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The Peopling Of The Americas: Death Of The Clovis First Model

1392 words - 6 pages

John T. Rine
Engl 1010-049x
2nd Position Assignment
Due 11/04/04

The Peopling of the Americas: Death of the Clovis First Model

The Clovis Cultural Complex was, until very recently, acknowledged as being the earliest prehistoric culture identified in the Americas. With the discoveries, however, of North American sites such as: Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, the Cactus Hill Site, and the Topper Site, evidence against the Clovis first model of the peopling of the Americas is accumulating at a substantial rate. In fact so much evidence has accumulated that a case can be made for the abandonment of the Clovis first model. It is the aim of the author of this work to make such a case.
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3). McConaughy then describes how carbon contamination was avoided at Meadowcroft. “Particulate coal contamination would have been readily noticeable to the Smithsonian Radiocarbon lab that dated this sample. First, the samples (as were other samples from Meadowcroft) were microscopically examined for coal contamination (note: local coal does not display any cellular structure and would be easily recognizable under a microscope when compared to wood or bark). Thus, particulate coal can be eliminated as a contaminate in this and all the samples from the site. Conversely, if water-soluble humates had been the contaminant, they would have been removed by pretreatment, and a corresponding reduction in the size of the sample should have been noted. It was not.” (“Meadowcroft Rockshelter” par. 7).
Also, the site stratigraphy “has been called into question due to incongruities concerning floral and faunal associations” ("Meadowcroft Rockshelter" par. 3). Apparently the floral remains located in the site’s lowest horizon “are black gum, oak, and hickory [and the faunal remains taken from the same level] include white-tailed deer, southern flying squirrel, and the passenger pigeon” ("Meadowcroft Rock Shelter" par. 4). The remains of these species are not normally recovered from a Pleistocene age site ("Meadowcroft Rock Shelter" par. 4). The University of Minnesota’s E-museum web site states that “[James] Adovasio, [researcher of Meadowcroft] counters this by saying that the low-lying, south facing Meadowcroft Rockshelter was in a microclimate, a sheltered region that could have had a more temperate climate” ("Meadowcroft Rock Shelter" par. 4).
Within the pre-Clovis horizon, a new projectile point type later named for the owner of the site was discovered: the Miller Lanceolate. Unlike Clovis points, this point type isn’t fluted.
The Cactus Hill Site, actually a set of sites, is located in Southern Virginia. At one of the sites, blade type stone tools and a broken projectile point were found well below (9") a Clovis horizon. Critics of the site attribute the location of this discovery to floral or faunal disturbance rather then original deposition. At a site near by, however, stone tools similar in nature to the ones recovered from the other site, have been radiocarbon dated to 15,000 BP and 16,000 BP using remains found in direct association with the recovered tools ("PaleoIndians of Cactus Hill" par. 1). That is why one of the premier American Paleoindian researchers, Vance Haynes of the University of Arizona, said that Cactus Hill is "one of the best candidate pre-Clovis sites to come down in a long time" (qtd. in "PaleoIndians of Cactus Hill" par. 1). Regarding the projectile point recovery from the Cactus Hill site complex, “two…lanceolate/triangular bifaces were also found that” researchers of the site “have called Early Triangular” (“Resource Distribution” par. 9). This point type, like the Miller...

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