|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 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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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.
“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.
“Tóka he? – What is wrong?” the old man asked, a whimsical smile on his face.
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.
|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 transition period between fluted Folsom and Midland 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.
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Bruce Bradley (2010: 475) had one of the better definitions of Midland. 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 along the edges and base, but for the most part the overall 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.
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 strongly 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 period of time. There is no reason for me to believe that prehistoric 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.
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