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 plus) and the later use of Plainview points on the southern plains (around 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 Quadrilogy 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 time and space overlap with the 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 more questions than answers. 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 visit our prehistoric past, do the next best thing - read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL Quadrilogy 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

W is for WINDS OF EDEN or H is for HekIfINoWatItIs!

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 too far overboard in 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, we just name a new projectile point type. But, what if that prehistoric flintknapper who created that oddball projectile point was just having a bad flint day? Or maybe he or she 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 of a projectile point was for killing game.  
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 easy to categorize and type every projectile point. There are lots of "tweeners"  

Below in blue is a brief outtake from my prehistoric novel entitled WINDS OF EDEN where an elder is teaching young children the art of flintknapping on one of the most difficult projectile point types, a Folsom point. We wonder why there is variation in projectile point types, this may be 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 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 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 completed their "Folsom projectile points"? A few of the points might actually  resemble Folsom points while a few others might not. If we found these children's points ten thousand years later, we might call them Folsom points or another projectile point or even a HekIfINoWatItIs point. 

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.