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"A Clovis blade with medium to large lanceolate spear-knife points. Side is parallel to convex and exhibit careful pressure flaking along the blade edge. The broadest area is near the midsection or toward the base. The base is distinctly concave with a characteristic flute or channel flake removed from one or, more commonly, both surfaces of the blade. The lower edges of the blade and base is ground to dull edges for hafting. Clovis points also tend to be thicker than the typically thin later stage Folsom points. Length: 4–20 cm/1.5–8 in. Width: 2.5–5 cm/1–2
A Clovis projectile point created using bifacial percussion flaking (that is, each face is flaked on both edges alternately with a percussor)

The Clovis culture is a prehistoric Paleoamerican culture, named for distinct stone tools found in close association with Pleistocene fauna at Blackwater Locality No. 1 near Clovis, New Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s. It appears around 11,500–11,000 uncalibrated RCYBP[1] at the end of the last glacial period, and is characterized by the manufacture of "Clovis points" and distinctive bone and ivory tools. Archaeologists' most precise determinations at present suggest this radiocarbon age is equal to roughly 13,200 to 12,900 calendar years ago. Clovis people are considered to be the ancestors of most of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.[2][3][4]

The only human burial that has been directly associated with tools from the Clovis culture included the remains of an infant boy researchers named Anzick-1.[5][6] Paleogenetic analyses of Anzick-1's ancient nuclear, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosome DNA [7] reveal that Anzick-1 is closely related to modern Native American populations, which lends support to the Beringia hypothesis for the settlement of the Americas.[8]

The Clovis culture was replaced by several more localized regional societies from the Younger Dryas cold-climate period onward. Post-Clovis cultures include the Folsom tradition, Gainey, Suwannee-Simpson, Plainview-Goshen, Cumberland, and Redstone. Each of these is thought to derive directly from Clovis, in some cases apparently differing only in the length of the fluting on their projectile points. Although this is generally held to be the result of normal cultural change through time,[9] numerous other reasons have been suggested as driving forces to explain changes in the archaeological record, such as the Younger Dryas postglacial climate change which exhibited numerous faunal extinctions.

After the discovery of several Clovis sites in eastern North America in the 1930s, the Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants who created a widespread culture in the Americas. However, this theory has been challenged, in the opinion of many archaeologists, by several archaeological discoveries, including sites such as Cactus Hill in Virginia, Paisley Caves in the Summer Lake Basin of Oregon, the Topper site in Allendale County, South Carolina, prehistoric Paleoamerican culture, named for distinct stone tools found in close association with Pleistocene fauna at Blackwater Locality No. 1 near Clovis, New Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s. It appears around 11,500–11,000 uncalibrated RCYBP[1] at the end of the last glacial period, and is characterized by the manufacture of "Clovis points" and distinctive bone and ivory tools. Archaeologists' most precise determinations at present suggest this radiocarbon age is equal to roughly 13,200 to 12,900 calendar years ago. Clovis people are considered to be the ancestors of most of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.[2][3][4]

The only human burial that has been directly associated with tools from the Clovis culture included the remains of an infant boy researchers named Anzick-1.[5][6] Paleogenetic analyses of Anzick-1's ancient nuclear, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosome DNA [7] reveal that Anzick-1 is closely related to modern Native American populations, which lends support to the Beringia hypothesis for the settlement of the Americas.[8]

The Clovis culture was replaced by several more localized regional societies from the Younger Dryas cold-climate period onward. Post-Clovis cultures include the Folsom tradition, Gainey, Suwannee-Simpson, Plainview-Goshen, Cumberland, and Redstone. Each of these is thought to derive directly from Clovis, in some cases apparently differing only in the length of the fluting on their projectile points. Although this is generally held to be the result of normal cultural change through time,[9] numerous other reasons have been suggested as driving forces to explain changes in the archaeological record, such as the Younger Dryas postglacial climate change which exhibited numerous faunal extinctions.

After the discovery of several Clovis sites in eastern Anzick-1.[5][6] Paleogenetic analyses of Anzick-1's ancient nuclear, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosome DNA [7] reveal that Anzick-1 is closely related to modern Native American populations, which lends support to the Beringia hypothesis for the settlement of the Americas.[8]

The Clovis culture was replaced by several more localized regional societies from the Younger Dryas cold-climate period onward. Post-Clovis cultures include the Folsom tradition, Gainey, Suwannee-Simpson, Plainview-Goshen, Cumberland, and Redstone. Each of these is thought to derive directly from Clovis, in some cases apparently differing only in the length of the fluting on their projectile points. Although this is generally held to be the result of normal cultural change through time,[9] numerous other reasons have been suggested as driving forces to explain changes in the archaeological record, such as the Younger Dryas postglacial climate change which exhibited numerous faunal extinctions.

After the discovery of several Clovis sites in eastern North America in the 1930s, the Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants who created a widespread culture in the Americas. However, this theory has been challenged, in the opinion of many archaeologists, by several archaeological discoveries, including sites such as Cactus Hill in Virginia, Paisley Caves in the Summer Lake Basin of Oregon, the Topper site in Allendale County, South Carolina, Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Pennsylvania, the Friedkin[10] site in Texas, Cueva Fell in Chile, and especially, Monte Verde, also in Chile.[11] The oldest claimed human archaeological site in the Americas is the Pedra Furada hearths, a site in Brazil that precedes the Clovis culture and the other sites already mentioned by 19,000 to 30,000 years. This claim has become an issue of contention between North American archaeologists and their South American and European counterparts, who disagree on whether it is conclusively proven to be an older human site.[12][13][14]

A hallmark of the toolkit associated with the Clovis culture is the distinctively shaped, fluted-stone spear point, known as the Clovis point. The Clovis point is bifacial and typically fluted on both sides. Clovis tools were produced during a roughly 300 year period. [15]Archaeologists do not agree on whether the widespread presence of these artifacts indicates the proliferation of a single people, or the adoption of a superior technology by diverse population groups.[16]

The culture is named after artifacts found between 1932 and 1936 at Blackwater Locality No. 1, an archaeological site between the towns of Clovis and Portales, New Mexico. These finds were deemed especially important due to their direct association with mammoth species and the extinct Bison antiquus. The in situ finds of 1936 and 1937 included most of four stone Clovis points, two long bone points with impact damage, stone blades, a portion of a Clovis blade core, and several cutting tools made on stone flakes.[16] Clovis sites have since been identified throughout much of the contiguous United States, as well as Mexico and Central America, and even into northern South America.[17]

Clovis people are generally accepted to have hunted mammoths, as well as extinct bison, mastodon, gomphotheres, sloths, tapir, camelops, horse, and other smaller animals. More than 125 species of plants and animals are known to have been used by Clovis people in the portion of the Western Hemisphere they inhabited.[18][19]

The oldest Clovis site in North America is believed to be El Fin del Mundo in northwestern Sonora, Mexico, discovered during a 2007 survey. It features occupation dating around 13,390 calibrated years BP.[20] In 2011, remains of gomphotheres were found; the evidence suggests that humans did, in fact, kill two of them there. Also, the Aubrey site in Denton County, Texas, produced an almost identical radiocarbon date.[21]

Disappearance of Clovis

The most commonly held perspective on the end of the Clovis culture is that a decline in the availability of megafauna, combined with an overall increase in a less mobile population, led to local differentiation of lithic and cultural traditions across the Americas.[9][22] After this time, Clovis-style fluted points were repla

The culture is named after artifacts found between 1932 and 1936 at Blackwater Locality No. 1, an archaeological site between the towns of Clovis and Portales, New Mexico. These finds were deemed especially important due to their direct association with mammoth species and the extinct Bison antiquus. The in situ finds of 1936 and 1937 included most of four stone Clovis points, two long bone points with impact damage, stone blades, a portion of a Clovis blade core, and several cutting tools made on stone flakes.[16] Clovis sites have since been identified throughout much of the contiguous United States, as well as Mexico and Central America, and even into northern South America.[17]

Clovis people are generally accepted to have hunted mammoths, as well as extinct bison, mastodon, gomphotheres, sloths, tapir, camelops, horse, and other smaller animals. More than 125 species of plants and animals are known to have been used by Clovis people in the portion of the Western Hemisphere they inhabited.[18][19]

The oldest Clovis site in North America is believed to be El Fin del Mundo in northwestern Sonora, Mexico, discovered during a 2007 survey. It features occupation dating around 13,390 calibrated years BP.[20] In 2011, remains of gomphotheres were found; the evidence suggests that humans did, in fact, kill two of them there. Also, the Aubrey site in Denton County, Texas, produced an almost identical radiocarbon date.[21]

The most commonly held perspective on the end of the Clovis culture is that a decline in the availability of megafauna, combined with an overall increase in a less mobile population, led to local differentiation of lithic and cultural traditions across the Americas.[9][22] After this time, Clovis-style fluted points were replaced by other fluted-point traditions (such as the Folsom culture) with an essentially uninterrupted sequence across North and Central America. An effectively continuous cultural adaptation proceeds from the Clovis period through the ensuing Middle and Late Paleoindian periods.[23]

Whether the Clovis culture drove the mammoth, and other species, to extinction via overhunting – the so-called Pleistocene overkill hypothesis – is still an open, and controversial, question.[24] It has also been hypothesized that the Clovis culture h

Whether the Clovis culture drove the mammoth, and other species, to extinction via overhunting – the so-called Pleistocene overkill hypothesis – is still an open, and controversial, question.[24] It has also been hypothesized that the Clovis culture had its decline in the wake of the Younger Dryas cold phase.[25] This "cold shock", lasting roughly 1500 years, affected many parts of the world, including North America. This appears to have been triggered by a vast amount of meltwater – possibly from Lake Agassiz – emptying into the North Atlantic, disrupting the thermohaline circulation.[26]

The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, or Clovis comet hypothesis, originally proposed that a large air burst or earth impact of a comet or comets from outer space initiated the Younger Dryas cold period about 12,900 BP calibrated (10,900 14C uncalibrated) years ago.[27][28][29] The hypothesis has been largely contradicted by research showing that most of the findings cannot be repeated by other scientists, and criticized because of misinterpretation of data and the lack of confirmatory evidence.[30][31][32][33]

However, proponents of the hypothesis have responded, disputing the accusation of irreproducibility or replicating their findings.[34][35][36][37][38][39] In 2013, a group from Harvard reported finding a layer of increased platinum composition exactly at the Younger Dryas onset in a Greenland ice core, followed in 2017 by a report that the Pt spike had been replicated at 11 continental Younger Dryas sites.[40][41]

A cowboy, George McJunkin, found an ancient bison (Bison antiquus, an extinct relative of the American bison) skeleton in 1908 after a flash flood.[42] The site was first excavated in 1926, near Folsom, New Mexico, under the direction of Harold Cook and Jesse Figgins. On 29 August 1927, they found the first in situ Folsom point with the extinct B. antiquus bones. This confirmation of a human presence in the Americas during the Pleistocene inspired many people to start looking for evidence of early humans.[43]

In 1929, 19-year-old Ridgely Whiteman, who had been closely following the excavations in nearby Folsom in the newspaper, discovered the Clovis site near the Blackwater Draw in eastern New Mexico. Despite several earlier Paleoindian discoveries, the best documented evidence of the Clovis complex was collected and excavated between 1932 and 1937 near Clovis, New Mexico, by a crew under the direction of Edgar Billings Howard until 1935 and later by John Cotter from the Academy of Natural Sciences/University of Pennsylvania. Howard's crew left their excavation in Burnet Cave, New Mexico, (the first truly professionally excavated Clovis site) in August, 1932, and visited Whiteman and his Blackwater Draw site. By November, Howard was back at Blackwater Draw to investigate additional finds from a construction project.[42]

The American Journal of Archaeology (January–March, 1932 V36 #1) in its "Archaeological Notes" mentions E. B. Howard's work in Burnet Cave, including the discovery of extinct fauna and a "Folsom type" point 4 ft below a Basketmaker burial. This brief mention of the Clovis point found in place antedates any work at the Dent Site in Colorado. Reference is made to a slightly earlier article on Burnet Cave in The University Museum Bulletin of November, 1931.

The first report of professional work at the Blackwater Draw Clovis site is in the 25 November 1932, issue of Science News. The publications on Burnet Cave and Blackwater Draw directly contradict statements by several authors (for example see Haynes 2002:56 The Early Settlement of North America) that Dent, Colorado was the first excavated Clovis site. The Dent Site, in Weld County, Colorado, was simply a fossil mammoth excavation in 1932. The first Dent Clovis point was found 5 November 1932, and the in situ point was found 7 July 1933. The in situ Clovis point from Burnet Cave was excavated in late August, 1931 (and reported early in 1932). E. B. Howard brought the Burnet Cave point to the 3rd Pecos Conference, September 1931, and showed it around to several archaeologists interested in early humans (see Woodbury 1983).

Also in 1968, in Montana, a Clovis burial site was found where the remains of a two-year-old child were studied. These remains have been named as Anzick-1 and recently, in 2014, have been used in scientific research.[7]

Available genetic data show that the Clovis people are the direct ancestors of roughly 80% of all living Native American populations in North and South America, with the remainder descended from ancestors who entered in later waves of migration.[44][45] As reported in February 2014, DNA from the 12,600-year-old remains of Anzick boy, found in Montana, has affirmed this connection to the peoples of the Americas. In addition, this DNA analysis affirmed genetic connections back to ancestral peoples of northeast Asia. This adds weight to the theory that peoples migrated across a land bridge from Siberia to North America.[4]

Clovis First

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