One Day Left!

Bid now! Bid high! The Rutz “Clovis” point is up for auction tomorrow!  Starting bid is $50,000 for an enormous surface-collected Clovis arrowhead.

AuctionWe are assured this is “genuine” and it has been confirmed by John Mark Clark, a renowned arrowhead collector and former furniture salesman, now an authenticator of prehistoric goods.  Here’s a statement from Mr. Clark:

“The market has been flooded with repros and fraudulent material. It’s something I’ve had to deal with on a daily basis, so I know other collectors are having to deal with it, too,” Clark said. “Only a few auction houses guarantee the authenticity of what they sell, and Morphy’s is one of them. The prehistoric market has been begging for a reputable auction house to step in and warranty what they’re selling, and now that’s going to happen.”

27695016“Several Scientific labs will be incorporated into the authentication process for further buyer assurance.” Gosh, I can’t wait to read the reports.  What’s the source?  Have we looked for microwear?  What tool was used to make this?  Is there stuff adhering to it?  Can we date it?  What’s up with all the abrasion in on the surface?  You know, the normal questions the scientific community asks.  If it is for real, I hope we get to see more.

Morphy’s assures us that this point has “been vetted by the most knowledgeable and experienced minds in the field“.  The auction field?  The archaeology field?  The wheat field where it was collected?  Um, did we inadvertently “vet” it by having it at the Paleoamerican Odyssey?

And finally, anyone want to bet on who will buy it?  There are some shrewd guesses flying around the collector communities.  I suspect it will be a familiar name to most of us.  I personally can’t imagine coveting any “collectible” that badly.  Maybe it’s just a control thing.

In the mean time, I’ll continue to whack out “clovis” points and scatter them to the four winds.  Maybe somebody will pay $400,000 for one someday.


and with Impeccable Timing…

All day, every day at the Paleoamerican Odyssey we were bombarded with a few images on the information televisions.  One of these images was the Rutz Clovis point.  It, or at least a good cast, was viewable in the artifact display room along with the Fenn Cache and some other truly remarkable finds.  Of course, the initial advertisement for the conference meeting mentioned that there would be artifacts from the actual Blackwater Draw Clovis site but if they were there, I missed them.  Maybe they were not in plain sight.


Image by: Pete Bostrum,

For those of you NOT familiar with this remarkable biface, it is alleged to be a Clovis-age point discovered in Douglas County, Washington and, if authentic, is the largest Clovis point known in North America.  Pretty cool surface find, eh?  This is not to say that every knapper or archaeologist is convinced, but I don’t know many people who could even get a hands-on look.  If by some chance, it is authentic, it is a little outside the norm for a Clovis point.  Who knows?  My initial impression, as a person who has handled many authentic Paleoindian points, and made a fair few, is that the margins are remarkably poorly-formed for the finished state of the base and extremely long and very rippled flute.

From what I know of the history, and it is very little, is that this point was announced and immediately put up for sale on a “Treasure Hunter” website in February of 2013 by a “family member” of the finder.  Apparently then, sometime recently, a website was created called the with vital statistics and images of the point.

Where is this all going?  Well, the Rutz “Clovis” point is now up for auction!  What lucky timing.  Didn’t something like this happen in conjunction with the Clovis and Beyond?

Okay then, your cultural heritage is bought and sold piece-by-piece every day.  But who cares?

A fine question (as I am a pessimist when it comes to the natural goodness of people).

So the rub with this sale, and the others rumored this week, is that this was facilitated by the very conference that we, as professional archaeologists, just attended.  Or is it just a lucky coincidence?  I personally feel like a sucker.  It was difficult to even go to this meeting after the blow-back of the preceding weeks.  Now this?  Did Texas A&M and the Center for the Study for the First Americans really want this association?  I sincerely hope not but the list of Board Members at the CSFA concerns me greatly.  I am ready to throw my hands up in despair at our readiness to turn to the dark side.  To further your career, what is your price?

This is a real and legitimate question.  What is the proper relationship between those who trade in bits and pieces of the past and those who are meant to study it?  I have looked through many private collections in my career and most collectors are good people.  But there is something special bout the Paleoindian hoarder collector just as there is a gritty edge to some Paleoindian archaeologists.  Much like the need to possess an artifact from the Clovis type-site, regardless of the morality or even legality of the claim.

Please, feel free to comment.  I’ll continue this discussion…mañana.

Looted Site in Texas

This year’s drought in Texas has caused water levels to drop significantly at many lakes, including Lake Whitney near Hillsboro in East Texas.  This drop in water level has exposed prehistoric sites along the lake, some of which are as old as 6,000 B.C.  Unfortunately, these sites have become the target of looters who are causing significant damage and destroying archaeological provenience while stealing cultural remains- some from burials.

Fortunately, some of the looters have been arrested and are now facing fines and probation.  Whatever fines and sentencing they face, it will be nowhere near enough.  These people are purposefully destroying the cultural and archaeological history of the Americas, and they should be judged and prosecuted harshly.

To view the video from or to read the accompanying news article click on the image above.

So Much Happening

So much happening, no time to post.  Lithic analysis, photo scanning, database building, site maintenance, artifact donations, collections photography, tracking down un-returned loans, writing papers…

Our apologies for not posting regularly but our intentions are to put out more and better information.  Probably our most useful and used information on this site is the bibliography page.  Maybe we’re doing people’s homework for them but with so many articles about this site, it seemed best to list all we can free for all to use.

It seems that much of the information in the Paleoindian field is held as proprietary and not widely shared.  I intend to make all of our work open and useful to the general community; academic and otherwise.  I hope that others will reciprocate by sharing information about our site that has been collected over the eighty year history of excavations.  So far, all requests made in the previous few years to our fellow institutions for the return of artifacts, inventories of collections taken from the site, and even requests for basic data gathered from Landmark have been refused outright.  It is clear that possession is taken as ownership even when it involves artifacts removed from a National Landmark.  The most common response is no response at all.

Any thoughts or advice from others in this position are appreciated.