Monday, February 1, 2016

G is for GHOSTS OF THE HEART and C is for Cody Complex!

CLICK ON THIS LINK to find this book
The [bison] cows crowded the bull, the smell of water luring them into the arroyo. The bull stood his ground, pawing the ground and bellowing. The cows shoved the bull, attempting to push him up the arroyo, but he held his ground. Then, one by one, the cows went around the bull, passing through to the inside of the wooden fence.


Chayton knelt with Hoka on top of the hill, patiently waiting for the last of the cows and calves to enter the arroyo. When the last of the tatanka [bison] entered the arroyo, he signaled a hunter on another hillside. Chayton had wanted the tatanka bull in the trap, but it was not going to happen. The hunters would just leave him alone. There was too much risk attacking the bull on the open prairie. The hunt would be more than successful with the cows and the calves. Chayton would let the last of the herd get to the wakon ya [natural water spring] and start drinking before he signaled the attack.


WANA! – NOW!” Chayton bellowed and the hunters sprung the trap. A hunter signaled Tah and Wiyaka who lit their torches and then raced to the arroyo with the other hunters. The hunters arrived at the wooden fence and dropped more dead wood in the gap between the two sides of the arroyo. The hunters then picked up a large log that was lying behind the fence and set it down across the top of the fence. They had sealed the herd into the arroyo, but it would take fire to hold the herd. Tah looked up and saw that the tatanka [bison] bull had already taken off running, abandoning his herd. Tah and Wiyaka threw the torches on the wooden fence and it erupted into flames. Smoke rose as the flames burned into the green sagebrush, creating a huge smoke screen. The smoke signaled Chayton and the other hunters to attack. Carrying large bundles of spears, the hunters ran up to both sides of the arroyo and began heaving spears at the unwary herd. The herd milled around the wakon ya [natural water spring], confused by the spears and the smoke.


A rain of spears fell on the herd from three sides of the arroyo…

I took the above passage from my adventure book entitled GHOSTS OF THE HEART, the second book in my prehistoric saga entitled the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL Trilogy, which is about a tribe of Paleoindian hunters-gatherers from what is now called the Folsom Complex. My trilogy series took place in Texas and Wyoming around 10,700 years ago.

However, this particular blog posting, G is for GHOSTS OF THE HEART, C is for Cody Complex is about another group of real-life Paleoindian hunters-gatherers who lived a thousand years or so after the Folsom People in GHOSTS OF THE HEART. However, over that one thousand years or so, the lifestyle from the Folsom People to Cody Complex People did not change much. They still were nomadic hunters and gatherers whose food economy was based on bison procurement. Perhaps, over that thousand years, there was some refinement in the ways and means of bison procurement, but both the Folsom and Cody Complex cultures were very efficient at it. 

Here is more about the Cody Complex.     
Add caption

The prehistoric artifacts in the photograph represent a prehistoric culture called the Cody Complex. From left to right; a Wyoming Alberta knife form (2.5 inches long), a Wyoming Cody knife, a Colorado Scottsbluff dart point, a Wyoming Eden dart point, a Colorado Firstview dart point, and a western Nebraska Holland (?) dart point. Although Holland projectile points carry several Cody Complex characteristics, many researchers believe that Holland projectile points are actually derivatives from the Dalton prehistoric culture. Now, just a taste about the Cody Complex.            

Jepsen (1951) first coined the word Cody Complex to describe the co-occurrence of Scottsbluff and Eden points at the Horner site in northwest Wyoming. A complex is a group of related traits or characteristics that combine to form a complete activity, process, or cultural unit. The presence of several key implements or tool types in association defines a lithic complex.

Marie Wormington (1957) expanded the Cody Complex to include the co-occurrence of Eden, Scottsbluff, and Cody Knives. Originally, many researchers believed that the Alberta point type preceded the Cody Complex, but radiocarbon dates have shown some time overlap between Alberta and the other Cody Complex artifact types.

Cody Complex people were late Pleistocene / early Holocene hunter-gatherers who placed an emphasis on bison hunting. These people existed between two major environmental phenomenon; the Younger Dryas from 13,000 to 11,500 B.P. and the Altithermal from 7,000 to 4,500 B.P.

The Cody Complex was one of the longest North American Paleoindian traditions, lasting approximately 2,800 calendar years. The Cody Complex’s geographic expanse is second only to the Clovis prehistoric culture. The geographic range for the Cody Complex went from the Great Basin on the west to the St. Lawrence River on the east and from the Canadian plains on the north to the Texas gulf coast on the south. 
All artifacts reside in the John Branney Collection.   

SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL, where it all began! CLICK!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

B is for Burin and S is for Shadows on the Trail, Of Course!

Figure one. Scottsbluff knife form from Wilson County, Texas. The most
interesting feature on this 8,500 year old beauty is its burinated tip. 
A burin was a specialized, chisel-like stone tool created by driving a flake or flakes off the edge of another flake, biface, or blade to produce a ninety-degree edge for working hard substances such as ivory, antler, and bone. The sharp corners created by the burin were so useful that prehistoric knappers deliberately made them. The removed edge fragment is called a burin spall. 
Figure two. Burin tip of the Scottsbluff knife form
pictured in Figure one. Note the stop notch below burin.
This stop notch was to ensure burin did not travel further
down the edge of the knife.

Figure one is a 3.7 inch long Scottsbluff knife form, made from Edward's chert and found on private land in Wilson County, Texas. This artifact is Early Archaic with an approximate age of 8,500 years. The knife form has had two or three resharpenings that have reduced its overall length, but the most interesting feature of this Scottsbluff knife form is its tip. The tip of the knife form at some time was pressure flaked into a burin tip (an engraver) and was retipped two times. 

Most burins and burin spalls were unspectacular. Most people do not even recognize them. Caution is needed in identifying the difference between an impact fracture and a burin. Burination strengthened the tip of this Scottsbluff point exponentially, keeping the edge from failing as it would ultimately do if left sharp.

Figure three. My heart was pumping!
Burination is the flintknapping process where a small, relatively thick flake is removed from a flake, blade or biface using a snapped termination or previous burination scar as the knapping platform.  Burination can also be used to remove a sharp edge for safe handholding of a knife form. Burination was extremely common in the “Old World” Paleolithic of Europe, Siberia, and Beringia. Paleoindians in North America also made and used burins. For some reason, Clovis People only used burination in rare instances, but it became more popular in Folsom and Cody Complex times. Most of my burin tools came from my Folsom and Cody Complex sites.  

Figure four. DRAT! The tip was missing!
I might as well stick with Cody Complex artifacts for another example, even though my prehistoric adventure book series the SHADOW ON THE TRAIL Trilogy took place at least one thousand years before the Cody Complex. On 23 August 2008 I was artifact hunting on the same ranch in northern Colorado that inspired the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL Trilogy. That day, in the sand of a dry stream I saw the artifact in the photo in Figure three. I remember my heart was beating out of my chest. It was obvious what I had found. The square base and the flaking pattern were distinctively Scottsbluff, one of the rare projectile point types from the Cody Complex. After a pretty long photo session, I decided to pull the Scottsbluff point from its sandy grave. When I  dug the Scottsbluff point out of the sand, my heart sunk when I saw the tip was missing. "DRAT!" I yelled when I saw the artifact in Figure four. Broken, I thought. My first impression was that this 2.8 inch Scottsbluff ended its life with an impact fracture, but after taking the point home and studying it, I realized that the approximate 9,000 year old human that made this Scottsbluff point had intentionally created a double burin and used the point for scraping wood or hides.  

Figures five and six
What I think happened was that this projectile point suffered an impact fracture on a hunt or something similar. Maybe the point hit a bison bone and shattered the tip or perhaps it collided with the ground on an errant throw. What I do know is that the Cody Complex hunter than refurbished the broken point. He removed a burin spall on both edges near the impact fracture (Figures five and six). Then the innovative hunter knapped a chisel-like edge on the tip of the impact fracture. He used this Scottsbluff point as both knife and a chisel for use on bone, wood, and hides.

How do I know it was used for this purpose? Elementary, my dear Watson. The tip is well polished from use (actually a different color and texture) and the flaking pattern is different than the rest of the point. The Cody Complex hunter may have re-tipped the burin tip several times before he lost it and I found it 9000 years later.     

Burins found in Paleoindian contexts seldom demonstrate use wear on the edge formed by the burin spall in front of the striking platform. Instead, use wear was on the edge adjacent to the striking platform or point. In the case of this last Scottsbluff point, use wear was on the tip.

So, there we are, a couple of examples of burins on Cody Complex knife forms. You will have to read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL Trilogy to see if the Folsom People made burins. All the information needed to order your copy is below. Don't miss the adventure!    

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

V is for Pleistocene Violence and S is for SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL!


What was the Pleistocene like for humans around 10,700 years ago? In the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL I wrote about what I thought life was like for a particular tribe of Paleoindians called the Folsom People. I believe prehistoric humans not only had to deal with the large and fierce predator animals of the Pleistocene, but also predatory humans, as well. You might disagree with my last point, but the evidence from some of the prehistoric skeletons found would indicate that it was not one big happy human family in Prehistoric America. You might also have the opinion that there were so few humans around ten thousand years ago, that the chances of different tribes coming together was slim and when they did meet, why would they be hostile, there were enough resources for everyone!  
2000 B.C. Cain and Able were a different time
and place than SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL,
but human nature was the same.

My belief is that violence and coveting thy neighbor's belongings is inherent in humans' nature and always has been, even at the dawn of human time. Below is a passage from SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL, in which a tribe of humans called the Mountain People want what another tribe has and the Mountain People will resort to violence to obtain it. I hope you enjoy. 
To'sarre watched Ei Hanit disappear over the hill and then led the other two warriors back up to the boulder on the hill so that they could watch the village. The people in the village kept up their festivities at the campfires until the moon was high in the sky and then one after another they retired to their tipis for sleep. The last person went to sleep in early morning, leaving just two sentries sitting at a campfire. To'sarre pushed away from the boulder and walked quietly towards the warriors’ camp. As he walked, he blew hard into his hands trying to warm them up. It was a cold summer night and not a good night to be without a campfire. To'sarre found Ei Hanit asleep, lying against the base of a large boulder. To'sarre reached out with his left hand, touching the shoulder of Ei Hanit. All of a sudden, To'sarre’s forearm felt excruciating pain when Ei Hanit’s right arm flew up from his lap, driving To'sarre’s arm up into the air. Then as quick as a rattlesnake, Ei Hanit’s left hand gripped To'sarre’s throat and pulled him close to his face.

“What do you want?” Ei Hanit hissed.

“It is almost dawn and the people in the village will be moving about,” To'sarre replied, struggling to speak through his constricted windpipe.

“Gather the warriors on the hill,” Ei Hanit said, shoving To'sarre away.

On the hill, Ei Hanit and To'sarre looked down on the village. The village was completely dark, except for the flames coming from one campfire.

“Two sentries at that campfire,” To'sarre said. “No wolf dogs to warn them.”

“Send our two best warriors to kill the sentries, quietly,” Ei Hanit ordered. “Then attack from this side of the village. The river will prevent them from escaping to the north. Go tipi by tipi and kill everyone except women and children. They can carry our plunder and be our slaves.”

“What about the old?” To'sarre asked.

“Kill them all,” Ei Hanit replied.

To'sarre nodded to Ei Hanit and turned to leave. Ei Hanit grabbed him by the arm and demanded, “Kill them quietly!”

To'sarre crept down the backside of the hill. To'sarre understood why the Mountain People needed food and supplies from other villages, but he could not understand killing people for the sake of killing. However, To'sarre knew better than to ignore Ei Hanit’s orders, otherwise, Ei Hanit would have him and his family killed.

You are going to have to read SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL to find out what happens next, but I can guar-an-tee you that what happens will both surprise and shock you. 

Once you have read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL, then you can read the rest of the trilogy and JOIN THE ADVENTURE!  



Saturday, December 12, 2015

Knapping with Chayton and the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL!

FIGURE ONE. A perfect 2.2 inch long Folsom projectile point found by
Lee Pinello Jr. on November 10, 1968 on a family farm in northern Colorado.
Note the flute or channel running up the middle of the point.    

My prehistoric adventure series entitled the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY took place around 10,700 years ago in what we now call Texas and Colorado. The SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY is about the challenging existence of a group of Paleoindian hunters and gatherers called the Folsom People. What makes the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY somewhat different from other fictional accounts is that the Folsom People actually existed in North America’s prehistoric past. How do we know the Folsom People existed? Easy, they left behind a very distinct calling card, a culturally diagnostic stone projectile point we now classify as a Folsom point type.
Click to read about SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL  

Folsom points (Figure one) are thin, small to medium size, well-made projectile points with convex sides, a concave basal edge, sharp basal corners and ground stem edges. What makes Folsom projectile points distinctive from other prehistoric stone projectile point types? Besides the remarkable workmanship, the other most distinctive characteristic of Folsom projectile points are the flutes or channels that start at the base of the projectile point and run up through the length of the entire projectile point. The knapping skill required to create flutes on a Folsom projectile point is without equal in America’s prehistory. Even modern day knapping experts are challenged in making replica Folsom projectile points using the same tools and materials that were available to Folsom People in the Pleistocene.

When the Folsom People created these thin, fluted, projectile points, they not only created an important component in their weaponry, but they also created works of art. Folsom projectile points are arguably the finest projectile points ever made in North America. No one has yet confirmed the exact manufacturing process that Folsom People used to make these fluted projectile points. This is not to say that people do not have their pet theories, they do. In fact, you can add me to that list of pet theories on how Folsom People made their projectile points.

In the first book of my TRILOGY entitled SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL, I wrote about the manufacturing process I thought the Folsom People used to make these fluted projectile points. Since there has never been any confirmation that the Folsom People had any written language, we have to assume that they passed along their way of life from generation to generation via word of mouth and hands-on experience. The scene below in blue is from SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL. In this
FIGURE THREE. A Colorado found Folsom that
exhibits the three attributes of Folsom projectile points;
1). thinness, 2). fine marginal retouch, and 3). flutes.   
particular scene, a young hunter of the Folsom People named Chayton was learning the knapping process for fluting projectile points from a wise old tribal healer named Tarca Sapa
who also happened to be the grandfather of Tonkala, the young woman Chayton loved. Love was the same in the Pleistocene as it is today! Here is what happened in the scene.

The sun rose for the first time since the decision to leave the canyon. Chayton picked up his ten spear points made from inyan wakan [Lakota Sioux words for 'sacred rocks'] and walked across the village. Chayton could see Tarca Sapa’s long white hair from half way across the village. When Chayton arrived, Tarca Sapa was busy grinding a plant into powder against a grinding stone. Tonkala, Tarca Sapa’s granddaughter, sat close to him grinding up dried chokecherries that she had gathered. She looked up at Chayton with her large green eyes and Chayton’s heart began pounding in his chest. She smiled at him and then quickly glanced down at her grinding stone. Chayton smiled and then turned to her grandfather.

Lay he hun nee key lee la waste!-Good morning!” Chayton said.

Leela ampaytu keen waste,-Today is a good day,” Tarca Sapa answered.

“I have spear points for our journey, but I need you to help me flute them,” Chayton requested.

“I have shown you how to flute before. Why have you not learned what I have taught you?”

“I do not want to ruin these spear points since we leave the canyon tomorrow.”

“Do you think I have nothing better to do than to teach you something I have already taught you?” Tarca Sapa queried. “I will watch you flute only one. The rest you must do yourself.”

Chayton had expected this reaction from Tarca Sapa. It was the old man’s way. Tarca Sapa always complained, but always found the time to ensure Chayton learned properly. Chayton handed Tarca Sapa the spear points, one at a time. Each spear point was approximately the length of a finger and wider than a thumb. The tip of each spear point was slightly rounded, but still dangerously sharp while the base of the spear point, where the spear point attached to a wooden shaft, had two sharp ears. In the middle of the spear point’s base, between the two ears, Chayton had knapped a small square platform. When hit with an antler hammer precisely in the right place, the rock would crack and a long thin flake would detach from the middle of the spear point. A flute channel would remain where the long thin flake detached. How well this square platform was constructed and then struck with the antler hammer meant the difference between a good spear point and a broken spear point.
The platform was where Tarca Sapa focused his eyes. Tarca Sapa looked at each spear point carefully and put each inspected spear point in one of two piles. Once his inspection was over, Tarca Sapa touched the pile with seven spear points and said, “These points are good, the others need work. Now, let me see you drive a flute channel into the spear point.”

With his hands shaking, Chayton opened up his leather pouch and pulled out two thick pads made from buffalo hide and two elk antler hammers. He sat down on a nearby rock and covered his legs with the thick pads. He placed a spear point, tip down, along the inside of his left thigh and then placed an elk antler hammer horizontally on top of the platform at the base of the projectile point. He braced the other end of the elk antler hammer against the inside of his right thigh. When Chayton had the hammer precisely lined up with the small square platform, he took the second elk antler hammer in his right hand and swung down hard on top of the first elk hammer. Nothing happened.

Flustered, Chayton looked over at Tonkala hoping that she was not watching. Chayton then looked at Tarca Sapa hoping for some words of encouragement, but Tarca Sapa only stared straight ahead at the spear point still resting in Chayton’s lap. Chayton nervously lined up the spear point, this time swinging the hammer even harder, striking the spear point with much more force. A solid cracking sound came from the spear point and Chayton looked down and saw the long thin flake that had detached from the spear point. To Chayton’s delight, the spear point had a beautiful flute channel running its entire length.

"It looks like you don’t need me after all.” Tarca Sapa said with a smile. “Take the rest of the spear points and finish them.”

FIGURE FOUR. Unfinished Folsom
projectile point or "preform".
FIGURE FIVE. Striking platform to
create flute on projectile point.
FIGURE SIX. Rounded and beveled tip
of projectile point.

      The spear points that Chayton took to Tarca Sapa for fluting were not finished and looked somewhat like the unfinished Folsom projectile point in Figure four, a photograph of a Folsom preform projectile point certified by archaeological consultant Gregory Perino* and in my personal collection. An unknown finder found this particular Folsom preform projectile point in Mecosta County, Michigan. The material is Norwood Chert. This particular preform was almost ready for fluting. This particular prehistoric knapper had pressure flaked both faces of the preform leaving closely spaced flakes terminating near the middle of the preform or what would soon be a projectile point. The preform tip or distal end of the projectile point was rounded, beveled and had light abrasion and grinding done to it (Figure six). This aided in the fluting process.  ight abrasion and grinding on the tip. Isolation of the central portion of the preform base or proximal end took place, leaving a platform nipple in the center of the base. Two pressure flakes were removed from either side of the platform nipple to allow the maker's antler punch to follow the channel flake easier. The platform nipple was beveled, ground, and polished. It was ready for Side A to be fluted. Age somewhere between 10900 and 10200 years ago. Finder unknown. Perino certification. Ex John Baldwin and Ron Van Heukelom Collections. John Branney Collection.

FIGURE SEVEN. Expert knapper Bob
Patten's pet theory of the way Folsom
People fluted their projectile points.
From Mr. Patten's book
Old Tools - New Ways..   

* One or two knowledgeable people have called
this preform a Barnes Clovis, an older and
possible ancestoral point  to Folsom. They called
it a Barnes Clovis based on provenance. It
is impossible to determine whether this
point is Folsom or Barnes, I will go with
Greg Perino's opinion. 

For fluting to be successful, the prehistoric knapper needed to isolate a striking platform in the center portion of the projectile point base or proximal end. The prehistoric knapper accomplished this by creating a small nipple or striking platform in the center of the preform base (Figure five). Then, the prehistoric knapper removed two pressure flakes from either side of the striking platform so that the maker’s antler punch could reach the striking platform without interference (review Figure four). The prehistoric knapper then beveled, ground, and polished the striking platform or nipple, stabilizing it for knapping.


This preform would have made Tarca Sapa very happy! Read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL for the rest of the story.    




Thursday, November 19, 2015

Midland vs. Folsom and the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY

Figure one. Fluted Folsom projectile point from Colorado.
These fluted projectile points are diagnostic to the
Folsom prehistoric culture in the Pleistocene of North
America. John Branney Collection.

THE SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY  – Adventures from our Prehistoric Past

The passage in red below is from WINDS OF EDEN, the third book in my high energy adventure series called the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY. In this section of the book, an elderly man in the Folsom tribe around 10,700 years ago is passing along to a child the art and craft of making fluted
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projectile points, a hallmark that would come to represent the Folsom prehistoric culture in the archaeological record.
I am sure that this was how people passed on traditions and their way of life from generation to generation, even as far back as ten thousand years, especially since there is currently no archaeological evidence of writing in the human occupancy of America in Pleistocene time. Now, to the passage from WINDS OF EDEN;        

The old man woke up from his nap when the sun was starting its descent in the sky. He reached over and picked up his satchel. He pulled out a large red and gray striped rock and sat staring at it. He rubbed the rock between his thumb and forefinger while thinking about everything that had happened to him since he had carried the rock from the canyon. Much had happened in his life since then, some of it good and some of it bad. When the old man finished reminiscing, he gently placed the red and gray striped rock back into the satchel. Then, with satchel in hand, the old man stood up and left his tipi. When he was outside the tipi, he had to shield his aged eyes from the bright sun. He slowly edged his way to a flat boulder next to his campfire where he sat down. Then, he pulled five unfinished spear points from the satchel. He laid the unfinished spear points down on the boulder next to him and then dug through the satchel, pulling out a cylinder–shaped punch made from an antler, a large antler hammer, small squares of bison hide, and a sharp deer antler tine. He placed these items next to the five unfinished spear points. He leaned over and picked up a flat rock at the base of the boulder. He set the flat rock down next to his other supplies.
When the old man looked up, a young boy was running like the wind towards him.

Haw! – Hello!” the old man said to the young boy when he arrived at the campfire.

Haw!” the boy replied, somewhat out of breath. “I want to watch you.”

Waste! – Good!” the old man declared with a grin.

The young boy sat down as close to the old man as possible without actually sitting on the old man’s lap. The old man picked up the first spear point and handed it to the young boy.

He táku hwo? – What is it?” the old man asked.

The boy studied the piece of chert, his face frozen in a frown as he concentrated on the old man’s question. The young boy flipped the rock over in his hands, studying every surface. His eyes narrowed as he scrutinized the base of the spear point. Between the two sharp ears at the corners of the base of the spear point, the young boy spotted a tiny knob of chert, jutting out at the middle of the base.

Tóka he? – What is wrong?” the old man asked, a whimsical smile on his face.

The boy flicked the tiny knob with his thumbnail and replied, “You have dulled this part.”

The young boy then ran his thumb across the small knobbed platform and said, “It is smooth.”

The fluted projectile points that the elderly man is helping the boy with became so distinctive that there is no mistaking them for any other projectile point type in the archaeological record. However, did the Folsom People only make this one type of projectile point? I will provide some facts below and let you draw your own conclusions.

A Pleistocene Woman Discovered at Midland, Texas 

In 1953, an avocational archaeologist by the name of Keith Glasscock discovered fossilized human

Figure two. Kansas Folsom and Colorado Midland
projectile points, both made from Alibates chert.
John Branney Collection.
remains in a sand blowout six miles southwest of Midland, Texas. Mr. Glasscock also found several diagnostic Folsom artifacts and a similar unfluted projectile point in these blowouts. Mr. Glasscock understood the importance of finding the fossilized human remains and artifacts. He contacted archaeologist Fred Wendorf who investigated the sand blowouts with Mr. Glasscock and other archaeologists. In all, Glasscock and the archaeologists found seven fluted Folsom projectile points and twenty-one unfluted Folsom-like points during their investigations. The archaeologists had hoped to determine the age of the human remains and the relationship with the two types of projectile points found nearby. Wendorf and his colleagues named the site Scharbauer, after the landowner and initially coined the term “unfluted Folsom” points to describe the projectile points found associated with the fluted Folsom points. In an attempt to classify these unfluted Folsom points, the archaeologists looked for similarities and differences with fluted Folsom points. They evaluated the raw material used in making the different projectile points to see if these were possibly different people who had come from different places, but the archaeologists determined that the makers of the fluted Folsom points and the unfluted Folsom points used the same materials. The archaeologists also proposed that many of the unfluted Folsom points were intentionally made without flutes and were just not Folsom rejects. Based on the high volume of unfluted Folsom points found at the Scharbauer site, Wendorf eventually proposed a new name for the unfluted Folsom points, calling them Midland for the nearby town. The name has stuck.     

Figure three. Colorado Folsom and Midland
projectile points. John Branney Collection.

The investigation of the blowouts at the Scharbauer site ultimately led to the conclusion that the human remains were that of a woman who had lived sometime in the late Pleistocene and that the associated Folsom / Midland artifacts most likely postdated her remains. Therefore, the woman was as young as the Folsom / Midland cultures or as old as an earlier prehistoric culture. Based on the geologic association between the Folsom and Midland points at the site, the investigators concluded that both projectile point types could have been part of the same culture, but their evidence for this was not conclusive.     

Perhaps, the Midland points were reworked Folsom points or made from Folsom channel flakes or maybe the Midland points were too thin for Folsom knappers to flute. Some investigators still argue that Midland was a separate complex from Folsom since there is at least one case of a Midland-only site. If Midland was a separate complex, perhaps there was a projectile point transition from fluted Folsom projectile points.

The Midland Point Mystery

It is my experience that collectors and professionals alike lump other types of projectile points into the Midland projectile point type.
CLICK for information on this book.
The Midland projectile point type has become somewhat of a catchall for other types of projectile points that resemble Midland. I have seen Plainview, Allen, and even Cody Complex points miscategorized as Midland points. This is somewhat understandable since true Midland points have very little to distinguish themselves from the rest of the herd.

Bruce Bradley (2010: 475) had one of the better definitions of Midland that I have read. He described Midland flaking as wide and relatively shallow producing points with very flat cross sections. He noted that pressure flaking may have been used but for the most part the flaking was percussion. He noted that abrupt and continuous marginal retouch thinned Midland points and narrowed the points enough so that elimination of the negative bulbs from thinning flakes occurred. Bradley believed that Midland points were technological distinct and just not failed Folsom points.

Figure four. Broken backs from Wyoming Folsom and
Midland projectile points. John Branney Collection.   
Bradley (2010: 474) stated that even though investigators find Folsom and Midland points together at the same sites, no one has found these two projectile points in a well-defined geologic context that would provide evidence that the two projectile points were in use at the same time, such as would be found in a single-episode kill site. Bradley further stated that investigators have not found Midland artifacts  without the presence of diagnostic Folsom artifacts in the same stratigraphic context, therefore establishing the possibility that Midland may be a separate complex. He noted a possible exception to this at the Gault site in Texas where investigators found a Midland point three centimeters above a Folsom point in a sealed stratigraphic unit.

From a technological basis, Bradley believed that Midland points were more than just unfluted Folsom points. He noted two technological differences between Folsom and Midland; the method in which final shaping and thinning were done and the marginal retouch. Bradley stated that Goshen points complicate the projectile point transition issue since Goshen predated Folsom and many Goshen and Midland points resemble each other.

To date, no radiocarbon dates or geologic relationships conclusively back up the temporal relationship between Folsom and Midland.

What do you think about the relationship between Folsom and Midland?

I believe that Goshen projectile points came into being before Folsom and that Goshen and Folsom ultimately morphed into Midland. However, I believe that evidence will eventually show that these three projectile points types overlapped in both time and space for at least a short time. There is no reason to believe that these people locked on to only one projectile point technology and that was all they used. It is easy for me to speculate, however, it is much more difficult to back that speculation up with archaeological data, at this time. ;).                           

If you have not read THE SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY, I hope you do. I do not believe you will be disappointed with these adventures. Click on this link to order the books.  

Bradley, Bruce 
2010    Paleoindian Flaked Stone Technology on the Plains and in the Rockies. In Prehistoric Hunters-Gatherers of the High Plains and Rockies by Marcel Kornfeld, George C. Frison, and Mary Lou Larson, pp. 474-475. Left Coast Press. Walnut Creek, California.  

Wendorf, Fred, Alex D. Krieger, and Claude C. Albritton
1955    The Midland Discovery. Greenwood Press. Westport, Connecticut