Friday, September 16, 2016

WINDS OF EDEN - What's the Gunk on That Rock?

Figure One. The artifact inspiring the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY.
Side B of 4.1 inch long discoidal biface made from Alibates Chert.

For those of you who are not aware, the seed for the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY sprouted on an early summer morning in 2010 on a northern Colorado ranch when
I found a prehistoric stone tool made from a red and gray striped rock only found in a prehistoric rock quarry in Texas (Figures One and Two). I believe that the mysterious Folsom People made this prehistoric stone tool sometime between 10,900 and 10,200 years ago.
Figure Two. The artifact inspiring the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY.
Side A not demonstrating much pedogenic carbonate.

When I found this prehistoric tool, I stared at it for some time, wondering about the ancient people who made it. How did this stone tool end up all the way to a prehistoric campsite in northern Colorado, five hundred miles to the north of the prehistoric rock quarry? Who actually made it? What was he or she like? What happened on its journey from Texas to northern Colorado? Since it was impossible for me to ask the person who made it, I wrote my own version of the journey in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY.    
Figure Three. The Exciting Conclusion. CLICK to ORDER.

Below, I copied a highlighted paragraph from my third book of the prehistoric thriller series entitled the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY. In this particular paragraph, the prehistoric stone tool I write about in paragraph one and two is lost only to be found by me 10,700 years later. I will catch you on the other side of the highlighted paragraph.

Far to the north, near the village of the Folsom People, lightning filled the sky as black clouds rolled in from the west. Chayton’s grandson Cansha and his friends had been hunting and were now running down the steep slope of the bluffs, trying to reach the safety of the village before the storm arrived. The red and gray inyan wakan – sacred rock bounced up and down in the satchel where Cansha kept his grandfather’s gift. As he sprinted to the village, Cancha never noticed that the red and gray sacred rock had fallen out of his satchel and landed on the trail. Later, a vicious thunderstorm struck the village, flooding the grasslands and creeks while burying the red and gray sacred rock. The red and gray sacred rock lay buried on that prairie for well over ten thousand winters until another human came along and discovered it eroding from a dry streambed.


So, what happened to the stone tool between the time it was lost around 10,700 years ago and the time I recovered it in 2010? Obviously, it was buried, otherwise, someone else would have found it before me or a cow or horse hoof would have found it and shattered it into tens of pieces. But, what is that white stuff growing on the top of it in Figure one? That is what is called pedogenic (secondary) carbonate and I will explain it to you.   

Figure Four. Side A of 6.5 inch long ultrathin knife form, made
from obsidian. Side A shows little pedogenic carbonate.   
Pedogenic carbonation occurs when rainwater and atmospheric carbon dioxide combine to form diluted carbonic acid in the soil. This weak acidic water dissolves minerals in the soil, yielding water-soluble calcium carbonate, bicarbonate, and other salts capable of precipitating on other minerals if ground water conditions are suitable.

Figure Five. Side B of 6.5 inch long ultrathin knife form
showing extensive pedogenic carbonate.   
Low rainfall is the single most important factor for the development of pedogenic carbonate. Low rainfall allows the formation of pedogenic carbonates near the surface of the ground. However, high rainfall washes the water-soluble salts into the ground’s water table, removing them from the sediment where we find most artifacts.

Pedogenic carbonate accumulates on or between sediment grains, occluding and cementing the sediment as a result. Pedogenic carbonate forms a geopetal structure that first accumulates on the lowest part of the buried artifact and as time goes on, coats more elevated areas. A geopetal indicator is a characteristic relationship observed in a rock, or sequence of rocks, that makes it possible to determine whether they are the right side up (i.e. in the attitude in which they were originally deposited, also known as "stratigraphic up") or have been overturned by subsequent movement. Regardless of the position the artifact is found, carbonate presence establishes the original up and down surfaces.     

Where It All Began - CLICK TO ORDER

Thursday, July 21, 2016

W is for WINDS OF EDEN, F is for Flat Top Chalcedony!

Figure One. 1.8 inch long Midland dart point found September 2, 1997
on private land in the approximate area of Flat Top Butte. Made from pale
red Flat Top Chalcedony. Age 10,900 to 10,200 years old. John Branney Coll.   
I took the book passage below from my prehistoric thriller WINDS OF EDEN, the third book and finale of the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY. This particular passage of the book illustrates the important prehistoric tradition of flintknapping. In this scene, a grandfather is teaching his grandchildren the art of making projectile points from rock. There is no evidence that North American Paleoindians had written languages, therefore, important traditions such as flintknapping were passed from generation to generation through "show and tell". I will rejoin you on the other side of the book passage.  

The old man motioned for his two young grandchildren to sit down in front of him, close enough to see, but far enough away to avoid flying pieces of sharp rock. The old man readjusted the flat rock with the tip of the spear point. He then carefully positioned the groove in the antler punch with the tiny knob at the base of the spear point. When everything was to his liking, the old man picked up the heavy antler hammer and took a couple of practice swings in the air. The old man then held the antler hammer above the antler punch and swung down with enough force to transfer energy from the antler punch through the rock. The rock popped loudly and when the old man lifted up the spear point for the children to see, a flute or groove ran longitudinally up the entire length of the spear point. The children laughed as if it they had just witnessed great magic. Their eyes were as big as the moon as they looked around at each other. The old man gazed around at the children, smiling. The old man was proud of the flute in the spear point and relieved that he could still do it. However, what made him the happiest was passing down the fluting tradition to the next generation of the tribe.


 WINDS OF EDEN and the other two books in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY chronicled the  prehistoric adventures of a band of paleoindians who trekked across a future Texas to a future northern Colorado
around 10,700 years ago. On their way from Texas to northern Colorado, these prehistoric explorers encountered different groups of humans, both good and bad; fierce mammals, some now extinct; and acts of nature that would frighten to death most of us modern-day wimps

The SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY featured a paleoindian named Chayton from an actual prehistoric culture called Folsom. On the adventure northward, Chayton brought with him stone tools made from Alibates Chert from a true-to- life prehistoric rock quarry in Texas. When I found a paleoindian stone tool in 2010 made from Alibates Chert on a prehistoric campsite in northern Colorado, I had to write the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY , to tell my story about how that stone tool ended up there. I now call this prehistoric site in northern Colorado the Shadows on the Trail prehistoric site in honor of my trilogy.

Paleoindians were nomads with an objective for survival. They followed the migration of the bison herds, the heart of their survival . Since paleoindians did travel and trade, it is not uncommon to find artifacts made from rock types that originated in other  regions of the country, such as the Alibates Chert I found in northern Colorado. During their relatively short lifetimes, Paleoindians used a lot of rock for knapping tools and projectile points Since, paleoindians couldn't possibly haul all the rock they needed around with them from place to place, they had to identify new sources of rock as they moved around the country. As I previously mentioned, the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY ended up in northern Colorado, very near another documented prehistoric rock quarry. In my books, I never had Chayton and the Folsom People visit the prehistoric quarry twenty miles away from my Shadows on the Trail prehistoric site, but I have found quite a lot of the rock from this prehistoric quarry on the Shadows on the Trail site. The rock type found in this prehistoric quarry is called Flat Top Chalcedony and here is a little bit of information about it. I photographed the source for Flat Top Chalcedony in Figure Three.  

Figure Three. Prehistoric quarry Flat Top Butte in northern Colorado on August 2001.

Flat Top Chalcedony was named for the prehistoric rock quarries at Flat Top Butte in Logan County, Colorado, Flat Top Chalcedony originates in the Horsetail Member of the White River Formation of Oligocene age where it formed in cavities in the fresh water limestones.
Figure Four. 1.2 inch long Folsom dart point found
at the Shadows on the Trail site on August 30, 2006.
Made from Flat Top Chalcedony. John Branney Coll.

Flat Top Chalcedony is a purple/lavender, pale red, tan or white silicon based rock found in abundance in northeastern Colorado. Anyone who has artifact hunted in northeastern Colorado, the panhandle of Nebraska, and southeastern Wyoming has found chipping debris made from Flat Top Chalcedony. It is arguably the most abundant prehistoric raw material found in northeastern Colorado.
Figure Five. 3.3 inch long Paleoindian blade made from a lavender-colored
Flat Top Chalcedony and recovered on private land in northern Colorado
on May 24, 2003. John Branney Collection.       

From a mineralogical perspective, chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline or fine-grained variety of quartz that has a waxy luster. It is often times transparent or translucent, but can be opaque. It varies in color from white to gray to blue to brown to red and other shades. It occurs most frequently as rounded or imitative forms, or as linings in rock cavities.

Chalcedony is a general term and specific names are used for specifically colored varieties, such as Flat Top Chalcedony. Some experts believe chalcedony is an independent mineral from quartz while other experts regard chalcedony as a mixture of quartz and opal (hydrous silica gel). Other examples of specific types of chalcedony include agate, jasper, and onyx.

So, there you have it, a little bit of information on chalcedony, Flat Top Chalcedony, and of course, my books. Click on the links below my book covers to find out more information on how to read AND join the adventure SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY. 



Sunday, June 19, 2016

A is for Angostura and S is for SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY

Figure One - 3 inch long Angostura spear / knife form surface recovered on private
land in Goshen County, Wyoming. John Branney Collection.
For those of you who have read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY you will remember that the books were about the Folsom People, those mystical Paleoindians who lived on the Great Plains over ten thousand years ago. I have previously written blogs and magazine articles about who came before the Folsom People and some of the people who came after. For those Paleoindians who came before and after the Folsom People, the culture and subsistence strategy did not change a whole lot.
Below, I am going to write about one of the prehistoric cultures that came after the Folsom People and the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY. Archaeologists named this culture Angostura. What was so different about Angostura that made it a different prehistoric culture from those Paleoindians who came before them? 
That is a good question. Let me take a shot at answering the question. One of the items that archaeologists find in almost every archaeological site are stone projectile points and stone tool assemblages. Depending on the amount of preservation of an archaeological site, the faunal bone remains and any evidence of plant use may already be deteriorated. Therefore, archaeologists must lean heavily on the evidence that still remains - projectile points types and stone tool assemblages - in an attempt to define the people and culture that inhabited a particular site. In most cases, the stone tool assemblages look very similar across several thousand years of Paleoindian occupation. What can be different between different Paleoindian cultures are the projectile point types or styles. Therefore, archaeologists tend to rely heavily and use stone projectile points as cultural markers and a means to differentiate between  Paleoindian cultures even when other factors are similar.   
Now, let me write about one of these prehistoric cultures called Angostura. 
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In 1946, archaeologists working on the Missouri Basin Project were investigating the upper Cheyenne River on the southern flank of the Black Hills in South Dakota. The pending construction of the Angostura Reservoir was threatening several potential archaeology sites and salvage archaeological dig candidates were being determined. In 1948, archaeologists focused on one of the  sites called the Ray Long Site. Archaeological evidence was discovered in a small gully tributary along Horsehead Creek. The archaeologists found a number of fire hearths and camp related stone tools between five and seven feet deep in the site. Associated with this prehistoric camp, the archaeologists identified a medium to large lanceolate-shaped projectile point with random to oblique parallel flaking. Eventually, archaeologists renamed this point type Angostura and archaeologists have used this projectile point type as a cultural marker ever since.
Figure Three - 5.6 inch long Angostura spear point made from obsidian
and surface recovered on private land in Hyde County, South Dakota.
Note similarity to Agate Basin point type. John Branney Collection.  

J.T. Hughes originally named the Angostura point type the Long point after the landowner of the Ray Long Site. You might imagine how a point type named Long might become problematic because of its descriptive nature. The would have had the same problem if they named the point type short, thin, large, narrow, or wide. In 1954, archaeologist Wheeler renamed the point Angostura to differentiate it from the descriptive name, Long.

At the time of discovery, the Ray Long Site was important for another reason, archaeologists found evidence of plant gathering and processing in a 9,000 year old site.

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Angostura points are medium to large lanceolate-shaped points with random to parallel-oblique flaking. The blade edges are straight to slightly convex. The stem on the points contracts, sometimes quite dramatically. Basal thinning is with short flakes and usually the base is concave.

Angostura continued the Paleoindian tradition of polishing or grinding the basal edges where the projectile point was hafted.    

Figure Five - Angostura points from private land in Colorado, Wyoming
and Nebraska. Note the oblique-flaking on most. The longest
point is four inches long. John Branney Collection.

The Angostura point type chronologically and morphologically overlaps with three other projectile point types: Frederick, Lusk, and Jimmy Allen. In fact, some scholars have proposed lumping all four types into a single category called oblique-flaked Plano points, foregoing the use of the specific point type name (Cassells 1986). Other scholars believe that the Angostura point type is not necessary at all and that it fits nicely within another point type, Agate Basin. In my opinion, Angostura is an evolution and variation of the Agate Basin point type. 

Personally, I do not see the need for both Agate Basin and Angostura point types, but I need to explain my politics, first. In the world of projectile point typology, there are two political parties, the Lumpers and the Splitters. Lumpers attempt to combine as many projectile point types as possible under the guidance that they are variations on the same theme. Splitters want to identify the variations as separate projectile point types. I happen to be in the Lumper political party, so of course I would want to see one point type between Agate Basin and Angostura.     

What is your opinion?   




Thursday, May 26, 2016

SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL and the Oligocene

Madd Maxx always ready for an adventure. 
I am sorry it has been so long since my last new blog posting. No excuse, but I have been busy with everything going on in my life. I am volunteering at the fire department and also trying to publish my seventh book, writing my eighth book, and we just got a new puppy. The new puppy may be the most stressful.

Oligocene aged White River Formation in the middle of the frame.
This sandstone was deposited as a meandering river millions of years ago.
However, Madd Maxx and I had a little adventure this week and made it out to my Shadows on the Trail prehistoric campsite this week. You know, the site where I found the prehistoric artifact that was the inspiration for the Shadows on the Trail Trilogy. What? You have not read the Shadows on the Trail Trilogy?  Why not?
Click to Order Shadows on the Trail

Madd Maxx and I did not find many artifacts on our little adventure, but we had a good time, nevertheless. However, we did find some fossils in the White River Formation. You might be asking what is the White River Formation?
Crossbedding in the sandstone rock of the White River Formation.
Crossbeds indicative of meandering or braided stream system.

The White River Formation is the oldest geologic formation on the ground at the Shadows on the Trail prehistoric campsite. Rivers, lakes, and wind laid down the White River Formation in the Oligocene geologic period, sometime between thirty eight million to twenty five million years ago. During the Oligocene period on the High Plains, the climate was drier and cooler than the previous geologic period, the Eocene. Oak, beach, maple, and ash trees replaced subtropical plants. Volcanoes continued to be active laying down volcanic ash across the
The animals of the High Plains Oligocene.
high plains. Rhinoceros, camels, large pig-like titanotheres, sheep-like oreodonts, and tortoises replaced extinct fauna from the previous geologic period. Modern mammal families began appearing with various cats, dogs, weasels, raccoons, beavers, pocket mice, and jumping mice. The forests around rivers and lakes supported three-toed horses (Mesohippus), tapirs, insectivores, and rodents.

As the Oligocene period continued, the first sabre-tooth cats appeared and artiodactyls dominated. Only a single family of primates existed, but it would still be millions of years before humans appeared. As the Oligocene continued to heat up, warmer climate species appeared. Investigators have found the fossils remains of a crocodilian specimen as far north as South Dakota.

Another day, another adventure. See you next time. Hopefully, in the not so distant future!  
Fossil from a mammal of the Oligocene.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Figure Two. Small grouping of Lovell or Fishtail knife forms and projectile
points surface found on private land in Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana.
John Branney Collection.

The seed for my prehistoric adventure trilogy called SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL sprouted on an early summer morning in 2010 on a northern Colorado ranch when I found a ten thousand year old stone tool made from a red and gray striped rock from a prehistoric rock quarry in Texas. As I stared down at this prehistoric tool made by one of the First Americans, several questions raced through my mind. How did this stone tool end up in a prehistoric campsite in northern Colorado, five hundred miles to the north of the prehistoric rock quarry? Who made it? What was he or she like? What happened on its journey from Texas to northern Colorado? Since it was impossible for me to ask the prehistoric person who made the stone tool, I wrote my own version of the Folsom People and their ten thousand seven hundred year old journey. For more about that journey, you're just going to have to read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY.      

Who came after the Folsom People and the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY? Below, is the story about one group of people who followed.     

During the late 1960s, the Mummy Cave archaeological site along the North Fork of the Shoshone River in northwest Wyoming yielded a stratified, radiocarbon-dated Late Paleoindian sequence from 9,200 to 8,000 years old (BP). However, none of the projectile point types found at the Mummy Cave archaeological site resembled the projectile points from the same age of strata at the Horner Site (Cody Complex assemblage) on the plains of the Big Horn Basin.

Figure One. 1.5 inch long Lovell or Fishtail dart point from
northern Colorado. John Branney Collection.


Based on these projectile point type differences between Mummy Cave and the Horner Site, the investigators concluded that there were two separate Paleoindian cultures living concurrently in two separate environments. While prehistoric occupants at the Horner Site preferred sites on the open plains, the prehistoric occupants at the Mummy Cave Site  preferred rock shelters and caves in the foothills and mountains.  

Prior to the Mummy Cave archaeological investigation, an archaeologist named Husted had already named two of the projectile point types that were later found at Mummy Cave. Archaeologist Husted named the Lovell Constricted and Pryor Stemmed projectile point types for projectile point examples his team found in caves and rockshelters in the Big Horn Canyon of Montana and Wyoming. 

At both Sorenson Rockshelter and Bottleneck Cave in the Big Horn Canyon, archaeologist Husted found Lovell Constricted or Fishtail projectile points stratigraphically below Pryor Stemmed projectile points. The stratigraphic layers that contained Lovell points yielded a radiocarbon date of 8,000 years old (BP) or slightly older.

Husted described Lovell or Fishtail points as medium to large lanceolate points with concave bases and a definite constriction on the lateral edges just above the distal end. Flaking ranged from fine parallel oblique to random. Edge grinding was present on the stems of the points.          

Figure Three. 1.3 inch long Lovell or Fishtail dart point
fond in central  Colorado in early 1900s by Louis Brunke.
John Branney Collection.   
Those of you who know High Plains projectile point typology, might say after studying the photographs, “Hey, those look like Duncan or Hanna projectile points from the McKean Complex”, and I am not going to argue with you. Lovell projectile points do resemble McKean Complex projectile points. My rule of thumb? If the projectile point in question has parallel oblique flaking and edge grinding, it is most likely a Lovell or Fishtail. When the flaking on the projectile point is random, identification becomes trickier.

In the case of random flaking, the big difference becomes edge grinding. I have never found a seen a Duncan or Hanna projectile point from a known McKean Complex site that has edge grinding. In general, Lovell or Fishtail projectile points tend to be made with more care than McKean projectile points.

Read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY and learn about the Foothill-Mountain Complex's ancestors.



Friday, February 19, 2016

G is for Goshen-Plainview, W is for WINDS OF EDEN

Figure One. 4.7 inch long Plainview spear / knife form from the Goshen - Plainview Complex. It was a surface find from Yuma County, Colorado in the 1930s. The Goshen - Plainview Complex ran from approximately
11,000 to 8,000 years old. Ex. Perry Anderson and Virgil Russell. John Branney Collection.

G is for Goshen-Plainview Complex. A 4.7 inch long Plainview spear / knife form from the Goshen - Plainview Complex. The material for this point is a tan orthoquartzite material from the Cloverly geologic formation in Wyoming. It was a surface find in Yuma County, Colorado. John Branney Collection.

Many experts believe that Goshen and Plainview projectile points are typologically and technologically the same points. However, the large time gap between the use of Goshen points on    
Figure Three. The third book in the Trilogy,
the northern plains (11,000 years ago) and the later use of Plainview points on the southern plains (10,000 years ago) has not been adequately explained. If the time gap was due to the dispersion of Goshen projectile point technology from the north to the south, why did it take approximately one thousand years to travel several hundred miles from the northern plains to the southern plains? Why have we not seen a similar time gap from north to south with Clovis and Folsom?

If you have read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL Trilogy you know that the book series is about the Folsom People, who overlapped in time and space with the Goshen People on the northern plains. Clovis People preceded the Folsom People, but may have had some time and space overlap with Goshen People.

Although there has been considerable progress made in better understanding point type chronology and stratigraphic relationships between Clovis, Folsom, and Goshen, we still lack the evidence of the cultural or social relationships between these three groups. There are many examples of archaeological sites where the prehistoric inhabitants used a single projectile point type, providing evidence that projectile point type was one basis for defining a specific social group. When investigators find two or three projectile point types at the same site with similar or overlapping radiocarbon dates, it creates questions. Did the same social group use different projectile point type technology at the same site or did different social groups use the same site at similar time frames? We may never know the answer.
Figure Three. 3,000 years of High Plains projectile point evolution. From left to right Clovis, Goshen,
Folsom, and Midland. Ages range from approximately 13,000 years old to 10,000 years old. 
For scale, the Clovis on the left is 2.2 inches long. John Branney Collection.
Surface artifact hunters are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to identifying Plainview and Goshen artifacts. Without knowing the archaeological or stratigraphic context of the artifact, it is very possible to misidentify the point type. There are numerous point type examples of lanceolate shaped points with concave bases, edge grinding, and basal thinning or fluting. These point types spanned a timeframe of over 3,000 years on the High Plains (Frison 1991: 24f). Clovis and Folsom are readily identifiable from Goshen and Plainview, but types such as Allen and Midland are not.

If you can't get out in the field to look for artifacts and revisit our prehistory, do the next best thing - read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL Trilogy and get your prehistoric fix, quickly and effectively. Available at Amazon,com.

Figure Four. The first book in the Trilogy, SHADOWS ON

Monday, February 15, 2016


Figure One. Side A of a 2.8 inch long Hekifinowatitis prehistoric knife form found
in 1905 in Natrona County, Wyoming by George Cobban. John Branney Collection.  
I wonder what Paleoindians would think about us 'modern people' spending so much time discussing, describing, identifying, naming, and classifying their prehistoric tools, specifically stone projectile points? In my opinion, we have gone way overboard trying to classify and cubby hole each and every projectile point into a specific projectile point type. And when we can not cubby hole a particular projectile point into an existing type, someone attempts to create a new projectile point type. But, what if that prehistoric flintknapper who created that oddball projectile point was just having a bad flint knapping day? Or maybe just decided to create something different for a change? Or maybe, just maybe, he or she was just not as skilled as the other flintknappers in his or her culture. Besides, the main purpose for the projectile point was dispatching an animal and there is a wide variation in projectile point types that have proven to do the trick! 
Figure Two. WINDS OF EDEN, the third book in the SHADOWS

As a prehistoric artifact hunter, I have to admit I am probably the worst offender at wanting each projectile point identified, categorized, and cataloged properly. However, after finding and collecting thousands of projectile points, I have found that it is not so easy to categorized every projectile point. 

Below in blue is a brief outtake from my prehistoric novel entitled WINDS OF EDEN where an elder is teaching children the art of flintknapping on one of the most difficult projectile points to create and duplicate, a Folsom point. We wonder why there is variation in projectile point types, this is one reason why.            


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



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 t├íku 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.
Figure Three. Click to Order.  


What could we expect to see after the children are through? Some of their projectile points may look like Folsom points and some of them may not. If we found these children's points ten thousand years later, we might say they were Folsom points or we might try to define them as other projectile point types or we might say they were a new type. 

In my prehistoric artifact collection, I have many artifacts that are not easily classified, so I decided to create a new type called Hekifinowatitis. Figures one and four are photographs of a Hekifinowatitis knife form found in the year 1905 south of Casper, Wyoming by a man named George Cobban. This is not the first artifact I have run across from Mr. Cobban's early collection. He seemed to be an active artifact hunter on the high plains in the early 1900s.

This Hekifinowatitis knife form measures 71 mm long (2.8 inches long), 37.5 mm wide, and 6 mm thick for a width to thickness ratio of 6.3, falling below the arbitrary ratio of 7 or greater for ultrathin knife forms. This artifact’s flintknapper used uncommon Hartville Uplift pretty-in-pink dendritic jasper.

Figure Four. Side B of the Hekifinowatitis knife form found in 1905
in Natrona County, Wyoming. John Branney Collection.  

Some people have claimed that this knife form came from the Allen prehistoric culture, after the artifacts found at the Allen site, south of Laramie, Wyoming, but I am gonna stick to the Hek-if-i-no-wat-it-is type. For me, this is the most appropriate call. The knife form exhibits phenomenal workmanship and fine marginal retouch. The flaking patterns exhibit Paleoindian influences. If I had to guess, which I am doing, I would say that a Paleoindian made this sometime between eleven and eight thousand years ago.

Monday, February 1, 2016

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

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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.     
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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!