Monday, January 23, 2017

SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL and the Clovis Ovate Biface

Figure One - Obsidian ovate biface probably made by
Paleoindians, most likely from the Clovis Complex.
Found on private land in Oregon in the 1960s. 
One of the most controversial topics in today's world is climate change, but changing climates have been around literally forever. You just have to review Planet Earth's geologic past and fossil record to find example after example of climate change. Climate change has been the rule, not the exception, in our Earth's history.  

One of my main themes in the book SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL was the climate change that took place over ten thousand years ago at the tail end of the last Ice Age. A changing climate forced my main characters, the Folsom People, to abandon the canyon where they had lived for close to a generation. SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL was about the Folsom People's journey to a place called the North Country. It was their intent to escape rising temperatures, starvation, and intolerable drought conditions. 


Figure Two - 4.1 inch long discoidal biface made from
Texas Alibates Chert and found in Northern Colorado.
Of Paleoindian origin, mostly likely Folsom Complex.   
Below is an excerpt from my book SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL. In this passage, our hero Chayton is preparing to leave the canyon with his tribe, some 10,700 years ago. Since Chayton and the Folsom People really did not know what to expect on the journey, he visited a prehistoric quarry to find raw material for making stone tools during the journey. Chayton could not be sure if they would find good raw material on the journey so being prudent, he decided to carry some of his own raw material.           


As one of the young men of the tribe, the elders selected Chayton to be one of the three forward scouts on the journey. He began his preparation by going to the rock quarries and digging for the sacred red and white rock for making his weapons and tools. He could not rely on finding rock on the journey and the inyan wakan, the word the tribe used for the sacred rock, was plentiful in the canyon. He walked deep into the canyon and found a pile of rubble where other humans had dug a huge hole in search of inyan wakan. Chayton was not going to dig in the sweltering heat of the canyon, so he scraped through the rubble pile and found several large pieces of inyan wakan. He took a large round river pebble from his pouch and struck each large piece of inyan wakan until they broke into several sharp pieces. When he found a piece of rock he liked, he then used a hammer made from an elk antler to shape the piece into a flat disc-shaped rock, larger than his open hand. He continued his search until he had five disc-shaped rocks made from the sacred rock. Chayton would take these rocks on the journey and use them to make knife blades, tools and spear points.


After putting the five pieces of inyan wakan in his pouch, Chayton walked deeper into the canyon where underground springs had always fed the creek.

Chayton and the Folsom People were not the first Americans to actually create rock to carry on their journeys. Below, is an example of the same thing from the Clovis prehistoric culture.   
Figure Three - The Paleoindian Book - SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL.  

In SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL, you just might say that Chayton was preparing for a rainy day by securing raw material to make stone tools on the way to the North Country. This was not unusual, based on archaeological evidence. There are numerous documented examples of prehistoric people hording or caching non-local raw material for stone tools. Since most of these prehistoric people had a  nomadic existence, they could not afford to get to a region and not be able to find raw material for making their stone tools. So, they solved the problem by carried some raw material with them. 
One of the earliest examples of this hording and caching of raw material came from the Clovis People, those hardy prehistoric individuals who archaeologists for decades thought were the First Americans. The Clovis People carried preforms with them to new areas. Preforms were not stone tools as such, but were resources of raw material which could be transformed into a desired tool or implement on the spot. One of these preforms, that I suspect came from the Clovis People, is in Figures One and Four. Archaeologists call this particular type of preform an ovate biface. In the upcoming paragraphs, I plan on borrowing freely from a tremendous book by Michael R. Waters and Thomas A. Jennings entitled The Hogeye Clovis Cache, published in 2015 by Texas A & M.  
Figure Four - 6.3 inch long ovate biface of probable Clovis
Complex origin. Found on private land in the 1960s in Oregon.  

Why do I believe that this particular preform in Figures One and Four originated from the Clovis People? First, this type of biface has a well documented association with the Clovis prehistoric culture (Hogeye Clovis Cache for a start). Some people refer to this artifact as a 'Clovis platter', but morphologically I believe it is best described as an ovate biface, distinguished by its oval shape and knapped on both faces. Ovate bifaces have no clear base or tip. They may have served Clovis People as flake cores or knife preforms. If the Clovis knapper decided to use the ovate biface as a knife preform, he would sharpen the edges, as needed. If the Clovis knapper needed the ovate biface for making flake tools, additional blanks could be removed from the mother rock. Regardless of their ultimate use, ovate bifaces were preforms for projectile points and / or a source of raw material for additional flake tools.

I draw your attention to Figure Four, again. Note the wide, long and shallow flakes running across the face of this prehistoric artifact. This is another Clovis trait. Ovate bifaces were thinned by overshot and overface flaking using both alternate-opposed and serial flaking (Figure Five).
Figure Five

In the Figure Four example, I believe the Clovis knapper used the alternate-opposed flaking method, a sequential method whereby the repeated removal of an overshot or overface flake from one edge is followed by a similar removal from the opposite edge on the same face. This was a common flaking practice within the Clovis prehistoric culture. 

In Figure Six, I am demonstrating the bifacial reduction or lifecycle of an ovate biface from left to right. Please disregard the different materials of the four artifacts and assume the material is the same rock and the lifecycle of the ovate biface on the left ultimately ends up as the spear point to the right. Here is what I mean; 

Figure Six - Bifacial reduction from left to right, from the original 6.3 inch long ovate biface on the left to
a Clovis spear point on the right.

Our Clovis knapper originally created the ovate biface on the left, perhaps at the prehistoric rock quarry. As time went on, the knapper whittled away at the ovate biface as he needed raw material for stone tools, reducing the overall size of the ovate biface (second from left). At some stage, the Clovis knapper decided to create either a spear or knife preform (third from left). This ultimately ended up as a knife or a spear point (far right). Even the original knife or spear point was reduced in size through resharpening to the point where it was either lost, broken, or retired. The process going from left to right could have taken a few weeks or perhaps a year or so, depending on a number of factors. Who knows?  

So, now it is time for you to read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY for the rest of the story. Available at and other fine booksellers.


Friday, January 6, 2017

SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL and a Look At Kennewick Man.

Figure One - 4.1 inch long discoidal biface or core stone which was
the inspiration for the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY.   
One of my goals when I wrote the prehistoric adventure book series entitled the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY was to squash out the myth that Paleoindians in North America were not intelligent, that they were one evolutionary step away from cavemen and chimpanzees. North American Paleoindians had the same intelligence level and foresight as we do. They did not have the same situational learning experiences as us, but then again, we do not have the same learning experiences as them, specifically, how to survive in a hostile ten thousand year old world. 

I often claim that there are few modern-day people who could survive in North America ten thousand years ago and I believe that.  What would most of us do without our homes or doctors or smart phones or cars or television or grocery stores or fast food restaurants or
Figure Two - GHOSTS OF THE HEART, the second book in the
policemen or modern weapons?

How tough were these Paleoindians? Archaeological evidence can demonstrate this,  but first, I am enclosing an excerpt from the second book of the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY, that shows what one Paleoindian named Kangi was confronted with. How would  you deal with this situation?   

……….Squatting alongside the game trail was a grizzly bear cub, about the size of a small wolf dog. With his heart racing in his chest, Kangi glanced across the meadow, looking for the location of the mother. Instead he spotted another grizzly bear cub running straight towards him, making woofing and snorting sounds.   

Then the bear cub that was squatted on the game trail finally noticed Kangi and it rolled over onto its feet and immediately began bawling loudly. Kangi turned around quickly towards the tunnel, hoping to make a quick escape, but he ran right into the first hunter coming out.

A-ah! – Watch out!” Kangi screamed. “Mato! - Bear!”

The hunter appeared confused when Kangi shoved him back into the pine branch tunnel.

HOPPO! – LET US GO!” Kangi yelled, shoving the hunter into the tunnel.  

Coming to her cub’s rescue, the grizzly bear sow lunged through the water of the mountain stream, leaving a massive wake behind her. She was across the stream in two lunges and barreled across the meadow at full speed. With her head held low, she grunted loudly as her thick body shimmered and swayed. She closed the gap to Kangi with astonishing speed.

Kangi shoved the hunter into the deceptive safety of the tunnel, but there was still no room for him. Kangi turned to face the grizzly bear sow instead. He placed the butt of a spear into his spear thrower and raised the spear above his shoulder. He reared back his arm and with his entire body, he launched the spear at the charging bear. The spear left the spear thrower with tremendous speed, its trajectory heading straight at the massive grizzly bear sow’s skull. By the time the spear arrived at the grizzly bear sow, she had traveled much closer to Kangi. The spear flew harmlessly over her back, ricocheting off the rocks of the mountain stream. Kangi was just notching another spear when the humongous grizzly bear slammed into him, knocking him a good distance across the meadow where he landed hard on his stomach. With the wind knocked out of him, Kangi attempted to crawl away, but before he got very far, the grizzly bear landed on top of him with her front paws.  

MATO! MATO!” the hunters screamed at each other in the tunnel, pushing and shoving each other back down the game trail. Chayton held his ground until the frightened hunters, heading in the opposite direction, plowed right over him.       

The grizzly bear sow pounced up and down on top of Kangi’s back, driving him into the soil of the meadow………..

Figure Three - The proposed orientation of the burial of Kennewick Man
along the Columbia River in Washington.  
What happened to Kangi? Well, you will have to read GHOSTS OF THE HEART to find out, but I hope you understand the point I was attempting to make. Living in Prehistoric America was not for the weak or timid.   

How rough was life in North America thousands of years ago? For that answer, let's look at  archaeological evidence. Some of the best archaeological evidence we have comes from prehistoric skeletons which are rare, especially skeletons from our First Americans or Paleoindians.

One of the more famous and controversial prehistoric skeletons ever found was named Kennewick Man. Some of the more renowned forensic scientists in the country  studied the prehistoric skeleton of Kennewick Man. Authors Douglas W. Owsley and Richard J. Lantz documented the controversial history of this skeleton and their findings in an excellent book entitled KENNEWICK MAN The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton. I took my information below from this groundbreaking book.   

Let me introduce you to nine thousand year old Kennewick Man through his facial reconstruction in Figure Four. He came later than the Folsom
Figure Four - Forensic reconstruction
of Kennewick Man's face.  
People in my SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY by about seventeen hundred years, but as an early hunter and gatherer, he had the same lifestyle as the Folsom People.

Two college students discovered Kennewick Man's skull in 1996 along the banks of the Columbia River in Washington. Scientists believe he was between 35 to 39 years old at the time of his death. They estimated that he was 5’7” or 5’8” tall and weighed around 162 lbs.

Thirty-five years old is young in the context of modern-day life expectancies, but by this time in his relative young life, Kennewick Man had already experienced some very traumatic health issues. The scientists determined that he had several healed depression wounds on his skull and he may have been hard of hearing. Kennewick Man was right handed and there were indications that his arms had gone through strenuous use.  

Figure Five - Throwing a spear dozens of times per day,
using an atlatl, would damage anyone's shoulder.  
The scientists found that while Kennewick Man’s left shoulder had normal morphology, his right shoulder or his throwing shoulder exhibited degenerative wear and tear, arthritis, possible cartilage erosion, and a rim fracture of his right scapula. Since Kennewick Man’s survival depended on throwing spears at fleeing animals, we should expect some shoulder wear and tear, just as we would expect it from a major league baseball pitcher or a NFL quarterback.

Figure Six - Kennewick Man's teeth
were wore down to a nub. 
In addition, Kennewick Man’s upper arms showed humeri asymmetrical in both size and shape. The scientists determined that Kennewick Man had atrophy of his left humerus with right side bowing. The scientists postulated that a left arm fracture in his early life caused the condition. Of course, 'Kennewick Boy' did not have a doctor to go to for his arm fracture.   

 Kennewick Man’s teeth were not in any better shape. He was missing a molar and he had pronounced teeth wear. Molar attrition suggested that he ate food contaminated with fine abrasives and courser particles, such as sand. His tooth wear suggested he used his teeth for more than just chewing food. It appears that Kennewick Man used his teeth in task-oriented activities, such as hide preparation and cutting. 

What about his chest? Kennewick Man had healed fractures in at least five ribs on his right side with a failure of those ribs to reunite. He also received a possible left rib fracture at the same time the right rib fractures occurred. The scientists found no indication of infection or significant blood supply issue associated with the ribs. They postulated that this was another young adult injury. Perhaps, Kennewick Man had a collision with a three-thousand pound Bison antiquus?
Figure Seven - I just broke my ribs, so I know how Kennewick
Man felt. The difference was his fight for survival continued.   

Kennewick Man also had bad knees. He had osteochondritis in his knees caused from damage of the meniscus, which then eroded cartilage and eventually went bone on bone. The scientists could tell that he lived with inflammation of the cartilage or bone in the knee. In real cases, bone under the knee cartilage can die due to lack of blood flow and then bone and cartilage can then break loose, causing pain. This type of injury comes from the habitual loading of a tightly flexed knee.  

Then, there was the pièce de résistance of injuries. Kennewick Man had a stone projectile point imbedded in his right posterior ilium. The stone projectile had been in his hipbone long enough for bone to grow over it. Scientists speculate that the possible symptoms for this injury could have included pus drainage for the rest of his life. He might have had a moderate degree of pain, all of the time. He might have had anorexia, sleeplessness, derangement of secretions, great irritability and despondency. An analysis of his leg bones indicated that Kennewick Man had no lasting / significant mobility loss from this injury. The scientists believe that this injury occurred in Kennewick Man’s teen or young adult years. 
Figure Eight - Not many people can brag they
have a stone spear point in their hip. Ouch!

So, you think you are tough enough to be  a Paleoindian, one of our First Americans? Not me. These people had a real tough existence. They could not dial 911 when they needed help or go to the doctor if they did not feel well or call a cop if they got into a bind. They were on their own, for better or for worse. So, next time we are feeling sorry for ourselves, think about Kennewick Man and what he had to endure. Amazing, all of a sudden, I feel a whole lot better about my aches and pains. ;).

So, now your next assignment is to read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY to see how accurately I painted a picture of life 10,700 years ago. Then, let me know what YOU think!    

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Figure one - A size comparison between a modern bison and Bison antiquus, the bison species that Chayton, Hoka, and
the other Folsom People had to deal with 10,700 years ago in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY.   

I wrote my prehistoric book thriller the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY based on my knowledge and research in archaeology, hunting, and animal/human behavior. I have spent lots of time out in the field doing my research – finding prehistoric artifacts, watching and recording animal behavior and creating scenarios, such as the one below, taken from the second book of the trilogy, GHOSTS OF THE HEART. In this scenario, hunters from the Folsom People are attempting to trap and kill a herd of bison without the dangerous beasts killing or maiming any hunters. I am sure that was quite a trick. I will now join you on the other side of the GHOSTS OF THE HEART segment.       
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 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 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, confused by the spears and the smoke.

A rain of spears fell on the herd from three sides of the arroyo. Spears stuck in the hides of the cows and calves as the herd panicked and attempted to climb the steep walls of the arroyo. Without a leader, the herd muddled about while more spears poured down on them from above. Finally, one of the cows ran back down the arroyo towards the entrance and the rest of the herd followed…

Dangerous business, don’t you agree? A prehistoric hunter severely injured by a bison was almost worse off than if he died. Depending on the severity of the injury, there may have been little for the tribe to do. We assume from analyses of injuries on prehistoric skeletons that medical care was quite limited. In addition, the tribe had to care and feed injured hunters, drawing on the limited resources of the tribe. Recovery from serious injuries such as broken bones takes a long time.

I had a first-hand experience of what this might have been like on December 3, 2016. My faithful dog Madd Maxx and I were doing some artifact hunting on the original Shadows on the Trail prehistoric site when a herd of wild, horned cows decided they did not like Madd Maxx and attacked him. I intervened on my German Shepherd's behalf. One particular demon cow gored me and ended up running over me on three separate occasions. On one of those run overs, I played dead by lying on my stomach with my arms shielding my head. This horned beast held me to the ground with its massive head in the middle of my back while it pummeled my legs and ankles with its hooves. I was sure I was going to die on that prairie. Somehow, both Madd Maxx and I survived this freak disaster.

I finally made it to the ranch house where they immediately called for help. I was a long way off the beaten path. Eventually, I was transported via Flight for Life to one of the better trauma centers in Colorado. I ended up with three broken ribs, a bruised lung and liver, a hemorrhaging adrenal gland, and contusions and severe bruises across the lower half of my body. Thanks to my wife Theresa and the ranch foreman, Madd Maxx ended up in an animal emergency room for treatment of cuts and bruises, but no broken bones.   

I received first-hand experience of the dangers of large prey animals, even if they were “domesticated cattle”. Would I have survived these injuries ten thousand years ago without Flight for Life or excellent care at a leading trauma center? I don't know. Maybe, but I would have become a burden to the tribe. In looking back at my recent accident, I think I did a pretty good job portraying the difficult and dangerous life of the Folsom People in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY. Read it and see if you agree.

I look forward to ultimately recovering from my injuries from the December 3, 2016 mad cow incident, but I will also want to capture the drama and emotion of this traumatic experience in one of my future books.        

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY - No Snowflakes in this Ice Age Tale

Figure One - prehistoric human stalking a bison.
I am reading in the media about all the snowflakes in our population who are melting down because of the U.S. presidential election and I cannot believe it. These people are requiring safe zones, aroma therapy, pet therapy, hot cocoa, and school test delays. They are protesting and based on media interviews, some of the protesters aren't quite sure why they are protesting. Crazy world. When did the human race get so much spare time and leisure time that we don't have to work for our bread? 

When I think about these snowflakes in our population, they remind me of my characters in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY, not that there is any resemblance between the snowflakes and the tough characters in my books. Ten thousand plus years ago when the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY took place, prehistoric humans did not have the luxury or time to think about anything that did not have to do with surviving another day. Weakness did not survive in human or beast. After all, in the late Pleistocene, there were large mammals attempting to use my characters as a food supply and my characters were in a daily struggle just to find enough food to survive. In addition, my characters had to worry about the hostile bands of humans roaming the countryside. There were no policemen or hospitals or dialing 911 for my characters. They were on their own without the hot cocoa or aroma therapy. The only thing between my characters and death was a well placed stone spear point.  

Below is a passage from the second book in the trilogy entitled GHOSTS OF THE HEART.  In this particular passage, some very bad people just attacked our hero Chayton and wounded him in the shoulder with a stone projectile point from a spear. Since these bad people wanted to kill him and his friend Wiyaka, Chayton did not have time for a 'woe is poor me' or to reflect on anything except the life-or-death predicament they were in.  Chayton was critically wounded and the bad people had NOT given up the chase. Here is what happened when Chayton and Wiyaka finally got a break from running away.   

Before the sunset in the west, Chayton and Wiyaka made it out of the mountains and onto the foothills. Wiyaka found a safe place for them to camp near a small spring-fed pond. Chayton collapsed on the ground, sick and exhausted. Wiyaka went to the pond and filled up their water pouches. When he returned, Wiyaka woke Chayton up, telling him, “Sit up! I want to look at your shoulder.”

Wiyaka knelt down behind Chayton and said, “It is getting dark, turn your back to the sun.”

“Where is Namid?” Chayton asked.

Slol wa yea shnee, – I do not know.”


Slol wa yea shnee, – I do not know.” 

Chayton slowly twisted his body, letting the rays of the setting sun reach his wounded shoulder. Chayton’s hide shirt was stuck to the wound with dried blood. When Wiyaka peeled the shirt away, the air exploded with hundreds of flies escaping from the festering wound. Wiyaka swatted at the dense cloud of flies, but they were not going to give up their feast easily. Wiyaka leaned closer, attempting to block the flight of the flies while he examined the wound. Wiyaka took a whiff and quickly turned his nose away. The smell of rotting flesh overcame his senses. Holding his breath, Wiyaka steadied his stomach and inspected the wound. Blood was still trickling down Chayton’s back and a whitish-yellow mass covered the wound. When Wiyaka stuck his face even closer to inspect the whitish-yellow mass, he caught another whiff of the rancid smell and turned his head away. Wiyaka’s eyes watered from the strong stench and his stomach began to heave. He held his breath once again and inspected the wound. This was too much for Wiyaka and he turned his head to the side, vomiting the contents of his almost empty stomach on the ground. When he had purged his stomach of everything in it and more, Wiyaka again tried to inspect the whitish-yellow glob that completely enveloped the wound and the surrounding area. He found that it consisted of fly eggs and when he looked closer, he saw that many of the eggs had already hatched and white maggots had taken over.

Waglulas, – Maggots,” Wiyaka declared. “Ayabeya. – Everywhere.”   

I yo monk pi sni, - I feel bad,” Chayton murmured.

“Your wound is bad, kola, - friend,” Wiyaka agreed.

“The River People?” Chayton mumbled. “Where are they?”

Wiyaka, his hand unsteady from nervous energy, extracted a very thin, oval-shaped stone knife from his satchel. He thumbed the edge of the knife’s blade, testing its sharpness. Then he told Chayton, “This is going to hurt, but I do not know what else to do.”

“What are you doing?” Chayton asked, his head drooping from one side to the other.

“I must rid you of the waglulas - maggots,” Wiyaka replied. “They will bring you death.”  

“Namid…,” Chayton murmured.

Wiyaka grabbed the top of Chayton’s other shoulder with his hand and then with the stone knife in his other hand, he shaved and sawed the dried blood and fly eggs from the wound area. Chayton screamed in pain as the honed edge of the knife cut into the tender nerves surrounding the wound. Wiyaka then poured water on the wound, giving Chayton time to scream out in pain. Then with the sharp stone blade, Wiyaka scraped at the wound some more. Wiyaka did this several more times until he was able to remove most of the coagulated blood, fly eggs, and maggots.  The wound hole in Chayton’s shoulder quickly filled with blood when Wiyaka reopened the wound with the knife. He needed to flush the wound to make sure the poison from the fly eggs and maggots were gone. Wiyaka hoped that he was not too late.

Ah snee was keyn ktay, - I am going to rest,” Chayton murmured, falling over on his good side.

Oh lou lout ah! – It is very hot!”

Ai, – Yes, you rest,” Wiyaka replied, rising to his feet.

Wiyaka gathered dry wood and started a campfire. While the campfire heated up, Wiyaka collected a few green willow branches from along the shore of the pond. He stuck the ends of the green willow branches into the flames of the campfire, heating them up. 


By the way, the language spoken in the above dialogue is Lakota Sioux. I used both Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne Native American languages in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY, not because anyone knows what language the Folsom People spoke over ten thousand years ago, but I am pretty sure the language was NOT English. 
Nope, no snowflakes survived at the end of the Ice Age, that’s for sure. Read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY if you want to read about some really tough people. In my next blog posting I will give you an example of how really tough these prehistoric people were. Do you think you could survive?   

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Dumpster Tang Knife and the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL

Figure One - 2.7 inch long corner tang knife from Colorado

My prehistoric book series called the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY was inspired to me when I found a prehistoric artifact. The story below was inspired by an artifact as well, but I don't see a book series or trilogy coming out of it. ;).  
I dubbed the 2.7 inch long corner tang knife from Colorado in the photograph above the “Dumpster Tang Knife”. Here is the story behind the name.

This summer, I took this magnificent corner tang knife out of its frame and wrapped it carefully in bubble wrap. I placed the bubble wrap and artifact in the top drawer of my desk, where it would be safe. The next morning I was planning to take some pictures of the corner tang knife before I went to training for wildland firefighting. Morning came and I looked inside every drawer of the desk, but I could not locate the bubble wrapped corner tang knife. I decided that I would do a more complete search when I got back from my training. I loaded up the garbage to take to the dumpster and then headed to my training.

During the training, my thoughts never left the corner tang knife. I rushed home afterwards and scoured all of the spots the corner tang knife might be hid. My search came up empty. My wife Theresa had one of her girlfriends visiting so I asked Theresa if she had seen the bubble wrap in the top of the desk. “Oh,” she said, “I might have thrown that bubble wrap out.”

Figure Two - 2.7 inch long corner tang knife from Colorado
Panic set in. I had just taken the garbage to the dumpster a couple of miles away that morning. I got in my vehicle and raced to the dumpster. It was Saturday so the dumpster was full. I dug around in the summer heat and found what I thought was our garbage bags. I reloaded the garbage bags into my vehicle and drove them back to the house where I went through the garbage in our garage. I had a real fun time. I did not find the bubble wrap or the artifact. I took the molested garbage back to the dumpster and jumped in the metal container. I was going to make sure I had not missed any of our bags.  

After an hour or so search through the garbage in the dumpster, I went back to the house and sat down for lunch with Theresa and her guest, but I could not get my mind off that corner tang knife. It was one of my favorites. I excused myself from lunch, telling my wife and guest that I was going back to the dumpster. There, I dug through the garbage once again, looking for that artifact. I did not find the artifact, but lo and behold, I found the bubble wrap that had protected the artifact. “Oh no,” I exclaimed, “the artifact is loose in the garbage!”

By now, there was garbage strewn all over the dumpster. I had created garbage chaos in that dumpster. I needed a plan. There were two dumpsters sitting there, so I decided to move everyone else’s garbage to the other dumpster so all I had to look through was our garbage. After removing most of everyone else’s garbage, I was standing near the bottom of the dumpster, my feet planted in someone’s very used cat litter, Flies and other assorted garbage-feasting bugs swarmed my air space. My gag reflex had finally gone on hiatus. I methodically went through each bag of our garbage. Then, I found a bag that I had not seen before, that I had not inspected in the garage. I opened the bag and poured the garbage onto the cat litter on the bottom of the dumpster. Out popped the corner tang knife. I stared at it. I was not sure if it were real or just another artifact sitting in situ in cat litter. That is why I call this artifact the “Dumpster Tang Knife”.  

Now, back to SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL, click the link below to join the adventure.    

click for shadows on the trail

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