|Figure One - Obsidian ovate biface probably made by |
Paleoindians, most likely from the Clovis Complex.
Found on private land in Oregon in the 1960s.
John Branney Collection.
One of the main themes in my book SHADOWS on the TRAIL was that climate change was happening around 10,700 years ago (the climate is ALWAYS changing). The change in conditions forced the Folsom People to abandon the canyon home where they had lived for close to a generation. SHADOWS on the TRAIL was the journey by the Folsom People to a place called the North Country. It was their intent to find a place where animals roamed and they could live in peace.
|Figure Two - 4.1 inch long discoidal biface made from |
Texas Alibates Chert and surface found on private land
in Northern Colorado. It is of Paleoindian origin, mostly
likely Folsom. John Branney Collection.
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.
In SHADOWS on the TRAIL, Chayton was preparing for a rainy day by securing raw material for making stone tools on the way to the North Country. Based on archaeological evidence, this was a common tactic. There are numerous examples of prehistoric people hording or caching non-localized raw material for stone tools. Since many of these prehistoric people lived a nomadic existence, they could not afford to get to a region and not find raw material for making stone tools. They solved the problem by carrying 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 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 as one example). 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 had no clear base or tip. They served Clovis People as flake cores or knife preforms. If the Clovis knapper decided to use the ovate biface as a knife, he sharpened the edges, as needed. If the Clovis knapper needed the ovate biface for flake tools, flakes 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.
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.
|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 created a spear or knife preform (third from left). After more time passed, this preform 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. I imagine that the process from left to right in Figure six may have taken anywhere from a few weeks to a year or so. Who knows?