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Controlled overshot flaking: A response to Eren, Patten, O'Brien, and Meltzer

Coastal Environments, Inc. and Gault School for Archaeological Research, USA
Gault School for Archaeological Research and Texas State University-San Marcos, USA
University of Exeter, UK
A recent article by Eren et al. () is the latest
criticism of the hypothesis that some Late Pleisto-
cene Solutrean groups from western Iberia came to
the New World and that lasting vestiges of this
contact can be seen in close similarities between
Solutrean and Clovis biface and blade technol-
ogies. Eren et al.s primary argument is that over-
shot aking, one of many technological
characteristics shared in common by Clovis and
some Solutrean cultures, was an accident that
both cultural systems happened to have made
and should be interpreted as cultural convergence
rather than evidence for cultural connections or
inuences. We nd their article and the experiment
used to support it deeply problematic for several
reasons. Indeed, the awed logic employed in
their study and the distortions of earlier versions
of the Ice Edge Hypothesis are so egregious that
we question how the manuscript passed through
the peer-review process into publication in a
venue as highly regarded as the Journal of Archae-
ological Science. Here, we address some of Eren
et al.s most obvious errors, misrepresentations,
and over statements. In addition to correcting the
record, we are motivated by a desire to see scien-
tic discourse, particularly on an issue as impor-
tant as understanding the New Worlds earliest
occupants, conducted in a scholarly, professional
manner that involves fair and honest evaluation
of appropriate data.
The Ice-Edge Hypothesis (IEH) states that some
unknown number of Solutrean peoples came in
watercraft across the Northern Atlantic from
western Iberia to the New World during the Last
Glacial Maximum. Furthermore, the contri-
butions of these peoples to early stone tool tech-
nologies can be seen in Clovis and possibly
pre-Clovis biface and blade manufacture, along
with other traits. While the idea that people from
Upper Paleolithic Europe came to the New
World is not new (see Straus ), details of the
IEH have recently been elaborated by Bruce
Bradley and Dennis Stanford (Bradley and Stan-
ford ,; Stanford and Bradley ),
who note signicant similarities between Clovis
and Solutrean aked stone and other technologies.
The argument has been critiqued (Balter ;
Straus ; Straus et al. ), sometimes using
a derisive style of commentary (Meltzer :
). The recent article by Eren, Patten,
OBrien, and Meltzer, Refuting the technological
cornerstone of the Ice-Age Atlantic crossing
hypothesis,(Eren et al. ) is the latest effort
to debunk this idea while again employing an
unprofessional tone. The IEH has been proposed
as, and is best considered to be, a working hypoth-
esis (see Stanford and Bradley :) explain-
ing some of the New Worlds cultural origins. We
see the settlement of the Americas as a complex
issue requiring advances in many lines of study,
throughout the Americas, for years if not gener-
ations to come. When it comes to conducting aca-
demic discourse on topics of high importance we
agree with Straus (:) with respect to the
importance of standards of argument proof.
We feel strongly that the recent article by Eren
et al. is so deeply awed that it contributes very
little to the topic it purports to address, or even
to studies of Clovis, Early Paleoamericans, Pleisto-
cene North America, or nearly any other issue. In
this rebuttal, we address what we feel are some of
the more outstanding problems.
According to Eren et al.s summary of the IEH,
controlled overshot (also known as outré passé)
aking, the removal of akes spanning the width
of a biface and removing a small amount of mass
from each margin, is presented as the single most
important trait shared by Clovis and Solutrean
(Eren et al. :). They claim that the key
testable component of the IEH is whether
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controlled overshot aking was intentional or
accidental and that this can be evaluated by
testing its effectiveness for thinning bifaces. The
degree to which overshot aking efciently thins
bifaces, a point we view as a straw man argument
and discuss in detail below, is the focus of their
study. In a peculiar turn of logic, thinning
efciency is linked with intentionality with
respect to removing overshot akes, and evaluat-
ing these paired concepts becomes the basis for
refuting the IEH. They dismiss the IEH as speculat-
ive and argue that Stanford and Bradleys claims
of intentionality rest on the premise that overshot
aking is an efcient means of thinning a biface
(Eren et al. :), but then transmute
efcientinto optimal(Eren et al. :
). An experiment was undertaken that
involved attempting to remove overshot akes,
and then determining the degree to which overshot
aking thinned bifaces in relation to other kinds of
akes. We question the validity of the experiment:
If the experiment was intended to determine the
rates of accidental overshots why did they set out
to intentionally make them? This experiment
also ignores the fact that this comparison was
not used by Stanford and Bradley ().
Because their results showed that overshot akes
did not thin bifaces as efciently as full-face
akes, Eren et al. conclude that overshots were
most likely accidental rather than intentional and
therefore that this practice was not passed from
Solutrean to Clovis knappers.
We have four main concerns with this article.
First, they inappropriately reduce the complexity
of technological correlations between Clovis and
Solutrean to one shared trait: controlled overshot
aking. Second, they misrepresent through sim-
plication the motivations associated with over-
shot aking in Clovis (and Solutrean) biface
technologies. Third, they mischaracterize the ulti-
mate objective of Clovis and some Solutrean
biface production as achieving maximally
thinned bifaces rather than rst proportionally
thinning bifaces (maintaining approximately the
same width and thickness proportions) through a
step-wise process that was followed in some
cases by strategies to reduce thickness at a
greater rate than width, disproportionate thinning.
Fourth, the replication experiment they conduct in
order to test this false proposition is used to
support an unrelated conclusion, that because
overshot aking is not the most efcient method
of thinning bifaces, it is most parsimoniously
explained as an error and it therefore cannot
have been shared in common by Clovis and Solu-
trean knappers.
In addition to these issues, other concerns have
to do with how pre-existing ideas and concepts,
specically full-face aking, are described using
new terminology in an apparent attempt to
self-ascribe credit for recognizing them. Finally,
but perhaps most importantly from our perspec-
tive, the issue of intentionality seemingly runs
counter to a generation of focused analyses on
Clovis and Solutrean lithic technology. This
includes recent publications by the authors them-
selves, some of which not only use overshot
aking, deliberate in some cases, to dene Clovis
bifaces (Eren ; Meltzer ) but that also
rely on the presence of overshot ake scars to
make cultural connections between Clovis and
other Paleoamerican complexes, specically
Gainey (Eren et al. ). This point in particular
is both puzzling and problematic. For example, it
is entirely unclear whether Eren et al. intend to
say that, if overshot aking is accidental, then it
also is not a distinguishing technological feature.
The claim is not stated in this way, per se, but
their focus on intentionality makes it an important
issue to be clearly addressed. We do this in our dis-
cussion of other risky biface thinning strategies
that, according to the logic employed by Eren
et al., ought to have been avoided because of
their high failure rates but were nonetheless under-
taken as part of clearly patterned behavior, e.g.,
uting. Putting all other issues aside, if overshot
aking does not characterize Clovis and Solutrean
biface production, Eren et al. would indeed have
made a signicant contribution to archaeological
research, albeit one that would invalidate many
of their own prior statements. Based on their
study, however, archaeologists are no closer to
understanding the question of Upper Paleolithic
and Early Paleoindian technology or intentionality
than they were before this article was published.
Regarding the rst of our main objections, techno-
logical similarities between Clovis and Solutrean
have been compared in detail by Stanford and
Bradley using Dynamic Systems Analysis (Stan-
ford and Bradley : Figure .), borrowed
from textile analyses, as well as cluster analysis
(Stanford and Bradley : Figures .and
.). Dynamic Systems Analysis allows analysts
to compare two or more different production
systems, and illustrates commonalities between
Lithic Technology , Vol.  No. ,
and within steps in a stair-step graph. They
compare Beringian to Clovis, Beringian to Solu-
trean, and Clovis to Solutrean using  different
reduction steps and techniques. Clovis and Solu-
trean appear identical in all but a single biface
reduction step: toward the end of the reduction
sequence, Solutrean knappers laterally thinned
their bifaces while Clovis knappers performed
uting. In all other regards, including but not
limited to the use of controlled overshot in
primary aking, the two approaches appear iden-
tical. Cluster analyses are used to evaluate not just
reduction approaches, but technological simi-
larities between whole assemblages. It should be
noted that Stanford and Bradleys cluster analysis
did not involve weighting of certain variables or
attributes, such as overshot aking, in order that
their conclusions did not appear biased in favor
of their hypothesized connection between certain
Solutrean and Clovis technologies. An unweighted
analysis comparing technological traits reported
for different assemblages grouped pre-Clovis,
uted point, Late French Solutrean, Middle
French Solutrean, and north Spanish Solutrean at
the third level of grouping. Neither the cluster
nor the dynamic systems analysis focused solely
on overshot aking. Rather, both approaches con-
sidered multiple technological variables to con-
clude that some Solutrean and Clovis aked
stone technologies share very close approaches
and similarities, of which overshot aking on
bifaces is only one.
Regarding our second main concern, Eren et al.
inappropriately simplify the apparent rationale
behind deliberately employing overshot aking in
the course of biface reduction. Because they mista-
kenly view the goal of Clovis and Solutrean biface
manufacture to be maximally thinnedbifaces,
they contend that overshot aking can be tested
as a strategy for achieving this goal. However,
the different ways in which controlled overshot
aking contributed to biface production while
also serving other goals is clearly summarized in
Bradley et al. (:). Briey, controlled
overshot aking potentially provides many
benets: it produces akes that are usable for mul-
tiple purposes, when used with other aking strat-
egies it allows knappers to control biface width
and thickness proportions, and it provides a way
for knappers to resolve problems (stacks, square
edges, etc.) on both margins through a single
removal. It should be noted that Eren et al. fail
to understand what is mean by proportional
thinning. We follow Stanford and Bradley (:
) who describe proportional aking as accom-
plished by removing akes that end just past the
longitudinal midline of the biface, proportionally
removing as much from the face as from the
edge.In this manner, width-to-thickness pro-
portions (ratios) remain fairly constant as bifaces
are reduced. Knappers consider proportional
aking along with thickening (removing relatively
more mass from the margin than from the center)
and thinning (removing relatively more mass from
the center than from the margins; see below) as
they decide what kinds of approaches to employ
to make different kinds of bifaces in accordance
with their culturally informed behavior. In con-
trast, Eren et al. (:) argue that Bifacial
thinning is a proportional reduction process,
which means that the knapper reduces the thick-
ness of a biface at a faster rate than its width is
trimmed, in order to massively thin and atten
a specimen (Stanford and Bradley :).It
is curious here that Eren et al. attribute their
(incorrect) view of proportional aking to Stan-
ford and Bradley, considering the clear and
concise discussion of this issue in their 
volume Across Atlantic Ice. Bradley and Stanford
(:) also note that overshot aking,
when performed successfully, can result in
bifaces with at longitudinal cross-sections,
meaning that maintaining a certain overall shape
and cross-section morphology can also be
achieved. We see controlled overshot aking as
part of complex cultural systems that placed pri-
ority on proportional biface control, on exibility
with regard to isolating and simultaneously
solving multiple knapping problems, and on pro-
ducing usable bi-products that benetted other
task groups in their bands.
Our third main concern stems from the previous
one, but differs in some important ways. We
contest Eren et al.s factual misrepresentation of
the IEH that Clovis and Solutrean biface pro-
duction strategies were designed simply to
achieve maximum thinning efciency. Eren
et al.s experiment does in fact demonstrate that
overshot akes do not thin bifaces as well as
other strategies. Their resulting conclusions hinge
on this question, which we see as a red herring in
debates regarding the IEH. Stanford and Bradley
(:) discuss alternative approaches to
biface thinning that would achieve higher width:
thickness ratios than overshot aking alone,
specically the use of opposed diving aking
(also Bradley :). In this technique,
akes from opposing margins dive or hinge
Lithic Technology , Vol.  No. ,
slightly at the midline, thereby removing a small
amount of mass from the margin and proportion-
ally more mass from the center. This strategy for
achieving maximum thinness was identied long
ago by Bradley () who described it in his
analysis of Clovis biface reduction at the
Sheaman Site. There, he recognized that as
bifaces were gradually and proportionally
thinned through overshot and other aking
methods, a point was reached where emphasis
was no longer on maintaining proportions but
rather was placed on maximum thinning
without the danger of outré passé ake pro-
duction(Bradley :). Although con-
sidered thin, neither Clovis nor Solutrean are
known as biface technologies that are character-
ized by maximally thinnedbifaces; nished
pieces have width:thickness ratios that average
between only :and :. Among the best candi-
dates for maximal thinning are Folsom ultrathin
bifaces, which are characterized by the opposed
diving aking described above. Root et al. ()
report width:thickness ratios as high as :for
some ultrathins, which have complex cross-
sections, including bi-concave, rather than the at
lenticular cross-sections of most Clovis and
Solutrean bifaces. Considering that neither Clovis
nor Solutrean biface manufacturing techniques
targeted maximally thinned bifaces, Eren et al.s
entire argument seems inapplicable to the IEH.
This point leads to our nal main concern:
because overshot aking is less efcient than
other approaches to thinning bifaces, it must
have been a mistake and therefore could not
have been a cultural trait shared between Clovis
and some Solutrean knappers (Eren et al. :
). Leaving aside for the moment the misrepre-
sentations reviewed above, this particular reason-
ing is highly puzzling, since patterned mistakes
constitute important components of culturally
learned behavior just as successes do. We do not
understand or recognize Eren et al.s view of pre-
historic behavior, or anthropologistsrole in
researching and understanding the past if our
analytical focus is never to include or consider pat-
terned failures and mistakes. Given the importance
of proportionally thin biface production to both
Clovis and Solutrean, and granting for a moment
that Eren et al. are correct that overshot aking
was accidental, why would not a certain percen-
tage of inadvertent overshots be seen as accepta-
ble, normative behavior within a given social
group? Regardless, we do not believe Clovis and
Solutrean overshot aking was accidental.
Rather, we believe it reveals important features
involving decisions about risk and reward with
respect to stone tool production that characterized
Late Pleistocene technological approaches to tool
design and manufacture. Archaeological evidence
for decisions about skill-based risk-reward behav-
ior has been reported, for instance regarding
whether or not to ute Folsom points (Bamforth
; Ahler and Geib ; Lohse ).
Indeed, this was probably the riskiest of all
biface thinning strategies, yet some consider it
the hallmark of that technology (Meltzer :
). Although we contend that overshot aking
was performed intentionally by both Clovis and
Solutrean knappers, the possibility that it might
have been the accidental outcome of other aggres-
sive thinning strategies does not diminish its use-
fulness for hypothesizing about cultural
connections in cases where it can be shown to be
a shared trait. While Eren et al.s conclusion that
overshot aking was accidental can be debated,
which we and others do (see below), the fact that
it did occur as either intentional or accidental out-
comes in Solutrean and Clovis assemblages
negates Eren et al.s main conclusion, raising con-
siderable questions about the this manuscripts
main point.
One of our primary objectives for this response is
to encourage a more honest, responsible level of
academic discourse. Unfortunately, there are no
rules that govern this kind of behavior, and our
profession largely polices itself with respect to
inappropriate or unacceptable practices when it
comes to producing and disseminating knowledge.
An important principle, however, is what Kent
Flannery () refers to as the priority of
ideas.By this he means that we need to know
who proposed an idea, who supported or
opposed it, and when it was ultimately accepted
or rejected(Flannery :). Eren et al.
describe not only overshot aking, but also thin-
ning akes that do not reach the opposing
margin. They refer to these as overface akes,
those that terminate beyond the biface midline
but prior to reaching the far edge(Eren et al.
:) and cite Jennings (,) and
Smallwood (,) for this concept. These
thinning akes have long been recognized by
Clovis and Solutrean analysts. Phillip E. L. Smith
() coined the term éclat de biface for Solu-
trean thinning akes. They were described as
Lithic Technology , Vol.  No. ,
overlapping akes and akes that traveled across
the biface up to the other edge without removing
any of it. Bradley et al. (:) call these full-
face akes. Patten () also recognized these
kinds of akes, which he calls fractional akes,
as the deliberate by-product of Clovis biface thin-
ning. Huckell (:) describes early-stage
Clovis biface thinning akes that include both
overshot and those that do not fully reach the
opposing margin. Callahan () and Bradley
() presented the rst detailed evaluation of
systematic Clovis thinning strategies, recognizing
not only overshot and opposed diving aking as
thinning strategies but also akes that traveled
most of the way across the biface(Bradley
:). A review of the Jennings (,
) and Smallwood (,) publications
identies Smallwoods() article as the likely
origin for the term overface,although she also
includes in this category akes that extended
across the center axis of the biface toward the
opposite edge but either did not over-shoot or
were obscured by subsequent aking(Smallwood
:) (we contend that where the termin-
ations are obscured by subsequent aking, it
cannot be known whether the ake was an over-
shot or full-face ake). The denition is repeated
in Smallwood (:), again without attribu-
tion. While Smallwood and Bradley et al. share the
same publication date (), it is an oversight
that Smallwood () does not credit Bradley
() for recognizing full-face aking by what-
ever name in Clovis biface thinning, and Eren
et al. repeat and compound this oversight in their
own work. Although this issue may seem minor,
for the sake of appropriate credit for prior ideas,
one of the most important principles in scientic
discourse according to Flannery, it is important
to note where others have made important contri-
butions to understanding of Clovis biface thinning
strategies. These works should be cited in sub-
sequent studies that advance the topic.
The second of our other concerns extends from
our earlier comment regarding the intentionality
of overshot aking and whether, if accidental,
this trait can be considered a distinguishing
feature of Clovis and Solutrean technologies.
According to Eren et al., if this practice was not
intentional then it could not have been conveyed
from Solutrean to Clovis knappers and archaeolo-
gists should no longer consider it useful for inves-
tigating cultural connections between those two
cultures. They suggest that it was simply the inevi-
table product of optimal biface thinning of high
quality materials. This issue was discussed by
Stanford and Bradley (: note ). If
Eren et al.s contention is correct, overshot
aking should be present in many other biface
thinning assemblages such as Predynastic Egyp-
tian, Early Danish Neolithic and Caddoan to
name but a few. No data indicating its presence
in any other assemblages is presented or cited. In
contrast, Stanford and Bradley (: note
) present data from the Archaic levels at the
Gault site (also Bradley et al. :), including
deposits that are associated with extreme thinning
technologies like Andice and Castroville, and
show that overshot aking was not present at a
signicant level. Clearly the trait does not simply
occur wherever bifaces are aggressively thinned.
Another of Eren et al.s misunderstandings is
that Bradley and Stanford (, also Stanford
and Bradley ) suggested that overshot
aking of Clovis bifaces would be the dominant
method of thinning, in terms of relative numbers.
That overshot ake removals occurred in lesser
frequencies than either overfaceor ultrashot
(Eren et al. :) does not support
their contention that they were uncontrolled or
unintentional. End thinning and uting also
make up small proportions of Clovis biface thin-
ning akes, but to our knowledge nobody has
argued that they were unintentional or mistakes.
We contend that the practice of overshot aking
was intentional and therefore that its use in the
IEH is appropriate. Nevertheless, let us again con-
sider that it was accidental and that, as Eren et al.
imply, it therefore cannot be used to distinguish
what behaviors or concepts may have spread
from one group to another through acculturation.
We can only imagine that Eren et al. failed to con-
template the total ramications of this implication:
the great majority of recent studies of Clovis biface
technology and almost every serious scholar today
accepts overshot aking, accidental or deliberate,
as a dening trait for Clovis. The consensus
regarding Solutrean use of (controlled) overshot
aking is not quite as widespread, but this is prob-
ably due to the fact that far less detailed techno-
logical analysis has been carried out on these
assemblages (however see Aubry et al. ),
and that few American Clovis scholars are familiar
with the published French literature on the subject.
Nonetheless, we compiled a list (not exhaustive) of
Lithic Technology , Vol.  No. ,
archaeologists who have recognized overshot
aking as a dening trait for either or both techno-
logical complexes (Table ). Not included are any
of our own lead-authored citations.
In light of the near-consensus agreement that
Clovis and perhaps Solutrean biface thinning
were both characterized by intentional overshot
aking, we ask Do Eren and his co-authors truly
perceive it to be accidental? As seen in Table ,
the list of those who accept intentional overshot
aking by Clovis peoples includes Eren himself,
who dedicated an entire section of his recent dis-
sertation study to dening Clovis in the Great
Lakes region in part by recording evidence for
the use of controlled overshot aking. He notes
that The technique is now recognized as a diag-
nostic trait of Clovis biface production in
western and southern North America(Eren
:). In a separate study of early Paleoindian
remains in the upper northeast United States, Eren
et al. () specically use controlled overshot
aking to dene a cultural connection between
Clovis and Gainey-associated populations,
similar to how the IEH uses it to help postulate cul-
tural connections between some Solutrean and
Clovis technologies. A quick scan of OBriens
publications using Google Scholar revealed no
prior commentary at all about overshot aking.
Patten has a clear record of acknowledging the
importance of overshot aking in Clovis biface
production (e.g., Patten :). From Melt-
zers published statements, however, it is not
altogether clear whether he even accepts overshot
aking as diagnostic of Clovis, much less that it
was intentional. We reviewed many of his pub-
lished works, and nd only the caption of
Figure  in his  book as listing outré passé
aking as a diagnostic feature of Clovis points
(Meltzer :). However, much of the dis-
cussion by Straus et al. () concerning Clovis
overshot aking relies on data provided by Melt-
zers Texas Clovis Fluted Point Survey (Meltzer
and Bever ). This is a database of uted
points found across that state that were either
recorded by Meltzer or his students, or that were
reported to him via a voluntary survey carried
out through the state-wide amateur Texas Archeo-
logical Society. However, our review of Meltzer
and Bever (), the last published update of
the survey and the source used for Straus et al.
() found no mention whatsoever of overshot
aking. Nor is it mentioned at all on the recording
form for Clovis points used for the survey. We can
only surmise that the commentary in Strauss et al.
(:), which is limited to  specimens
from over and concludes that the trait is
uncommon on nished and reworked points,
come from Meltzers own unpublished
Citation Clovis? Solutrean?
Aubry et al. () yes*
Bement (in press) yes*
Eren (), Eren et al. () yes*
Ferring () yes*
Haynes () yes*
Huckell (, in press) yes*
Jennings (,) yes*
Kilby (), Kilby and Huckell () yes*
Meltzer () yes
Morrow () yes*
Patten () yes*
Smallwood (,) yes*
Tankersley () yes*
Waters et al. () yes*
Wilke et al. () yes*
Yahnig () yes
*Indicates that the author accepts that overshot aking was carried out on an intentional basis and was not accidental.
Lithic Technology , Vol.  No. ,
observations or those that were reported without
prompting by avocational archaeologists. It is
difcult to refute this evidenceany further than
this because none of these data are available in
print. We suggest that this methodology for
recording overshot aking might be useful for
noting its presence or absence within a collection,
but it hardly conveys any degree of precision about
the frequency of overshot aking in highly elabo-
rated technological systems. Indeed, because
nished points are most commonly found
retouched, resharpened, and reworked, which
leaves most overshot scars unidentiable, a volun-
teer survey of largely surface-collected points is
perhaps the least appropriate source of infor-
mation to use for recognizing systematic, con-
trolled overshot aking (Bradley and Stanford
:). To the degree that Meltzer seems
more consistent than Eren regarding his accep-
tance that overshot aking is diagnostic of
Clovis, we simply note a general dearth of any dis-
cussion at all by Meltzer about technological
details, other than uting and basal grinding,
involved in Clovis biface manufacture.
From this review of the authorsprior views
regarding overshot aking as an intentional
biface thinning strategy, we can only conclude
that the explicit statement that this technique
was a mistake as well as the implication that it
cannot be used to distinguish Clovis or Solutrean
technologies likely originates with Meltzer,
perhaps the most ardent critic of the IEH.
Neither of these opinions seems widely shared in
the academic community. However, since Eren is
lead author of this article, he also assumes
primary responsibility for the statements con-
tained therein. It would have been professionally
appropriate for him to acknowledge his prior
views at the outset of this article so that readers
can understand what appears to be his complete
reversal on the topic.
Admittedly, this review of prior ideas and the list
in Table adds relatively little to our understand-
ing of Clovis or Solutrean technological behavior.
But it points out the degree to which the academic
community accepts deliberate, controlled overshot
aking as a dening feature of Clovis, Solutrean,
or both. Do Eren et al. really mean that, since
this technique was merely accidental (in their
view), archaeologists cannot use it to build
hypotheses about connections between cultures
that share it in common? We accept that an
equal consensus may have existed opposing the
notion of Solutrean contact with the New World,
or the idea that at one time humans and Ice Age
animals co-existed in the western hemisphere,
and that no meaningful scientic topic should be
evaluated by popular opinion alone. Nonetheless,
if we have not misrepresented or misunderstood
Eren et al.s meaning, then they have a consider-
able amount of work to do before their prop-
osition will be taken seriously by the
archaeological community.
While there are numerous other technical issues
we could discuss, our nal comments involve the
process by which this manuscript was accepted
for publication. As we show, it is lled with
errors of distortion and misrepresentation,
logical fallacies, and makes conclusions (based
on intentionality) that are seemingly unrelated to
the topic it purports to address, technological con-
nections between Solutrean and Clovis. No less
problematic from the point of view of scientic
discourse, statements regarding the accidental
nature of overshot aking directly contradict state-
ments (by the lead author) made in the very recent
past. At a minimum, those prior conclusions ought
to have been addressed early in the manuscript;
otherwise, the impression is given that any argu-
ment may be advanced merely to suit an agenda
or purpose, refuting the IEH in this case, regardless
of that arguments relation to fact or supporting
evidence. We, like many others, see the Journal
of Archaeological Science as among the top
outlets available to archaeology and we hope
that this article is not a true reection of the stan-
dards of that periodical.
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Jon C. Lohse received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from The University of Texas at Austin, and is currently a Principal Investigator
with Coastal Environments, Inc.
Michael B. Collins received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona, and is currently a Research Associate
Professor of Anthropology and Principal Investigator of the Gault Archaeological Project.
Bruce A. Bradley received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona and is currently Professor of Prehistory and
Director of the Experimental Archaeology Masters Programme at the University of Exeter.
Correspondence to: Jon C. Lohse, Coastal Environments, Inc. and Gault School for Archaeological Research. Email: jonclohse@
Lithic Technology , Vol.  No. ,
... Clovis research trends over the past two decades remain focused on searching for evidence, and the cultural origins, of Clovis technology. The dissemination of proposed hypotheses, investigations, as well as replies and rebuttals provide intellectual forage that draw lively and bitter debate on the subject (Bradley and Stanford 2004;Curry 2012;Eren, et al. 2013;Haynes, et al. 2007Lohse, et al. 2014a;Morrow, et al. 2012;O'Brien, et al. 2014a;Oppenheimer, et al. 2014;Rasmussen, et al. 2014;Stanford and Bradley 2002;Straus 2000;Straus, et al. 2005;Waters, et al. 2011b;Waters and Stafford 2007). ...
... alternative theories of migration and colonization of the New World (see Stanford and Bradley 2012), have effectively stimulated new research directions and dynamic debate (Eren, et al. 2013;Eren, et al. 2015;Lohse, et al. 2014a;Morrow, et al. 2012;Waters, et al. 2011b;Straus, et al. 2005). ...
... Although overshot flakes are assumed as a diagnostic artifact of Clovis biface technology (Bradley et al. 2010:68-77;Collins and Hemmings 2005:15;Eren, et al. 2011;Huckell 2007:190-191;2014:139), their value in the biface reduction process is not well documented. This research will also address recent debate (Eren, et al. 2013;Eren and Desjardine 2014:109-120;Lohse, et al. 2014a;Sellet 2015), specifically regarding the intentionality of overshot flaking relevant to Clovis biface technology. As such, a study was conducted using a new sample and data set from hundreds of contextual Clovis overshot flakes. ...
Full-text available
This research examines the technology behind Clovis biface production from Clovis manufacturing areas at the Gault Site, Texas,(41BL323), with specific focus on flake striking platform preparation traits. Lithic analysts agree that platform bearing flakes retain clues into knapping technologies (Andrefsky 2005:86). Clovis experts agree that Clovis knappers invested effort before removing flakes by preparing platforms (Bradley, et al.2010:66; Morrow 1995) for exerting control during biface manufacture, including mastering control of overshot flaking (Bradley 2010:466). Evidence shows that Clovis knappers were highly skilled in their craft and preferred high quality raw materials to manufacture their tools and frequently produced overshot flakes. While basic manufacturing traits are present, Clovis represents a complex bifacial reduction technology (Bradley, et al. 2010:64). The data here elucidates differences in the application of reduction techniques used by Clovis. These data reveal no set pattern in the application of platform preparation traits used by Clovis knappers, but identified trends in the use of preparing platforms in flake types and phases that highlight Clovis biface reduction sequences, which may have followed a systematic ‘template.’ Therefore, a consistent approach may have been used to produce Clovis bifaces, but individual platform preparation traits were not. In addition to this study, a supplemental study was conducted concerning the intentionality of Clovis overshot flaking. This separate study revealed these flakes regularly exhibit the removal of stacks, hinges, deep flake scars and other error traits. As such, overshot flakes were a technique that served a dual purpose of removing errors while simultaneously thinning the biface. This research has contributed to a greater understanding of Clovis biface technology reduction processes and flake removal techniques used at the Gault Site.
... Extending to around its lower third portion, one or several flutes of varying lengths were detached on both faces, and at a similar height, while the lateral edges and the base were usually ground. Like most of the rest of PI technology, their high-quality manufacture was generally achieved by using bifacial thinning and percussion flaking, occasionally employing the distinctive edge-to-edge (EE) and overshot (O) strategies (Bradley, 1982(Bradley, , 2016Bradley et al., 2010;Stanford and Bradley, 2012;Lohse et al., 2014). Finally, they were finished by careful pressure flaking that generally left random or parallel covering retouches on both faces (Fig. 2). ...
... Its use in South American assemblages was rare, although it was intentionally used as a flaking method by itself, mainly in Central and northern South America. This sort of practice has been observed in pre-Clovis Page Ladson points (Rink et al., 2012), suggesting that it was used before CC points (Stanford and Bradley, 2012;Lohse et al., 2014). There were different ways of thinning NAFPs' bases, either by fluting on one or both faces, longitudinal thinning by simple flake removal, and/or short or long pressure (Thulman, 2007(Thulman, , 2019. ...
In order to find out about and discuss the peopling of the Americas, there is evidence that comes from a range of scientific disciplines. In archaeology, stone tool vestiges are one of the main pieces of evidence used for assessing the knowledge and understanding of this topic. One of the most iconic lithic remains from the South American Paleoindian record is the so-called Fishtail, or just “Fell” projectile point, a distinctive artifact that stands out due to its wide distribution from southern Mexico to southernmost South America. Different hypotheses have been proposed regarding its origin, mainly related to Paleoindian points from North America. In order to discuss this issue, special attention has been paid among the existing varieties to a group distributed throughout eastern North America, mainly in states with a shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico. This group stands out, because with their narrow or broader blades, their lower portions typically have deeply indented concave edges, forming flaring rounded or pointed ears with fluted and unfluted bases which are reminiscent of the Fishtail. By comparing them from a morphological and technological viewpoint, and because of the observed similarities between North and South American fishtailed points, the hypothesis in this paper proposes that South American Fell points are related to similar ones from eastern North America. A model of the possible route/s followed by the waves of colonizers who peopled northern South America and the lands beyond the equator in the southern hemisphere is also proposed.
... Estas teorías han suscitado, por otro lado, numerosos debates (B. Bradley & Stanford, 2006;Eren et al., 2013Eren et al., , 2018Eren et al., , 2021Kilby, 2019;Lohse et al., 2014;O'Brien et al., 2014;Straus et al., 2005), llegando a ser un tema extremadamente controvertido que, aún hoy en día no llega a estar resuelto, siendo un aspecto de continua tensión entre los investigadores y, especialmente, entre corrientes absolutamente contrapuestas y enfrentadas. ...
... For example, a connection has been made between Clovis and Solutrean assemblages in North America and Europe, respectively. The argument is based on the observation that their characteristic bifacial points were produced using similar reduction strategies (Stanford and Bradley, 2012;Lohse , et al., 2014). However, one of the components of this strategy, the removal of overshot thinning flakes, has been argued to be unintentional and occurring in different frequencies between the two assemblages, problematizing the proposed Clovis-Solutrean connection (Eren , et al., 2013(Eren , et al., , 2014. ...
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Learner-driven innovation in the stone tool technology of early Homo sapiens - Jayne Wilkins
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The state of Sonora, located in northwest Mexico, represents the southernmost nucleus of Clovis cultural development. Clovis is the oldest cultural tradition yet known in the Americas, extending over most of North America and is characterized by the unique lanceolate Clovis projectile point that has been widely dated to the Late Pleistocene. Archaeological investigations over the past 20 years have revealed that around 13,500 years ago the northern half of the state of Sonora was an important Clovis territory (Sanchez 2016:37). Currently, 140 Clovis projectile points have been documented within Sonora; 60 as isolated finds and 80 having been recovered from six sites. A variety of site contexts have been recorded to date, including encampments, lithic quarries, and a gomphothere kill location. In this paper, we describe and characterize the Sonoran Clovis site patterns, along with the organization of lithic technology and the cultural landscape. Based upon this characterization of Sonoran Pleistocene occupation, we can infer patterns potentially applicable to the existing archaeological data from Mesoamerica. Whereas in Sonora and the Southwest USA the Pleistocene inhabitants were affiliated as a group represented by the Clovis cultural tradition, the peopling of Mesoamerica was a complex process involving multiple waves of Pleistocene and Early Holocene period immigrants that adapted to a variety of environments; the small group size and regionalization of the first people of Mesoamerica obscure the identity of the groups for the archaeologist. The first people of Mesoamerica brought with them technologies developed in North America but that were modified to adapt to the neotropics.
The basin of the Uruguay middle river has contributed important advances related to knowledge of the early settlement of southeastern South America.. This paper presents recent progress of the research on the Paleoamerican period that is being carried out in the Tigre site (Uruguay), where a cultural component with Fishtail points, bifaces, preforms and other artifacts dated at ~ 12,800 and 12,200 cal BP was found. The presence of silicified limestone (silcrete) in the Tigre site indicates mobility ranges of 190 e350 km to obtain this lithic resource. The data presented here allow to have an accurate discussion of the chronological period occupied by Fishtail groups on the plains of Uruguay; and to recognize the late stages of the Fishtail point manufacturing process used by these human groups, one of the most successful adaptations during the end of the Pleistocene in South America.
Clovis technology is argued to possess distinctive attributes that make a stone tool assemblage recognizable as Clovis, even absent its hallmark fluted projectile points, or radiometric ages that place the assemblage in the late Pleistocene. Excavations at Goodson Shelter in Oklahoma yielded artifacts bearing unmistakable attributes of Clovis biface and blade technology, such as fluted bifaces, overface flaking, and prismatic blades, all from a clearly-delineated, unmixed stratigraphic layer securely dated to the mid-Holocene. This indicates that those technological attributes are not unique to Clovis, and cannot be used by themselves to identify Clovis age material. To illustrate the consequences of this result, we review biface and blade caches assigned to Clovis by their technology alone. Although many could be Clovis in age, they are not demonstrably so. Overall, our findings emphasize the importance of looking at suites of evidence, chronological, technological and otherwise, in assigning assemblages to the Clovis period.
This study utilizes data from the Gault site (41BL323) to address intentionality in Clovis overshot flaking. Most research in recent decades considers overshot flakes a purposeful part of Clovis biface reduction. However, recent research by Eren et al. has questioned this interpretation, experimentally demonstrating that overshot flakes may represent failed attempts at removing large overface flakes. The present study compares overshot flake counts from Clovis and other components in Area 15, as well as comparing edge removal measurements from Clovis and non-Clovis overshots from Areas 8 and 15. Results indicate that overshots are proportionally more common in the Clovis component than in any other stratum, and Clovis overshot flakes consistently remove less mass from the opposite edge than those from other components. Therefore, it appears that overshots are removed more consistently and with more precision in Clovis than in any other component, making them more likely to be intentional.
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In this paper we present a technological study of leaf-like arrow points recovered in an open-air site from the 3th millennium B.C., named El Tossal de La Munda (Vistabella del Maestrazgo, Castellón). It is located at the central east of Spain, in the southern part of Iberian range in a mountainous area about 100 km far from the coast. The site is on a small flat-topped hill of about 5000 m² and it is 820 m.a.s.l. The upper surface has been strongly eroded and the lithic material has been found directly on the bedrock or over the dissolution clays. We recovered close to 5000 lithic remains, offering an assemblage mainly produced in the 3rd millennia BC: retouched blades and flakes as main groups, leaf-like arrow points, in addition to some other retouched tools as segments (one triangle, one bifacial circle and a trapezoid), scrapers, end-scrapers, denticulate and notches, one raclette and one drill. We also found two small adzes. The cores were intensively exhausted. Just some of them show bladelet scars but most of them are small discoid and irregular shaped cores for the production of small flakes. Few of them show marks of bipolar flaking on anvil. Within the lithic assemblage there is a sample of 73 bifacial rough-outs and projectile points at different reduction stages, from initial blanks to finished and used ones. In addition, we found one refit and one conjoint. All of them are leaf-like arrow points except a fragment showing shoulders as an exception. We have identified some typical accidents in bifacial reduction: fractured rough-outs, overshot flakes, overshot negatives and another accident that we named “bending notches”, linked principally to the pressure technique (two positives and two negatives). We analysed both preforms and finished leaf-like arrow points from a technological point of view, first trying to identify the blank type and shape, and secondly trying to distinguish knapping methods and techniques. We have divided the methods in three main types: parallels (adjacent and contiguous), alternating, and independent method. We have identified the strategies according to edges and blank faces management. In our case, only simple combinations has been detected, mainly alternate (first one face, after the other side on the same edge). We have divided leaf-like production in five technical stages, and we described the identified knapping methods and strategies used at the site according to the reduction stage. In order to show this, we describe in the paper the most significant cases of the site. The identification of blanks has been possible in most of the rough-outs, verifying that the blanks used at the site were irregular and cortical flakes, chunks, fissure slabs and small cores. Despite this, leaf-like production at the site was really homogeneous, applying the same methods and also managing the blank faces similarly. Alternate strategy is completely dominant, firstly removing the ventral face, secondly the dorsal part. The main knapping method used at the site is the independent method, removing consecutively the most highlighted ridges. When the sketch is advanced and reaches a regular shape, the application of parallel method series is common. Technically we have observed two phases: first direct percussion (mainly with stone hammer); second, pressure technique. Heat modifications have been detected in 20 rough-outs and projectiles but most of them seem to be non-intentional, exhibiting cupules and cracks. Most of the finished ones do not show double shine (heat patina). According to this, we state that leaf-like production at the site was not a specialized process but it recovers to use as blanks previously discarded flakes, chunks and exhausted cores, part of them recycled before burning. The elaboration of leaf-like arrow points was embedded in the laminar production, and it played a marginal role within a lithic reduction system that is focused on blade and bladelet production. They used mainly cortical and non-cortical flakes, that seem to be by-products of blade core preparation, or exhausted cores that were reused for this purpose. Despite most of the arrow points result in crude and thick foliated shapes, we argue that in this technological context, the use of waste as blanks constrains the knapping reduction, and lead to rude shapes. Derived from this, we discuss on the leaf-like arrow point morphology and its profitability, the resistance of thick-elliptical tips and their role in the technological framework of the site and its landscape. We also discuss about the visibility of the skilled knapping in this context, when small, irregular and cortical flakes, burned chunks and exhausted cores were used as a blank to make leaf-like projectiles.
An evaluation of recent claims for early human settlement of South America is presented. Some of the problems with these cases are reviewed, particularly the ways in which ambiguity weakens otherwise compelling evidence of early human presence in the continent. The roles of generalized adaptations and cobble industries, the most common explanations of claims of early occupations, are examined, and some new sites that present incomplete evidence but are deserving of further research are mentioned. The incorporation of studies of formation processes in the future may prove helpful in evaluating most of these cases as well as others that emerge in the future.
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Scattered sporadically across much of the American interior are tight clusters of Clovis artifacts identified as material caches. Clovis caches consist of bifaces, projectile points, blades, flakes, cores, bone and ivory rods, and occasionally other items that appear to have been carefully set aside rather than discarded or lost. As the defining attributes of Clovis caches have become clearer, caches are recognized and reported with increasing frequency, in the form of new discoveries in the field and among existing collections. The first section of this paper provides an overview of currently known Clovis caches, ranging from assemblages discovered as much as 50 years ago to less familiar collections just coming to light, with the goal of presenting an up-to-date synopsis for every reported cache attributed to Clovis. A second section reviews our current understanding of the temporal and spatial distribution of Clovis caching and caching behavior, along with some proposed explanations for those patterns. A final section provides an overview of contemporary perspectives on Clovis caches, with special consideration given to their relationships to other assemblages and to Clovis migration and mobility, along with a summary of current and future directions for research involving Clovis caches. © 2014 by Kelly E. Graf, Caroline V. Ketron, and Michael R. Waters. All rights reserved.
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.
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.
In the late 1920s outside a sleepy remote New Mexico village, prehistory was made. Spear points, found embedded between the ribs of an extinct Ice Age bison at the site of Folsom, finally resolved decades of bitter scientific controversy over whether the first Americans had arrived in the New World in Ice Age times. Although Folsom is justly famous in the history of archaeology for resolving that dispute, for decades little was known of the site except that it was very old. This book for the first time tells the full story of Folsom. David J. Meltzer deftly combines the results of extensive new excavations and laboratory analyses from the late 1990s, with the results of a complete examination and analysis of all the original artifacts and bison remains recovered in the 1920s - now scattered in museums and small towns across the country. Using the latest in archaeological method and technique, and bringing in data from geology and paleoecology, this interdisciplinary study provides a comprehensive look at the adaptations and environments of the late Ice Age Paleoindian hunters who killed a large herd of bison at this spot, as well as a measure of Folsom's pivotal role in American archaeology.