Following Up on the South Bank

The South Bank of the Clovis site refers to an area at the southern end of the prehistoric pond around which lie a group of cultural sites spanning a time from the end of the last ice age until recent historic times.  This watering hole provided a marshy habitat for plants and animals and was the focus of human activity for the last 14,000 years.

SouthBank

The South Bank area of the Clovis site. View to the southwest.

Professional research on the South Bank of the Clovis site has been going on since the mid-1930s.  In fact, this is the area of the Clovis site where it was discovered for the first time, beyond any legitimate doubt, that humans were hunting mammoths in North America.  Other than the spear points we now know as Clovis, major discoveries in the South Bank area include bone spear points embedded in mammoth, spokeshaves, gravers, Levallois blades, turtle shells, bone flakers, bone foreshafts, and a variety of knives and other cutting tools.

Although more work has been done in the South Bank area than any other portion of the site, only a tiny fraction of all the work in this area has been published to date.  A few of us are working hard to remedy this and I have dedicated my career to unraveling the mess of 80+ years of excavation, sampling, and recording of this site.

Howard

Edgar Howard at the Clovis site, 1933.

What we’re up to now.  A building was placed over a small portion of the South Bank in the 1990s to preserve in situ some of the spectacular preserved specimens from this area.  As time permits, we are slowing removing the overburden in this area to reveal the palimpsest of bison kills, butchering, and other activities in this area.  A particularly good crew of excavators with faunal experience were willing to volunteer some of their time over the past couple weeks and huge progress is being made.

 

Here’s a gallery of random photographs from the excavations so far.

Thanks to those who are giving time to this project of mine.  Since, for me, archaeology isn’t worth doing without disseminating the information to the broader public I’ll update the blog as we continue to make progress.  Unfortunately, day-to-day operations of the Landmark and the university take precedent over the fun stuff like this so it will be back to the grindstone before too long.

400,000 Years Before Clovis

Palaeoloxodon antiquus, or “Straight Tusked Elephants” are distant European cousins of our Mammuthus columbi, and now it appears, with little doubt, that early humans were eating them in England during the Hoxnian interglacial 420,000 years ago.  For the sake of easy arithmetic, estimating Clovis as 14,000 years ago, that’s 30 times older than the best confirmed dates for the occupation of North America.  These would be pre-Acheulian (you know, the handaxe guys) hominins, i.e., near the end of the people called Homo erectus or possibly heidelbergensis?

Tusker

From the University of Southampton:

Excavation revealed a deep sequence of deposits containing the elephant remains, along with numerous flint tools and a range of other species such as; wild aurochs, extinct forms of rhinoceros and lion, Barbary macaque, beaver, rabbit, various forms of vole and shrew, and a diverse assemblage of snails. These remains confirm that the deposits date to a warm period of climate around 420,000 years ago, the so-called Hoxnian interglacial, when the climate was probably slightly warmer than the present day.

Dr Wenban-Smith comments: “Although there is no direct evidence of how this particular animal met its end, the discovery of flint tools close to the carcass confirm butchery for its meat, probably by a group of at least four individuals.”

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE.

 

Relative Size and Other Important Tidbits

TitanesWhen we think of Pleistocene fauna, we usually think big.  The above image was assembled by Roberto Díaz Sibaja on his wonderful blog Palaeos, la historia de la vida en la tierra.  I love the fact that he has created, for many of his animal-size related posts, a real scale that nearly all of us can relate to; a human and a Volkswagen Beetle.  Look closely at his human silhouette and you can see some attitude hidden there.

M trogontheriiNot an archaeology blog but a broader and probably smarter view of the biological world through paleontology and evolution.  He covers so many facets of the natural world including many fossil animals from dinosaurs to modern camelids.

B latifronsThis is just a small example of one of his posts, but one I find myself referring to when trying to illustrate scale.

A agustidensHe treats his blog entries in a manner I wish I had the time and energy to create, using links and (god forbid) actual references.  A truly unique way to write on the internet.

D shoshonensisClick the link below and prepare to learn about our interesting past.

Logo 1 corregidohttp://palaeos-blog.blogspot.com/

Breaking News About Paleoindians at Clovis!!!

1936:

Portales Daily News.  Note that there was no “Clovis” cultural group yet…\

News1936-1jpgNews1936-2jpgClick HERE for the pdf, with bonus Coronado article OR link below:

http://theclovissite.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/pdn1936.pdf

New Mexico Archaeological Council Newsletter

The most recent New Mexico Archaeological Council newsletter is out.  this issue focuses on Paleoindian archaeology and includes a short article of recent activities at the Clovis site.  Click here to download.  If you are a New Mexican, or have an interest in the archaeology of our fine state, consider joining NMAC.

2013-2
Paleoindian Archaeology in New Mexico
Contents:
In Memorium: Patrick Culbert
Introduction
Current Research and Investigations at Blackwater Draw, NM
Recent Research at the Mockingbird Gap Clovis Site
New Finds at the Water Canyon Paleoindian Site
Recent Paleoindian Studies at Spaceport America
Interpreting the Paleoindian Signature of Southeast New Mexico
Late Paleoindian Projectile Point Technology