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Research

Some archaeologists argue that Clovis represents the founding population of the New World.  These researchers see a group of hunters migrating from Siberia sometime before 13,000 cal yr B.P., crossing the Bering Land Bridge (the dry land connection between Siberia and Alaska), and entering the New World through an ice free corridor between the two large ice sheets that covered Canada at the very end of the Pleistocene.  These early people brought with them a sophisticated late Paleolithic tool kit and technology and somewhere along the migration the characteristic Clovis point developed.  Proponents of this "Clovis-First" model point out that there are no sites with indisputable artifacts that are clearly older than Clovis, and that the sudden appearance of the Clovis complex across North America between 13,100 and 12,900 cal yr B.P. signals the rapid spread of a colonizing population.

Illustration of Paleo-Americans setting up campOther archaeologists support the competing "Pre-Clovis" model arguing that humans colonized the Americas long before 13,000 cal yr B.P., and claim that "Clovis-First" supporters have been overly critical of early sites in the Americas.   Further, they point out that within a period of several centuries after Clovis, the Americas had become filled with numerous diverse cultures, too many to be explained by such a short chronology. 

The antiquity of the first Americans, where they came from, and how they got to the New World remain unresolved.

The North Star Archaeological Research Program

Illustration of a Paleo-American Spear

The North Star Archaeological Research Program focuses on understanding the earliest inhabitants of the Americas.  The objective of the North Star Program is to investigate Clovis and potential pre-Clovis archaeological sites in the New World.  The emphasis of this program is on field research–archaeological and geoarchaeological investigations.  Projects are funded primarily from earnings from a permanent endowment created at Texas A&M University by Joe and Ruth Cramer in 2002.  Their vision and generosity has contributed substantially to our knowledge of the first Americans.  Additional funding for research projects is provided by private donations, grants, and contracts.  Michael Waters is the Executive Director of the North Star Archaeological Research Program.


Current Projects

Texas

Debra L. Friedkin, Texas (Buttermilk Creek)

Photo of excavations at the Buttermilk Creek SiteSince the summer of 2006, the Center has been excavating at the Buttermilk Creek site in central Texas. This site is located along Buttermilk Creek, just 200 m downstream of the Gault site. Two large excavation blocks have been excavated. Excavation Block A is located on the western end of the site. Here there is a long sequence of occupation within floodplain sediments. Late Prehistoric and Archaic artifacts are found in the upper and middle portions of the floodplain sediments. Below this is a 10 cm thick Clovis horizon. The types of artifacts found indicate that this area was a Clovis camp. Additional artifacts, including bifaces and blades, were found below the Clovis horizon and may be older. Excavation Block B is located on the eastern end of the site. In this area, a Clovis activity area was encountered with many tools. Mike Waters is directing this project.

Waters, Michael R., Steven L. Forman, Thomas A. Jennings, Lee C. Nordt, Steven G. Driese, Joshua M. Feinberg, Joshua L. Keene, Jessi Halligan, Anna Lindquist, James Pierson, Charles T. Hallmark, Michael B. Collins, James E. Wiederhold3 (2011) The Buttermilk Creek Complex and the Origins of Clovis at the Debra L. Friedkin Site, Texas Science 331:1599-1603. (pdf-article), (pdf-supporting material)


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Hogeye Clovis Cache, Texas

Clovis artifact from the Hogeye cache

A cache of 54 Clovis bifaces and points was discovered several years ago in a sand pit near Bastrop, Texas. Field investigations were undertaken in 2010 to define and date the stratigraphy at the site. Analysis of the bifaces is underway. All the bifaces are made of Edwards Chert and range from large bifaces with rounded ends, to late stage preforms, to finished projectile points. A book is planned about this cache which will detail the history of the cache, its geological context, detailed description and analysis of the bifaces, and the broader implications of this discovery.

See 3D images of Hogeye Artifacts:

Biface.pdf (22MB) - Point.pdf (18.4 MB)

Click on the pdf image to manipulate
Clovis artifact from the Hogeye cache

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Gault Clovis site, Texas

Texas A&M University excavations at the Gault siteThe Gault site, Texas contains the greatest density of buried Clovis artifacts in North America.  Geoarchaeological investigations at Gault defined a complex stratigraphy of channel, bar, and floodplain sediments and buried paleosols.  At the base of the sequence, Clovis artifacts occur in primary contexts Clovis artifacts in the lowers levels at the Gualt sitewithin pond clays and in overlying floodplain deposits.  Clovis artifacts include fluted projectile points, bifaces in all stages of reduction, blade cores, blades, core tablets, end scrapers, and other tools and debitage.  Folsom, Late Paleoindian and Archaic artifacts occur in overlying floodplain deposits.

Excavations in 2000 and 2001 by Texas A&M University (Michael Waters, Harry Shafer, and David Carlson) recovered over 74,000 pieces of debitage and over 1300 artifacts, mostly from the Clovis horizons.  Analyses have focused on the Clovis material and include studies of the biface and blade technologies, debitage and expedient tools, and use-wear analysis of the end scrapers and blades.  In addition, the faunal material from the excavations have been analyzed, a micromorphological analysis of the sediments has been completed, and a site formation study is underway.  These analyses are nearing completion.

Beringia

The Alaska Range Uplands Project

Texas A&M University excavations during the Upland Range ProjectThe Alaska Range uplands project investigates how prehistoric hunter-gatherers lived and hunted in the mountainous uplands of the central Alaska Range, from earliest colonization in the late Pleistocene through the late Holocene. Understanding human use of upland landscapes in central Alaska is important because we know very little about when and how initial colonizing populations adapted to this challenging landscape, and how upland subsistence activities changed throughout prehistory. Current research predicts initial forays into the uplands during the late Pleistocene, and intensified use of upland resources in the middle and late Holocene, as hunter-gatherers focused on upland hunting of caribou and sheep during the summer and fall months. Upland hunting activities may have significantly influenced prehistoric hunting technology. Research suggests thaTexas A&M University excavations at the Upland Range Projectt hunters took advantage of abundant upland stone resources to fashion bifacially-worked stone projectile points, instead of the osseous inset-microblade projectile points used for lowland hunting during wintertime periods of stone-resource stress. However, it is difficult to assess these predictions and fully understand hunter-gatherer upland use with our current knowledge. The majority of well-documented archaeological sites in central Alaska are located in the lowlands of the Nenana and Tanana river valleys, while in the uplands of the central Alaska Range, few prehistoric sites have been fully documented. The Alaska Range uplands project is our effort to improve our knowledge of prehistoric upland activities. Our research combines archaeological, geomorphological, and paleoecological research to ask: when did humans first begin targeting resources in the uplands, and what was the environmental context of this use? How did the upland environment and use of upland resources change over time? How did use of upland resources influence stone tool manufacture, especially bifacial projectile versus inset-microblade weapons? This project encompasses research in the Nenana Valley and Denali National Park and Preserve, but is primarily focused in the upper Susitna River basin, central Alaska. The Alaska Range Uplands Project was partially funded by The Roy J. Schlemon Student Field Geoarchaeology Award, and the National Science Foundation Arctic Social Sciences Program. Since 2010, this project has provided many field and laboratory research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in the CSFA.

More about The Alaska Range Uplands Project

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Dry Creek, Alaska

Texas A&M University excavations at the Dry Creek siteDuring July and August of 2011 we renewed excavations at the Dry Creek site to better understand the geoarchaeological context of the site's late Pleistocene human occupations. The site is located on the Healy-aged glacial outwash terrace along the Nenana River near the town of Healy, Alaska. At one time Dry Creek was considered the most important late Pleistocene site in Alaska because it provided multiple terminal Pleistocene cultural components, reflecting at least two separate occupations of the region before the onset of the Holocene: one dating to about 13,500-13,000 calendar years ago and a second dating to about 12,000 calendar years ago. Recently, some have questioned the geoarchaeological integrity and separation of Dry Creek's two archaeological layers. Our main objective for revisiting Dry Creek was to investigate these concerns from multiple avenues. First, we excavated a few small blocks to understand the horizontal and vertical relationships of the component 1 and 2 artifacts. Second, we collected micromorphological and column sediment samples to better understand geological formation of the site's late Pleistocene-early Holocene deposits. Third, we collected several dating samples (both charcoal and OSL) to get a better handle on the chronology of these deposits.Texas A&M University excavations at the Dry Creek site Additionally, we plan to undertake refitting and spatial analyses between and within cultural components to supplement our geoarchaeological study of site formation. During our field visit this past summer we opened 10m2 (two 2m x 2m blocks, and one 1m x 2m block). Currently, we are processing these materials and samples in the lab. Kelly Graf is directing this project with assistance from Ted Goebel and Nancy Bigelow. Funding support came from the Elfreida Frank Fund.
Stay tuned for more on Dry Creek!


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Owl Ridge, Alaska

Photo of excavations in AlaskaIn 2007 we renewed excavation of the Owl Ridge site, located along the Teklanika River in central Alaska. Owl Ridge is an important early site in the region because it contains two terminal Pleistocene-aged cultural occupations: one dating to about 13,000 calendar years ago and a second dating to about 12,000 calendar years ago. Our objectives for this project have been to establish a reliable chronology for the site's multiple occupations, increase the artifact sample from each of the components, and search for cultural features to help reconstruct site activities and better understand how the site was used during each occupation. In 2009 we spent 3 weeks with a small crew of 3 graduate students and opened 14m2. In 2010 we excavated for 6 weeks with a crew of 10 (including 4 undergraduate and 4 graduate students), opening an additional 37m2. We found artifact clusters associated with all 3 cultural occupations. Additionally, we reaffirmed the Allerød age of the Nenana complex layers and established a Younger Dryas age for the Denali complex layer. Currently, we are analyzing materials from the excavations and preparing preliminary reports on our results. Kelly Graf is directing this project with assistance from Ted Goebel (spatial analysis), Mike Waters (Geoarchaeology), and Nancy Bigelow (palynology). The 2009-2010 Owl Ridge excavation project was funded by the National Science Foundation's Archaeology and Arctic Sciences programs. Initial testing of the site in 2007 was partially funded by Elmer A. Guerri.


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Serpentine Hot Springs, Bering Land Bridge National Park, Alaska

Fluted points from the Serpentine Hot Springs siteSince 2009, CSFA archaeologists have been excavating the Serpentine Hot Springs fluted-point site, located in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska. Excavations have yielded some of the first fluted points in a stratified and datable context in Alaska. Through 2010, two hearth features had been uncovered, and each wasTexas A&M University excavations at the Serpentine Hot Springs site associated with a fragment of a fluted point. Charcoal from the hearths suggest an age of about 12,000 calendar years ago. A total of six fluted-point fragments have been recovered from the site so far; they are very similar technologically and morphologically to fluted points from other surface or near-surface Alaskan sites-they have deeply concave bases and multiple flutes, and technologically they seem to have been fluted using an instrument-assisted approach. The results of our work suggest that fluted-point technology spread into Alaska from temperate North America after the time of Clovis.
More about Serpentine Hot Springs


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photo of excavations in the Nenan Valley, AlaskaPaleolithic Research in the Nenana Valley, Alaska

An important component of Center research is understanding the origins of the first Americans in Beringia, the region today made up of Alaska, Yukon Territory, northeast Siberia, and the now-submerged Bering Sea platform. In 2007 we resumed field research in the North Alaska Range (central Alaska), investigating important Nenana Complex sites like Walker Road, Dry Creek, and Owl Ridge. The research is centered on two problems. First, we are undertaking a comprehensive survey of the Nenana Valley's "lithic landscape," to understand how the first occupants of the region provisioned themselves with tool-stones. Second, Photo of surveying in Alaska we have begun a comprehensive reconnaissance survey and site-testing program in the valley. In earlier years, excavations focused on a few well-stratified sites dating chiefly to the terminal Pleistocene and situated in the Healy area of the valley. Our program is focusing on sites of all ages situated in a variety of landforms from deep in the Alaska Range north into the Tanana flats, to chronicle and explain change in hunter-gatherer technological organization and land-use throughout the last 13,000 years. Ted Goebel directs this project.

Graf, K. E., T. Goebel (2009) Upper Paleolithic Toolstone Procurement and Selection at the Sites of Dry Creek, Alaska and Ushki-5, Russia. In Lithic Materials and Paleolithic Societies, edited by B. Blades and B. Adams, pp. 54-77. Blackwell Publishers, London. (pdf)

Great Basin
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Bonneville Estates Rockshelter, Nevada

Photo of excavations at the Bonneville Estates RockshelterCenter staff have been excavating at Bonneville Estates Rockshelter since 2000, exposing a series of well-preserved cultural layers spanning from the late Pleistocene to historic times. The rockshelter's earliest fire hearth dates to about 10,800 to 12,800 cal BP, and an intensive Paleoindian occupation spans fromPhoto of excavations at the Bonneville Estates Rockshelter about 9,500 to 11,000 cal BP. Paleoindians repeatedly revisited the rockshelter, leaving behind stemmed bifacial points and a variety of bifaces and flake tools, bone awls, cordage fragments, and bone beads. Associated ecofacts include well-preserved bones of artiodactyls (antelope, deer, bighorn sheep), small mammals, and, most interestingly, sage grouse. Amazingly, these birds appear to have been the focus of human subsistence at Bonneville Estates, and indicate that Paleoindians had settled into the eastern Great Basin's unique environment soon after the Clovis era.

Excavations at Bonneville Estates will concluded in 2009, and this will be followed by several years of multidisciplinary laboratory analyses of the materials recovered. The Bonneville Estates team has been co-directed by Ted Goebel (CSFA), Kelly Graf (University of Nevada, Reno), Bryan Hockett (Elko Field Office, BLM), and David Rhode (Desert Research Institute). The Bonneville Estates Rockshelter project has been funded by the National Science Foundation Archaeology Program and the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

Goebel, T., K. Graf, B. Hockett, D. Rhode (2007) The Paleoindian Occupations at Bonneville Estates Rockshelter, Danger Cave, and Smith Creek Cave (Eastern Great Basin, U.S.A.): Interpreting Their Radiocarbon Chronologies. In: On Shelter’s Ledge: Histories, Theories and Methods of Rockshelter Research, edited by M. Kornfeld, S. Vasil’ev, L. Miotti, pp. 147-161. BAR International Series. (pdf)

Repanshek, Kurt (2007) The Bonneville Estates Rockshelter: Uncovering Thousands of Years of Occupation. American Archaeology 11(1):26-31. (pdf)


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Fenn Cache Analysis

Photo of the surface area at the Fenn Cache localityThe Fenn Cache is one of the most compelling Clovis features ever to surface— a collection of 56 Clovis artifacts reportedly discovered in a field Photo of a Clovis point from the Fenn Cache somewhere near the juncture of the Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho borders. In 2007 we began a multi-faceted analysis of the Fenn Cache artifacts. The artifacts are made on two kinds of chert, "Pigeon Blood" chert presumably from southeast Utah and "oil" chert from southwest Wyoming. Following leads from Bruce Bradley, we have visited potential sources of both cherts, collecting samples for geochemical analyses (INAA, XRF), to see if we can discern the two sources and match them with the Clovis artifacts. We are also using replicas of Clovis points and bifaces made on both materials in a series of experiments, so that we can conduct high-power microscopic use-wear analysis of the points and bifaces, and interpret possible traces of edge, hafting, and bag wear. We are also measuring each artifact, conducting technological as well as morphometric analyses of them, for comparisons with other Clovis artifacts from interior western North America.

U.S. Continental
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Aucilla River Geoarchaeological Project, Florida

Photo of excavations at the Hueyatlaco siteThousands of bone and ivory tools and dozens of Clovis points have been discovered in submerged sinkhole sites within the Aucilla River of northern Florida since the advent of SCUBA diving in the mid 20th century. Many of the bone and all of the ivory tools were manufactured from megafauna that have been extinct since the end of the Pleistocene, so these osseous artifacts are often presumed to be Paleoindian in age.Photo of excavations at the Hueyatlaco site The submerged context of these materials has given archaeologists a glimpse at a rich organic material record that rarely preserves elsewhere. Nearly all of the recovered items, however, were found by avocational archaeologists, and very few were discovered in excavated contexts, making it difficult to interpret human activities during the terminal Pleistocene. The Center is conducting a geoarchaeological analysis of two submerged sinkholes in the lower Aucilla River in order to better understand Paleoindian behavior in this region. Both underwater and terrestrial field research are being conducted and include coring inaccessible sediments, archaeological excavation, and remote sensing. Post fieldwork studies include analyzing sediment cores and samples and obtaining an extensive radiocarbon chronology. The goal of the project is to reconstruct late Pleistocene environments of the Aucilla River area, reconstruct site formation processes impacting these site locations since Paleoindians visited, and understand regional Paleoindian activities. Ph.D. student Jessi Halligan is conducting this project under the supervision of Mike Waters. The Aucilla River project is funded by the National Science Foundation Archaeology Program, North Star Archaeological Research Program, and Women Divers Hall of Fame.


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Manis Mastodon Site, Washington

In 1973, a single mastodon was excavated on the Olympic Peninsula by Carl Gustavson. The mastodon remains were dated to about 14,000 years ago and the animal appeared to have been butchered by humans. No stone tools were found at the site, but one rib of the mastodon had a bone object embedded in it. Gustavson interpreted this to be a bone projectile point. For many years the evidence from this site has been debated. Using modern technologies-advanced AMS radiocarbon dating technology, high resolution X-ray CT imaging, and DNA and protein sequencing-we reanalyzed the evidence from the Manis site. This reexamination shows that the object is a bone projectile point and that the site is 14,000 years old. This provides unequivocal evidence of pre-Clovis mastodon hunting at the close of the Ice Age.

View animated - Ct Scans - 3D reconstructions of bone point - pitch - yaw - roll

Watch Dr. Michael Waters discuss the evidence from the Manis Mastodonsite in an interview conducted by the publishers of Science.

Waters, Michael R. , Thomas W. Stafford Jr., H. Gregory McDonald, Carl Gustafson, Morten Rasmussen, Enrico Cappellini, Jesper V. Olsen, Damian Szklarczyk, Lars Juhl Jensen, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, and Eske Willerslev (2011) Pre-Clovis Mastodon Hunting 13,800 Years Ago at the Manis Site, Washington. Science 334:351-353.
(pdf),(pdf-supporting material)


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Mud Lake, Wisconsin

photo of testing at Mud Lake, WisconsinNear Mud Lake, Wisconsin (Kenosha County), the fore limb and toe bones of a mammoth were recovered in the 1930s and these bones showed extensive evidence of butchering.  Later radiocarbon dating by Dan Joyce (Curator of Archaeology, Kenosha Public Museum) showed that the bones were 13,500 14C yr B.P.  In partnership with Dan Joyce, Mike Waters conducted an extensive hand coring operation in 2004 that resulted in the definition of the site stratigraphy and four target areas where the mammoth bones could have originally come from based on historical accounts.  In 2004 and 2005 we extensively tested all four areas.  These tests failed to find any additional traces of the mammoth.  Radiocarbon dates on wood obtained from the trenches confirms that we were in the correct location and examining sediments of the correct age in our search for the Mud Lake Mammoth.   The Mud Lake mammoth bones were studied at the Kenosha Public Museum by Haskell Greenfield. A final report of the site is being prepared.

Mexico
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Hueyatlaco, Mexico

Photo of excavations at the Hueyatlaco siteSeveral potential pre-Clovis localities were found in the 1960s around the edge of the Valsequillo Reservoir, Mexico.  One of these localities is the site of Hueyatlaco.  This site was excavated by Cynthia Irwin-Williams in 1962, 1964, and 1966.  At this site, numerous unifacial flake tools were found with extinct fauna.  Questions about the stratigraphy, location of the artifacts, and dating have plagued this site.  In 2003, a trip was made to the Smithsonian Archives in Maryland and the files of Cynthia Irwin-Williams were examined.  Numerous maps and files were photocopied and this material was used to reconstruct the excavations conducted at the site in 1962, 1964, and 1966.Photo of excavations at the Hueyatlaco site  Field investigations were undertaken during May and June of 2004 at Hueyatlaco.  Three trenches were excavated at the site in order to examine and evaluate the stratigraphy at Hueyatlaco.  We were able to confirm that the Hueyatlaco Ash did indeed overlie what was reported to be the unifacial artifact-bearing deposits (Bed I).  An unconformity separated the alluvium containing the bifacial material (Bed E and C).  Samples of the Hueyatlaco Ash and other units are being dated by a variety of different techniques.  These dates will resolve once and for all the age of this important site. This research is being done in collaboration with Mike Waters, Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales (INAH), Patricia Ochoa-Castillo (National Museum of Anthropology), and Mario Perez-Campa (INAH).


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Past Projects

Topper site, South Carolina

Photo of the Topper site excavationThe Topper site is a proposed Pre-Clovis locality that is being excavated under the direction of Dr. Al Goodyear (South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology).    Michael Waters in conjunction with Steve Forman (University of Illinois, Chicago), Tom Stafford (Stafford Research Laboratories), and John Foss (University of Tennessee) conducted geoarchaeological investigations of the site from 1999 to 2004.  A final report on the geology of the site is nearing completion.  While the geological context and age of the sediments that contain the reported Pre-Clovis artifacts are secure, questions remain about the origin of the reported artifacts.  The Topper assemblage may be the result of human manufacture or may also be the result of natural thermal spalling. 

Waters, Michael R., Steven L. Forman, Thomas W. Stafford, Jr. and John Foss (2009) Geoarchaeological investigations at the Topper and Big Pine Tree sites, Allendale County, South Carolina Journal of Archaeological Science 36:1300-1311. (pdf)


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Photo of a Clovis point from the East Wenatchee site, WashingtonClovis Dating Project

A multi-year project was undertaken to refine the Clovis chronology. Clovis had been historically dated at a number of sites across North America from 11,500 to 10,900 14C yr B.P. However, these dates were obtained over a 40 year period on a variety of materials and utilized a range of older radiocarbon technologies. Thus, there was a need to obtain new dates from many of the previously dated Clovis sites using modern pretreatment procedures and the atomic accelerator. An evaluation of the radiocarbon dates from all the dated Clovis sites, as well as new radiocarbon dates from many of these sites provided startling results. The radiocarbon dates from the Clovis sites of Lange-Ferguson (South Dakota), Sloth Hole (Florida), Anzick (Montana), Dent (Colorado), Paleo Crossing (Ohio), Domebo (Oklahoma), Lehner (Arizona), Shawnee-Minisink (Pennsylvania), Murray Springs (Arizona), Colby (Wyoming), and Jake Bluff (Oklahoma) all ranged from roughly 11,100 to 10,800 14C yr B.P. When calibrated, these dates fall between 13,200 – 13,100 to 12,900 cal yr B.P. This indicated that Clovis dated to a much narrower time window than previously indicated by the historically older dates. Furthermore, the start of Clovis was much younger than previously thought. These findings had serious consequences for the Clovis First model. The results of this study were published in the journal Science.

Waters, M. R. and T. W. Stafford, Jr. (2007) Redefining the Age of Clovis: Implications for the Peopling of the Americas. Science 315:1122-1126. (pdf-article), (pdf-supporting material)


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Brazoria Woman, Texas

Photo of excavation of Brazoria Woman, Brazoria County, TexasIn Brazoria County, Texas a human skeleton was found at a site designated BZT-1.  Preliminary radiocarbon dates suggested that these remains were around 10,700 years old.  This would make the Brazoria skeleton one of the oldest skeletons found in North America.   Archaeological and geoarchaeological investigations were undertaken at BZT-1 in 2003.  The research team successfully removed the human skeleton and recorded the geology of the site.  In 2004, the skeleton was analyzed.  The remains are those of a young adult female that was intentionally buried face-down with hands crossed in the front in an extended position.  Cause of death was indeterminate.  Careful analysis of the previous radiocarbon dates obtained from the bone and teeth of this skeleton showed that they were on very small carbon samples from non-collagenous fractions.  Thus, the late Pleistocene radiocarbon ages  previously reported are not valid.  Additional bone samples yielded insufficient carbon for a radiocarbon age.  A sample of marine shell in close proximity to the skeleton yielded an age of 5600 14C yr B.P.  A similar age was obtained from a shell midden in the same stratigraphic position, about 100 m from the skeleton.  Thus, the Brazoria Woman fossil is not late Pleistocene, but instead is middle Holocene in age.

Waters, M. R., J. Wiersema and T. W. Stafford, Jr. (2008) A geoarchaeological evaluation of an early human burial from Brazoria County, Texas. Journal of Archaeological Science 35:2425-2433. (pdf)


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Late Paleoindian Biface Cache, Texas

Photo of excavations at the biface cache site, TexasA cache of twenty-five large, late Paleoindian bifaces was recovered from northern Harris County, Texas. Geophysical, geological, and archaeological investigations were conducted at the site in order to look for additional caches and define the geological and chronological context of this cache. It was determined that these bifaces were cached in isolation on a small hill within sandy slope sediments. Luminescence dating confirmed their late Paleoindian age.


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Toloquilla Quarry (Footprint) Locality, Mexico

photo of Footprints from the Toloquilla Quarry Locality, Mexico Link to enlarged version In 2005, a research team in England announced the discovery of hundreds of human footprints in a stone quarry south of Puebla, Mexico.  These human footprints were within a volcanic tuff known as the Xalnene.  The English team reported that the footprints were over 40,000 years old.  The Toloquilla Quarry is very close to the site of Hueyatlaco.  While working at Hueyatlaco, several visits were made to the Toloquilla Quarry to examine the reported footprints and obtain samples for dating.  Samples of the Xalnene Tuff were collected and taken to the Berkeley Geochronology Center for Argon-Argon and Paleomagnetic dating.  These results showed that the rock in which the reported footprints occurred was 1.3 million years old.  The marks on the floor of the quarry, that have been interpreted as human footprints by the English team, are likely marks made during the quarrying of the stone for building material.  This research was done in collaboration with Paul Renne, Joshua Feinberg, and Kim Knight (Berkeley Geochronology Center); and Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales (INAH), Patricia Ochoa-Castillo (National Museum of Anthropology), and Mario Perez-Campa (INAH).

Feinberg, Joshua M., Paul R. Renne, Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, Michael R. Waters, Patricia Ochoa-Castillo and Mario Perez-Campa (2009) Age constraints on alleged "footprints" preserved in the Xalnene Tuff near Puebla, Mexico. Geology 37:267-270. (pdf)

Renne, Paul R., Joshua M. Feinberg, Michael R. Waters, Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, Patricia Ochoa-Castillo, Mario Perez-Campa and Kim B. Knight (2005) Geochronology: Age of Mexican ash with alleged 'footprints'. Nature 438:E7-E8. (pdf)


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The Ushki Site, Kamchatka, Russia

Photo of excavations at the biface cache site, TexasIn 2000, Ted Goebel and Michael Waters joined Margarita Dikova in a re-excavation of the Ushki site, located in central Kamchatka, Russia. The goal of the project was to document the existence of a 16,000-year-old cultural occupation labeled layer 7, which many archaeologists had pointed to as a possible Clovis ancestor. We focused our study on two loci of the Ushki sites, Ushki-1 and Ushki-5, excavating test pits at both localities and opening a 5-x-5-m block at Ushki 5. In every excavation we identified layer 7, and collected ancient charcoal samples for radiocarbon dating. In every case the charcoal yielded radiocarbon ages of about 13,000 calendar years ago, 3000 years younger than earlier dating results suggested. Our work demonstrated that layer 7 at Ushki is too young to be an ancestor of Clovis. Instead, it seems to date to the same time as Clovis, as well as to the same time as the Nenana complex in central Alaska. The lithic assemblages from layer 7 at Ushki and the Nenana complex sites are very similar, and could represent the same population of early Asians expanding into Beringia during the late Pleistocene. How they relate to Clovis south of the Canadian ice sheets is one of the unsolved mysteries our Beringian research program continues to examine.

Goebel, T., S. B. Slobodin, M. R. Waters (2010) New Dates from Ushki-1, Kamchatka, confirm 13,000 cal BP age for earliest Paleolithic occupation. Journal of Archaeological Science 37:2640-2649. (pdf)

Graf, K. E., T. Goebel (2009) Upper Paleolithic Toolstone Procurement and Selection at the Sites of Dry Creek, Alaska and Ushki-5, Russia. In Lithic Materials and Paleolithic Societies, edited by B. Blades and B. Adams, pp. 54-77. Blackwell Publishers, London. (pdf)

Goebel, Ted., Michael R. Waters and Margarita Dikova (2003) The Archaeology of Ushki Lake, Kamchatka, and the Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas. Science 301:501-505. (pdf)


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Upper Paleolithic Research in the Transbaikal, Siberia

Excavations at Transbaikal, SiberiaIn the late 1990s, Ted Goebel and Michael Waters joined Russian archaeologists on a series of expeditions to Upper Paleolithic sites in the Transbaikal region of southeast Siberia. We investigated the geoarchaeology of some important archaeological sites, including the early Upper Paleolithic sites of Tolbaga and Masterov Kliuch, Excavations at Transbaikal, Siberiaand the late Upper Paleolithic site of Studenoe-2. These studies focused primarily on site-formation processes and dating. The early Upper Paleolithic sites dated to around 30,000 years ago and were significantly disturbed by colluvial and cryogenic processes, while the late Upper Paleolithic occupations dated to less than 17,000 years ago and were well-preserved in low-energy floodplain deposits.

Goebel, Ted, Michael R Waters, Ian Buvit, Mikhail V. Konstantinov and Aleksander V. Konstantinov (2000) Studenoe-2 and the origins of microblade technologies in the Transbaikal, Siberia. Antiquity 74:567-575. (pdf)

 
The companion book to the Paleoamerican Odyssey conference is currently sold out. BUT! We are happy to announce that TAMU Press is currently reprinting the volume. Stay tuned for availability!

Mike Waters and colleagues publish article in Nature and present the genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial! (pdf)

Kelly Graf and colleagues publish article in Nature which shows that Siberians on the Mammoth Steppe were direct ancestors of the First Americans! (pdf)

Upcoming Field School Opportunity!
CSFA Summer Field School on the Bering Land Bridge
June 1-July 5, 2014
Ted Goebel and co-authors publish article in Journal of Archaeological Science on excavations, dating, and analysis of Paleoindian deposits at Serpentine Hot Springs, Alaska, a fluted point site on the Bering Land Bridge. (pdf)

Congratulations to John Blong for receiving a $15,000 Dissertation Fellowship from the Office of Graduate Studies at Texas A&M!

 
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