, social organization, and religion. From these studies, a normative view of foragers as simple, highly mobile, egalitarian band societies with limited or no property/ownership, emerged and continues to be pervasive in the discipline. This larger issue frames the central problems addressed in this dissertation. It concerns hunter-gatherer societies and how they are effected by hunting architecture, such as drive lanes, animal corrals, and fishing weirs. These comparable built elements are found across time, space, and cultures because they are conditioned by similar traits in animal behavior. Subsistence strategies adopting such hunting features present a fundamental shift in exploitation by actively modifying the landscape (i.e. niche construction) to increase the yield and predictability of natural resources. It is argued that the creation and use of hunting architecture is among the most significant subsistence innovations in prehistory prior to the origins of agriculture; as similar to large-scale food production, the adoption of hunting architecture has demonstrable social and economic repercussions. This dissertation investigates the global phenomenon of hunting architecture by drawing on a regional case study – caribou hunting in the Great Lakes, where some of the oldest hunting structures (9,380-8,830 cal yr BP) have been submerged beneath Lake Huron. The preservation of a virtually unmodified, culturally engineered landscape underwater is an ideal laboratory for investigating broader issues. New underwater research conducted for this dissertation provides an unprecedented view of forager societies and hunting architecture in the past, problematizing our normative characterization of prehistoric hunter-gatherers. Ultimately, this dissertation makes contributions to three core areas; the local archaeological problem of Great Lakes caribou hunters, the theoretical anthropological problem of hunting architecture and forager lifeways, and lastly, the global problem of conducting inundated archaeology. It provides a model for anthropological archaeology underwater and demonstrates that submerged prehistoric research can contribute to anthropology’s most significant questions.
... The issues related to these data gaps distort not only the archaeological record for the Old World, but affect that of the New World, too. Indeed, the peopling of the Western Hemisphere is most likely written on submerged lands in a way that is not yet fully understood [22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]. Unequivocal archaeological sites have been identified in the New World that date back 14,500 years, i.e., almost a millennium before the advent of the widespread Clovis culture, and almost two millennia before the ice-free corridor from Beringia was an option for migration [27,30]. ...
... Unequivocal archaeological sites have been identified in the New World that date back 14,500 years, i.e., almost a millennium before the advent of the widespread Clovis culture, and almost two millennia before the ice-free corridor from Beringia was an option for migration [27,30]. Models for the peopling of the Americas have recently shifted to involve coastal or maritime routes along now submerged coasts [22,29,[31][32][33][34][35]. [36]. ...
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Acoustic response from lithics knapped by humans has been demonstrated to facilitate effective detection of submerged Stone Age sites exposed on the seafloor or embedded within its sediments. This phenomenon has recently enabled the non-invasive detection of several hitherto unknown submerged Stone Age sites, as well as the registration of acoustic responses from already known localities. Investigation of the acoustic-response characteristics of knapped lithics, which appear not to be replicated in naturally cracked lithic pieces (geofacts), is presently ongoing through laboratory experiments and finite element (FE) modelling of high-resolution 3D-scanned pieces. Experimental work is also being undertaken, employing chirp sub-bottom systems (reflec-tion seismic) on known sites in marine areas and inland water bodies. Fieldwork has already yielded positive results in this initial stage of development of an optimised Human-Altered Lithic Detection (HALD) method for mapping submerged Stone Age sites. This paper reviews the maritime archaeological perspectives of this promising approach, which potentially facilitates new and improved practice, summarizes existing data, and reports on the present state of development. Its focus is not Citation: Grøn, O.; Boldreel, L.O.; Smith, M.F.; Joy, S.; Boumda, R.T.; Mäder, A.; Bleicher, N.; Madsen, B.; Cvikel, D.; Nilsson, B.; et al. Acoustic Mapping of Submerged Stone Age Sites-A HALD Approach. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 445. https://doi.
... If coasts were regularly occupied during the Pleistocene, technological patterns may differ significantly from better documented inland areas. Since stone artefacts also preserve well in the archaeological record, they will be critical for identifying drowned archaeological sites (Stanford et al., 2014). Stone artefact assemblages can also be used to reconstruct important regional-scale behavioural processes such as mobility. ...
There are few archaeological sites that contain records for Pleistocene coastal occupation in Australia, as is the case globally. Two major viewpoints seek to explain why so few sites exist. The first is that the Pleistocene coast was a relatively marginal environment where fluctuating sea levels actively inhibited coastal resource productivity until the mid-to-late Holocene. The second position suggests that the Pleistocene coast (and its resources) was variably productive, potentially hosting extensive populations, but that the archaeological evidence for this occupation has been submerged by sea level rise. To help reconcile these perspectives in Australia, this paper provides a review, discussion, and assessment of the evidence for Australian Pleistocene coastal productivity and occupation. In doing so, we find no reason to categorically assume that coastal landscapes were ever unproductive or unoccupied. We demonstrate that the majority of Pleistocene coastal archaeology will be drowned where dense marine faunal assemblages should only be expected close to palaeo-shorelines. Mixed terrestrial and marine assemblages are likely to occur at sites located >2 km from Pleistocene shorelines. Ultimately, the discussions and arguments put forward in this paper provide a basic framework, and a different set of environmental expectations, within which to assess the results of independent coastal research.
... the USA, a mastodon tusk and a bifacially flaked leaf point were recovered from 70 m on the outer shelf in 1970 and languished in a local museum for over 30 years before their significance was recognized. Recent radiocarbon dating of the tusk at 23,000 years BP appears to extend human presence in the Americas by 10,000 years compared to the generally accepted date of earliest colonization (Stanford et al., 2014). The Atlit Yam site in Israel was discovered only by the coincidence of a storm that had temporarily removed the protective cover of sand and a local archaeologist who happened to be diving at that locality. ...
Synonyms Continental shelf archaeology; maritime archaeology; nautical archaeology; shipwreck archaeology; submerged landscape archaeology Definition Underwater archaeology is the systematic recovery, study, and interpretation of the material remains of human activity that are now located below present sea-level on or under the seabed or below water in inland water bodies such as lakes and rivers. Introduction Underwater archaeology covers a wide range of objectives and interests, which fall into two main categories. The first, and the one most commonly recognized, is the study of shipwrecks and other remains of maritime activity, such as harbor walls and port facilities partially or wholly submerged by minor changes of relative sea-level. Here the focus is on recent millennia, from the expansion of seafar-ing activity in the Bronze Age as much as 5,000 years ago up to the modern era, and on maritime history, particularly the development of seafaring technology and its social and political consequences in terms of trade, mobility, and warfare. "Nautical archaeology" emphasizes the technological aspect of seafaring, and "maritime archaeology" encompasses the social and political dimension (Muckelroy, 1978; Gould, 2000).
... On both faces and mainly located near the center, a heavy abrasion displaying parallel striae visible with the naked eye is present on some flake-scar ridges (Fig. 10c). Abrasion on bifaces may be due to different causes, such as a probable part of the final shaping (Disselhoff, 1972: (Stanford et al., 2014), bag transport (Frison and Bradley, 1999), abrasion in sand resulting from soil movements (Stapert, 1976), among others. Because it is only present on a few central ridges, it was likely made to eliminate the protrusions resulting from the thinning flakes, and/or to match the thickness. ...
In the wide field of archaeology, stone tools are one of the major pieces of evidence to assess the knowledge and understanding of the peopling of the Americas. To answer anthropological questions concerning migration routes, colonization events, and further socio-cultural developments in the Americas, long term research has been directed to deepening the knowledge and understanding diverse technological topics of terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene lithic remains, with particular focus on “fishtail”, “Fell’s cave”, or just “Fell” projectile points. Resulting from the research advances, this paper provides further detailed information to enlarge the database and morpho-technological knowledge of Fell points from north of the La Plata River, in the southern cone of South America. The analyzed sample has shown that there is broad technical and dimensional variability. Based on specific technological features and well-dated coeval finds, with some caution I consider the hypothesis that in certain places, the Fell points makers might have developed a regional variant with barbs or highly acute shoulders. The new observations have significant implications for understanding one of the earliest bifacial technologies in the archaeology of the Americas.
... Bipoints and lanceolate-triangular points were found on a limited range of sites of the aforementioned period. These include Cinmar, Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Parsons Island and Miles Point amongst others (Agogino and Pedler 2019;15 Collins et al. 2013;Eren et al. 2015;Haynes 2015;Lothrop et al. 2016;Stanford et al. 2014). However, at the time of the Far Northeast pre-Clovis occupation, the Eastern Townships were still inaccessible as the Laurentide Ice Sheet was covering the province of Quebec. ...
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Bifacial Stone Tool Variability during the Late Paleoindian Period at Kruger 2 (BiEx-23), Eastern Townships, Québec Jolyane Saule This thesis established the variability of Late Paleoindian bifacial stone tool assemblage from the Kruger 2 site. Kruger 2 is a basecamp occupied during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in the Eastern Townships, Southern Quebec. The goal of this project is to quantify the variability observed in bifacial tools and to explain it. Geometrics Morphometrics and traditional attributed-base lithic analysis are used conjointly for this purpose. Geometrics Morphometrics are a set of methods that are used to distinguish groups based on their shape and to understand the differences between those groups. It is used to test the validity of the morpho-types used to classify bifacial tools found on Kruger 2 (bifaces, drills, Ste-Anne-Varney points, Agate Basin points, and other projectile points). In terms of explanation, the organization of technology postulates (sensu Nelson 1991) lies at the core of the research. The analysis involved defining the factors of biface shape variation and evaluating whether shape variation is caused primarily by raw material, function, tool life histories, or other design constraints. It was determined that all three of these factors contribute to shape differences. The data suggest that the primary factors are raw material availability and tool life histories-two factors iii intimately intertwined. In other words, it is the organization of technology that seems to be the driving explanatory force that accounts for shape variability.
At some time around the end of the last ice age, around 11,500 P14PC yr BP / 13,300 Cal yrs BP, the first human hunter-gatherer groups entered North America where they encountered diverse environments and climates. These groups once separate and exploring these landscapes in a vast continent were hunting and killing the same megafauna; perhaps for the first time, they would have encountered mammoth, mastodon, gomphothere, giant sloth and camel etc. Other smaller, more recognisable species were also present and hunted; elk, deer and caribou and bison for example. Clovis fluted points were long regarded as the hallmark of the first humans to occupy the Americas. The different environments and landscapes encountered by these separate groups may account for the extent of the variability of these points that are so characteristic of this period. In this thesis research I suggest that Clovis was not the first stone tool technology in North America and that fluted points evolved from an earlier technology, and that Clovis was a localised fluted form that evolved regionally as these first groups spread out across the continent. In a previous study I asked the question "what is Clovis", perhaps after the present study "what is not Clovis" may be more appropriate.
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Since the emergence of the niche in Folsom, New Mexico, in the late 1920s, peopling archaeology has sought to understand the earliest human occupants of the Western Hemisphere. Three generations of practitioners have made great strides in the techno-environmental arena. However, we have largely failed to tap into PaleoIndigenous intellectual, emotional, and social lives—the very domains that made Ice Age people as fully human as we are. As a result, our interpretations of those pioneering populations could often apply as readily to a colony of ants or a herd of wildebeest as they do to living, breathing, thinking, dreaming, loving, striving human ancestors. This article first explores the reasons for our failure to fully actualize First Peoples, identifying and implicating a feedback loop that includes practitioner homogeneity (we have always been and continue to be disproportionately white men of European descent); our predominantly positivist worldview; our language, training, and practice; and even the limited nature of the material record we study. This article also, however, highlights the ways that an important minority of peopling scholars have sought to access the humanity of PaleoIndigenous people. By more consistently mobilizing our own human capacity to creatively interrogate the deep past, we will produce scholarship that more consistently recognizes the capacity of the people who lived it and, just as importantly, respects those living today.
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Americas Redefining the Age of Clovis: Implications for the Peopling of the This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. clicking here. colleagues, clients, or customers by , you can order high-quality copies for your If you wish to distribute this article to others here. following the guidelines can be obtained by Permission to republish or repurpose articles or portions of articles): July 7, 2014 (this information is current as of The following resources related to this article are available online at
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Very few such sites have been located except in the immediate periphery of the present nearshore zone. The problem of identifying early man's sites on the submerged continental shelves of the world becomes, under present technologic conditions, a matter of luck or random search. Nevertheless, we can optimize those areas in which the search should be concentrated. -from Authors
Who were the first humans to inhabit North America? According to the now familiar story, mammal hunters entered the continent some 12,000 years ago via a land bridge that spanned the Bering Sea. Distinctive stone tools belonging to the Clovis culture established the presence of these early New World people. But are the Clovis tools Asian in origin? Drawing from original archaeological analysis, paleoclimatic research, and genetic studies, noted archaeologists Dennis J. Stanford and Bruce A. Bradley challenge the old narrative and, in the process, counter traditional-and often subjective-approaches to archaeological testing for historical relatedness. The authors apply rigorous scholarship to a hypothesis that places the technological antecedents of Clovis in Europe and posits that the first Americans crossed the Atlantic by boat and arrived earlier than previously thought. Supplying archaeological and oceanographic evidence to support this assertion, the book dismantles the old paradigm while persuasively linking Clovis technology with the culture of the Solutrean people who occupied France and Spain more than 20,000 years ago. Who were the first humans to inhabit North America? According to the now familiar story, mammal hunters entered the continent some 12,000 years ago via a land bridge that spanned the Bering Sea. Distinctive stone tools belonging to the Clovis culture established the presence of these early New World people. But are the Clovis tools Asian in origin? Drawing from original archaeological analysis, paleoclimatic research, and genetic studies, noted archaeologists Dennis J. Stanford and Bruce A. Bradley challenge the old narrative and, in the process, counter traditional-and often subjective-approaches to archaeological testing for historical relatedness. The authors apply rigorous scholarship to a hypothesis that places the technological antecedents of Clovis in Europe and posits that the first Americans crossed the Atlantic by boat and arrived earlier than previously thought. Supplying archaeological and oceanographic evidence to support this assertion, the book dismantles the old paradigm while persuasively linking Clovis technology with the culture of the Solutrean people who occupied France and Spain more than 20,000 years ago.
Stone, bone or ivory implements used to kill and butcher a menagerie of now largely extinct animals are found at late Pleistocene terrestrial big game kills. Tool function of big game kill artifacts is often assumed but not confirmed by reference to artifact form and archaeological context. Experimentally produced microwear traces, however, do provide an empirical basis to judge the likely use of the archaeologically derived artifacts. Microwear on experimental tools and Clovis points from Colby unequivocally show consistent patterns of tool use as projectile points and butchering tools; evidence of site-specific haft binding technique, of tool maintenance, and use-life histories. A further evaluation of the “Keeley method” of identifying micropolishes, how they form and rates of formation, indicates that conventional incident light microscopy is severely limited in its application for microwear studies.
Who were the first humans to inhabit North America? According to the now familiar story, mammal hunters entered the continent some 12,000 years ago via a land bridge that spanned the Bering Sea. Distinctive stone tools belonging to the Clovis culture established the presence of these early New World people. But are the Clovis tools Asian in origin? Drawing from original archaeological analysis, paleoclimatic research, and genetic studies, noted archaeologists Dennis J. Stanford and Bruce A. Bradley challenge the old narrative and, in the process, counter traditional-and often subjective-approaches to archaeological testing for historical relatedness. The authors apply rigorous scholarship to a hypothesis that places the technological antecedents of Clovis in Europe and posits that the first Americans crossed the Atlantic by boat and arrived earlier than previously thought. Supplying archaeological and oceanographic evidence to support this assertion, the book dismantles the old paradigm while persuasively linking Clovis technology with the culture of the Solutrean people who occupied France and Spain more than 20,000 years ago.
Use of inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) coupled to a laser-ablation sample introduction system (LA-ICP-MS) as a minimally destructive method for chemical characterization of archaeological materials has gained favor during the past few years. Although still a relatively new analytical technique in archaeology, LA-ICP-MS has been demonstrated to be a productive avenue of research for chemical characterization of obsidian, chert, pottery, painted and glazed surfaces, and human bone and teeth. Archaeological applications of LA-ICP-MS and comparisons with other analytical methods are described.
Early man lived in eastern United States 11,000 years ago when most of the now-submerged continental shelf was exposed. The shelf almost certainly was ranged by nomadic hunters and possibly by marine fish- and mollusk-eaters. As the sea level rose at the end of the latest glacial epoch, the advancing water disrupted and submerged any habitation sites. The oldest radiocarbon dates for kitchen middens of marine refuse along the present shore appear to be younger than the oldest dates for kitchen middens of non-marine content. Older marine middens may be deeply submerged far out on the continental shelf. Greatest success in future exploration for these sites is likely in areas of the shelf which have received little or no cover of postglacial sediment and where rivers formerly crossed the shelf.