Thursday 26 August 2021

Michigan US: New Clovis Site Discovered


A Clovis campsite has been discovered and reported by an artefact hunter in Michigan (University of Michigan press release, 'Farm field find rewrites archaeological history in Michigan', August 23, 2021)

Thomas Talbot, a self-taught researcher, found the first Clovis spear point in 2008, in the fields of a farm in early spring. He often walks the fields at this time of year, after the fields have been plowed, searching for Native American spear points. He said there was no mistaking the point’s origin: It was made of a kind of chert preferred by Clovis in this region, and made using the same technological method so distinct to the Clovis people. The stone, called Attica chert, is found in one region in western Indiana and eastern Illinois, 120 miles away from the Belson site. “Paleolithic pieces—not quite this old, but pieces that are similar—have turned up around Michigan, but usually they are pretty scattered, like maybe someone lost it while they were hunting or walking through,” Talbot said. “So although I thought it was really cool, I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime finding. But other pieces started turning up, and by the end of the spring, it was pretty clear that I had Clovis components at this site.” [...] In all, on his own, Talbot found about nine pieces from the Clovis era — including two pieces of the same spearpoint he found years apart. In 2019, Talbot met Henry Wright, U-M anthropologist and archaeologist, to show him the collection. Wright confirmed Talbot’s suspicions. The following summer, in 2020, U-M researchers led by Nash began the dig at Talbot’s site, now called the Belson Site after the family of farmers who own the land. The Belson site is about 25 meters by 15 meters, similar in size to other Paleoindian camping sites. About 1.5 meters beneath the ground’s surface, the researchers found an intact horizon indicating the campsite. They also found more tools as well as flakes of material that indicate the camp’s inhabitants were making tools on site. [...] To date, the researchers have found more than 20 tools and hundreds of pieces of manufacturing and refurbishment debris..

Posted on YouTube by University of Michigan Aug 23, 2021.

It is interesting that the Clovis material is said to be 1.5m down when the videos and photos show that its on a hilltop and therefore there'd be erosion off the site rather than onto it, and secondly they show trenches les than 50 cm deep. Could it be they are exaggerating the depth to deter trespassers?

It's difficult to know what is going on here. Mr Talbot is called "a self-taught researcher" by the University, but then he talks of showing the archaeologists his "collection". The video shows unlabelled arrowheads arranged by the 'trainspotter types' collectors use to arrange their collections. When is a researcher not a researcher in US scholarship? 

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