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Folsom Culture/Tradition (9000 BC - 8000 BC)

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  • Folsom Culture/Tradition (9000 BC - 8000 BC)

    THE FOLSOM CULTURE
    By Leslie S. Pfeiffer


    Figure 1. Type site Folsom point in situ.
    (Rights Reserved, Image Archives, Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

    Excavations at the Folsom site in Colfax County, New Mexico between 1926-1928 uncovered finely-made fluted points lodged between the ribs of a giant species of bison (Bison bison antiquus) that became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene approximately 10,300 years ago (Fig. 1). This ended a long and bitter debate among archaeologists and paleontologists about when humans first inhabited North America, proving to even the most skeptical scientists that man was here at least 10,000 years ago. We now know that the Clovis culture predated Folsom, and it is logical to assume that Folsom fluting technology evolved from Clovis fluting techniques. Sometime around 10,800 years ago the Folsom culture replaced the Clovis culture over most of the western United States. The climate became cooler and wetter, corresponding to a period known as the Younger Dryas. During this transitional time, modifications in weaponry were a response to increased specialization as bison became a major food source.


    Figure 2. Owl Cave in eastern Idaho.

    Folsom sites have been radiocarbon dated to as early as 10,900 BP (before present) at the Hell Gap site in Goshen County, Wyoming, and as late as 10,200 BP at the Hanson site, also in Wyoming. The Folsom Culture lasted approximately 700 years, and covered a broad geographic area that stretched from Owl Cave (Fig. 2) in eastern Idaho, to the Montgomery site in eastern Utah, down through eastern Arizona into northern Mexico, eastward to the Texas-Louisiana border (the Prairie-Eastern Woodlands junction), up through Oklahoma and eastern Arkansas through western Illinois into Wisconsin, and into southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. The Folsom sites are densest on the High Plains, and reported Folsom points are very rare to the eastern boundaries. There is an interesting cluster of Folsom points that have been found in the area of Knox, Macoupin, and Greene Counties, Illinois (Fig. 3). I have seen probably 20 of these that Greg Perino called Illinois Folsoms. They are all made of the same very high-grade, pure white Burlington chert. This area is just to the north of present-day St. Louis, Missouri, where the Missouri River meets the Mississippi River. Jeb Taylor reports that the Missouri River was highly utilized by the Folsom people in North Dakota, and it is not difficult to imagine a Folsom band traveling the length of the Missouri River on a hunting expedition.

    Important Folsom sites include Bobtail Wolf and Big Black in North Dakota; Hanson, Agate Basin, and Hell Gap in Wyoming; Lindenmeier and Stewart's Cattle Guard (in the sand dunes of the San Luis Valley) in Colorado; Cooper in Oklahoma; Folsom and Blackwater Draw in New Mexico; and Lipscomb and Shifting Sands in Texas. There have been a large number of Folsom artifacts found around the playas (dry Pleistocene lake beds) in the Tularosa Basin around El Paso, Texas and extending into Chihuahua, Mexico.

    Another important Folsom site is the Mountaineer site in the southern Rocky Mountains at 8600 feet elevation in southwest-central Colorado. This site is important because it proves, along with mountain sites in Middle Park, Colorado, that Folsom people inhabited high elevation sites and did not live just on the plains. At the Mountaineer site, archaeologists to date have found 17 clusters of Folsom artifacts including knapping debitage numbering in the thousands; and there are the remains of an ancient house structure - a shallow circular depression five meters in diameter with rocks up to a hundred pounds in weight placed around the depression. Evidence indicates that gaps around these larger rocks were filled in with smaller rocks and leftover holes were plastered with mud to form a walled structure. The structure was likely finished with 3 upright willow or aspen poles.

    Folsom points tend to be smaller, more delicate, and more refined in workmanship than Clovis points. They were fluted over most of the point, and this resulted in a very high failure rate during the fluting process, with estimates ranging from 40-75% of the preforms snapping (Fig. 4). The Folsom tool kit contained unifacial and bifacial knives (with some of these known as ultrathin bifaces), end scrapers in great numbers, spokeshaves, gravers, drills and punches, and burins. There are no ivory artifacts such as those sometimes found with Clovis assemblages, but incised bone discs, a tiny bone bead at the Shifting Sands site in west Texas, and tiny eyed bone needles at sites in Colorado have been found. These eyed needles prove that Folsom people wove fabric, and they undoubtedly had other wood, bone, and fiber goods that were not preserved.


    Figure 4. Broken point fragments from the Shifting Sands site.

    Most Folsom bison hunting probably centered around simple ambush kills of a few animals at springs and water holes, but the best evidence we have is at larger, communal kill sites. The numbers of bison found at kill sites range from 5, to 55 at the Lipscomb site. Arroyo (dry, deeply cut creek bed) bison traps were used by Folsom hunters at the Carter/McGee site, the Agate Basin site, and the Cooper site in the Oklahoma Panhandle. (Fig. 5). Here a large male bison skull with a red ochre, lightning-like symbol painted on it was found on top of the bone bed, and is unique evidence for ritual activity by the Folsom hunters. Non-bison remains and food sources found at Folsom sites include duck, deer, pronghorn antelope, rabbit, turtle, wolf, prairie dog, peccary, mountain sheep, marmot, and possibly a camel or llama at the Wasden site in Idaho. Most Folsom sites are near playas, streams, or springs and are near bison kill sites. These camp sites are very small, and population estimates range from five family units (approximately 25 people) to larger temporary numbers for large communal hunts. These camps were used to butcher and process the bison, and then for rearmament and tool maintenance.


    Figure 5. The painted skull and artist reconstruction.

    Lithic material acquisition was very important. Likethe Clovis knappers before them, Folsom knappers traveled 4 long distances to obtain the highest quality lithic materials. Dennis Stanford has reported that Flattop chert artifacts found at three Folsom sites in Colorado were made of the only lavender variety of Flattop chert he had ever seen. There was a nearby source of white Flattop chert in large quantities, with the same knapping qualities, that was not used at these sites. Three Texas lithic materials were widely used and transported great distances from their sources, these being Alibates chert and Tecovas chert from the Texas Panhandle, and Edwards Plateau chert from central Texas. Hixton silicified sandstone was used in Wisconsin and Knife River silicified lignite ("Knife River flint") in the northern High Plains. George Frison, at the Clovis and Beyond conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, reported that he believes that fluting had some ritual component, as there was a significant emphasis on high-grade, colorful lithic material and an apparent insistence on full fluting techniques despite high failure rates during knapping.

    Regarding Midland points, the consensus is that they are unfluted Folsom points. I have seen an Alibates point from west Texas that was fluted to the tip on one side, and the reverse had no fluting and a classic Midland appearance. The Scharbauer site near Midland, Texas is considered the type site for the Midland point.

    Leslie has had a life-long interest in archaeology, with his main interest being the Paleo and Early Archaic time periods. He founded the Lone Star State Archaeological Society in 1998, the same year he started the Temple, Texas artifact show. Leslie has served the G.I.R.S. as Treasurer, Co-Editor, member of the Board of Directors, and has written numerous articles for both Prehistoric American and the Central States Archaeological Journal. He is also Chairman of the Board for The Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A -and- M University, and is a board member for The George Frison Institute at The University of Wyoming.


    Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

  • #2
    THE HISTORY OF THE FOLSOM SITE
    By Jeb A. Taylor


    Figure 1. George McJunkin, discoverer of the Folsom site.
    (Rights Reserved, Image Archives, Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

    The Folsom site is located in Colfax County, New Mexico, and it is one of the most famous archaeological sites in North America. There are a number of versions of how the site was discovered, but credit for its discovery is generally given to George McJunkin (Fig. 1), a black cowboy and foreman of the Crowfoot Ranch near where the site was located.


    Figure 2. Wild Horse arroyo.
    (Rights Reserved, Image Archives, Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

    The presently accepted version regarding the discovery of the site is as follows: In September 1908, a torrential rainfall on Johnson Mesa sent torrents of water running down and cutting deeply into the banks of Wild Horse Arroyo (Fig. 2), a tributary of the Dry Cimarron River. Soon after the flood, McJunkin and a companion were riding along the arroyo where McJunkin noticed very large white bones eroding out of it.

    Having worked with cattle most of his life, McJunkin was familiar with cow bones, and as a young man, he had crossed the Staked Plains of Texas during the days of buffalo hunting and was familiar with modern bison bones. Consequently, he was able to determine that the bones in Wild Horse Arroyo were neither, and deduced correctly that they belonged to an extinct variety of bison (Folsom 1974:35).

    By all accounts, McJunkin realized the significance of the site, and through the years attempted, but failed, to solicit much interest in it. However, in 1912 he related the story of the giant bones and location of the site to Carl Schawachheim in Raton, New Mexico. Schwachheim was interested in the site, and would eventually become its chief investigator, but at the time, he did not own a car and was not inclined to make the sixty mile long round trip journey to examine it by horse drawn wagon.

    Sometime later, probably in 1918 or 1919, McIunkin met another amateur naturalist and a friend of Schwachheim named Fred Howarth, and once again related the story of his discovery to an interesting listener who would also eventually play a key role in the recognition of the site.

    On December 10, 1992, Schwachheim, Howarthm, and three other associates made the trip to Wild Horse Arroyo. Sadly, McIunkin, who had promoted the site for more than ten years, was believed to have died the previous spring, so he was not aware that anyone had finally taken interest in it, or just how important it was. In any event, after his visit, Schwachheim wrote in his diary:

    Went to Folsom and out to the Crowfoot Ranch looking for a fossil skeleton - found the bones in arroyo north of ranch & dug out nearly a sackfull which look like the buffalo & elk - we only got a few near the surface they are about 10 feet down in the ground (Folsom 1974).

    The bones excavated that day were initially studied by the men, but otherwise sat untouched for another three years.

    During that time, Jesse D. Figgins and Harold J. Cook from the Colorado Museum of Natural History (now the Denver Museum of Nature and Science) were excavating a site near Colorado City, Texas where three projectile points were found underneath a block of earth that contained an unidentified variety of extinct bison. Unfortunately, the excavator did not realize the significance of this association, and allowed the points to become dislodged from their in situ postions. This find was extremely exciting because it demonstrated that man had lived alongside, and presumably hunted, Pleistocene bison thousands of years before he was believed to have been in North America. But it was also extremely frustrating because once the points had become dislodged, they could no longer be used as positive proof of their association with the Pleistocene bison bones.

    It is not clear here whether Figgins announced this discovery or not. Folsom (1974:36) states "Without photographs or eyewitness testimony of some authority, Figgins felt he could not announce the find." However, Figgins exhibits a very defensive reaction to this find in his later correspondences with Barnum Brown (see below) so he may have announced it.

    Accounts vary considerably regarding how Schwachheim and Howarth connected with Figgins and Cook; however, they all agree that in February 1926, Figgins and Cook had the opportunity to study samples of the bones from Wild Horse Arroyo and that they were identified as belonging to an extinct variety of bison. There is also agreement that on March 7, 1926, they all visited the site, and that by early May, initial fieldwork there had begun. At that time, Figgins hired Schwachheim to begin removing the overburden above from the site and on May 26, wrote to Barnum Brown at the American Museum of Natural History, "We have located another deposit of bison material in New Mexico and have something rather unusual."

    In June 1926, Frank Figgins, Jesse's son, was sent down to help with the removal of the overburden and to supervise the removal of the bones. At this point in time, the goal was apparently to excavate a mountable bison; consequently, the focus was paleontological rather than archaeological (Meltzer et al. 2002:8)
    On July 14, 1926, the distal portion of a fluted point was recovered (Fig. 5A), but not in situ (Meltzer 2002:8). After Figgins examined it, he wrote once again to Barnum Brown:

    Last week I had the shocking news that an arrowhead had been found associated with a bunch of dorsal vertebrae of the New Mexico bison, and on Monday it arrived. Not unexpectedly, it proves to be very similar to those found with the Texas bison, but more pointed and of superior workmanship, due, possibly, to a difference in material. Unfortunately, the shaft end is missing, but seemingly, only a small portion of it. Now, doesn't that beat the devil? And I wonder who will be the first to accuse me of finding too many arrowheads with Bison . . . ? I am having the boys scan every particle of dirt they remove—first with the prospect of finding the missing part, and to discover any other artifacts (Folsom 1974:37).

    Figgins (1927:232-233) then states:

    Not until nearly the close of the season was additional evidence uncovered, this proving to be a second arrowhead almost identical with the first in form, and like the first, having the proximal end missing (Fig. 5B). The material from which it was fashioned is distinctive, being a very pale gray background, through which run narrow, diagonal streaks of red. This artifact, too, had been dislodged before its presence was suspected, but at the spot from which it came, the tool struck a hard substance, which upon being exposed, proved to be a wedge-shaped fragment of flint, approximately one-quarter of an inch in width by three quarters of an inch in length, lying in a fixed position adjacent to a bison rib. This was removed without being disturbed, in the form of a small block, and in addition to the flint and rib in close contact, there are also in the block two toe bones and an atlas. Upon its arrival at the laboratory, immediate attention was given to cleaning the fragment of flint, which proved to be of the same material as that of the larger portion of arrowhead, and suggested that it might be part of the missing proximal end. When a test was made, a perfect contact resulted. The perfection of this contact, together with the peculiar markings and color of the material from which the artifact was fashioned, prohibits any conclusion other than that they are parts of one and the same artifact.


    Figure 3. Carl Schwachheim at the Folsom site.
    (Rights Reserved, Image Archives, Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

    This then was actually the first documented Folsom to be found in a positive association with Pleistocene bison, but it was insufficient to quell the doubt that surrounded such a radical and unprecedented finding. In 1927, the excavation continued with Floyd Blair in charge (Folsom 1974:39). Due to a discussion Figgins had with Ales Hrdlicka the previous year, workers were instructed to leave any artifact that they discovered untouched and in situ to be photographed and witnessed by independent observers. On August 29, 1927 Schwachheim wrote in his diary:

    I found an arrow point (Fig. 6 and 5C) this morning, it is a clear colored agate or jasper. It is not exposed the full length, but it is hollow on the sides and looks something like this (inserted drawing). The point was near the rib in the matrix. One barb is broken off… sent a letter to the boss today.

    When Figgins received word of the find, he sent telegrams to Barnum Brown, major museums, and to a group of archaeologists who were conveniently assembled at a conference in Pecos, New Mexico. As soon as was possible, Barnum Brown, A.V. Kidder, and Frank H.H. Roberts, Jr. arrived to examine the find and all concluded that there was no doubt about the association between the bison bones and the projectile point. Interestingly, the most prominent man in the field of physical anthropology in the 1920s, Ales Hrdlicka of the United States National Museum (now the Smithsonian Institution), steadfastly refused to accept that man was in North America during the late Pleistocene. In regard to the artifacts recovered with the bison bones at the Folsom site, he stated they "… ,cannot be linked with Paleolithic culture or with geological antiquity". To challenge Hrdlicka at any time for any reason was not a wise career move. To do so without absolute and positive corroborative evidence was professional suicide. To most archaeologists, however, this discovery opened the door to new and exciting discoveries on the Plains and elsewhere in the New World.


    Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

    Comment


    • #3
      How Extensive was the Folsom Tradition in North America?
      Edmund A. Butkus, Crown Point, Indiana
      Paleo fluted points have always been held in high esteem and have held a special fascination for both archaeologists and collectors since the first early discoveries in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. Clovis points, the earliest of the fluted types, have the largest distribution range and are found throughout most of North America into Mexico and Central America. There is some variation in form, but this could be due to different time periods or regional adaptations within the Clovis culture. In some locations, Clovis points are not found because of past existing glacial conditions that made certain areas uninhabitable during the Clovis period. From the earliest fluted Clovis points, many localized variations of fluted projectile points developed. This was probably due to the different environmental zones across the Americas that supported various plant and animal life. With a more diverse and changing animal population came the need for more specialized projectile points.
      One fluted projectile point that developed from Clovis, on the North American high plains, is the Folsom fluted projectile point. This unique Paleo point has a fairly large distribution range but not as extensive as the earlier Clovis Paleo points. The highest concentration of Folsoms is found on the southwestern and western high plains from Canada to Mexico, then into the Central plains from north to south. Fluted point variations such as Cumberland, Holcombe and others have a more localized distribution pattern east of the Mississippi River. The Folsom Paleo period has been dated to approximately 11,000-10,500 B.P. whereas many of the eastern fluted point variations have not been found in dateable context. The current belief is that the Folsom tradition lasted approximately 500*1000 years. Some later eastern fluted points could be of the same time period as Folsoms. Folsom points have been excavated in the west and southwest in direct association with an extinct form of bison that once flourished in a prairie-grassland-type setting. This type of environment appears to be what attracted bison herds and Folsom hunters to these areas.
      In South America, a well-established fish tail projectile point complex developed at about the same time period as the Folsom culture. Two of these fish tail complex sites are identified as Magellan I and El Inga I. The Magellan I site is in a cave known as Fell's cave shelter located in southern Chile. El Inga I is an open-air site located in the highlands of Ecuador. These sites date roughly in the 11,000-9000 B.P. range. The Fell's cave fish tail points from Chile were found in association with extinct sloth and horse. There are other sites of this cultural complex located in South and Central America, but little data has been reported. These fish tail projectile points have wide blades that are stemmed with slightly flared ears at the ends and range from 1.5 to 3 inches long. The stems are as much as a third to half the total length of the projectile point. Longer stem lengths may be due to the amount of blade re-sharpening, resulting in shorter blade lengths. The stems exhibit basal edge grinding to dull the edges. Many specimens have short fluting on the bases. These Paleo points are generally referred to as Magellan I or Fell's Cave fish tail and are made of obsidian and cherts. This is a classic example of regional adaptation of a Paleo projectile point cultural complex from South America, with Central America being the northern-most expansion of this culture.
      The writer will concentrate on the Folsom Paleo projectile point with its many distinctive features and large distribution range. Sometimes, the Folsom point is misidentified by collectors and archaeologists. Because of the many unique features of the Folsom projectile point, the author cannot understand why this misclassification occurs. Most Folsom points that were collected in the past are anciently reworked in some manner. Prehistoric re-sharpening and occasional re-basing are forms of rework due to damaging the point in the hunt or damage during manufacture. Rarely are these points found in unused or unaltered condition. Folsom points in pristine condition (unused and unmodified) are long and slender. Unmodified Folsoms generally range from 2 to 3 inches long, with some examples exceeding 3 inches. The Folsom is still much smaller in weight and size than most Clovis points when in unaltered condition. Two classic examples of tip modifications are demonstrated on two Dane County, Wisconsin, Folsoms discussed later in this report. The smaller heavily reworked point has a wider base than the longer specimen, which has only slight tip re-sharpening.
      The Folsom projectile point is identified by the leaf shape with a concave base and small basal ears. In most cases, they are fluted on both sides of the blade with wide flutes in relation to the width of the blade. The flutes generally extend almost the full length of the blade. There are a few exceptions where some examples exhibit multiple narrow flutes or flutes that do not extend the full length of the blade. In many specimens, a small nipple-like projection extends out from the middle of the base that was used as a striking platform to produce the flutes. Generally, the base width averages from 16 to 24 mm (25 mm equals one inch), and the widest part of the blade is located past the mid-section toward the tip. The few unaltered Folsom points the writer has studied do not display the widest part of the blade near the tip but closer to the midsection, and these specimens are long and slender. Basal grinding extends approximately one-third the length of the blade from the basal ears upward and also into the basal cavity. Sometimes, the thinness of some examples resulted in fluting only one side. The Folsom has a thin cross section with fine general workmanship and excellent fine retouch chipping along the blade edges inward to the flutes. The Midland projectile point appears to be related to the Folsom lithic complex. It has been found in association with Folsoms and has the same general characteristics as the Folsom point but lacks the flutes. The Midland bases are slightly concave to straight, thus do not have the distinct delicate basal ears that are prevalent on true Folsoms. Most of the Folsom point data such as blade lengths, blade widths and other observations were made from specimens that were reworked in various ways. These projectile point characteristics do not represent the original unaltered Folsom. This may also be true for many other projectile point types. Therefore, average reported blade lengths are smaller than the original Folsom projectile point before any modification resulting from re-sharpening and re-basing. All these observations are the general rule, and there are no doubt exceptions to the norm.
      The lithic materials utilized by these Paleo hunters are another fascinating aspect about the Folsom tradition. This culture went to great lengths to procure the most high-grade and colorful materials that were available. From earlier Paleo times, these later Folsom hunters must have located and mentally recorded where these lithic sources were located and visited these sites when convenient, made special procurement trips when needed, or traded with other groups of Paleo hunters. The Folsom culture was probably divided into numerous small bands of extended family groups that lived and hunted together and likely interacted occasionally with other similar bands for exchange of goods and socializing. Some of the most common lithic materials employed were agate, jasper, chalcedony, petrified wood, quartzite and high grades of chert and flint. In rare instances other materials were used, such as obsidian, basalt, and poorer grades of flint and chert. These stone substitutes were probably due to lack of other suitable raw materials while on the hunt. Unlike the Clovis cache discoveries, the writer is not aware of any Folsom caches ever being found.
      Evidence from excavated Folsom sites indicates a high failure rate during the manufacturing process of the Folsom projectile point. Most breakage occurred during the fluting stage. This brings up a question: why go through all this work to obtain exotic, high-grade, colorful lithic materials and develop a manufacturing technology to produce this delicate projectile point? Was all this really necessary for successful hunting of bison and whatever other game Folsom man hunted? Could it be that the materials utilized along with the stylized projectile form were ritualistic and were thought to add to a successful hunt? Or was it simply a pride of workmanship and materials by good flint knappers from the various Folsom Paleo groups? Perhaps the answer is a little of both. Sometimes we tend to put too much emphasis into why ancient man did certain things, but I personally think part of the fun of archaeology is to speculate and come up with theories.
      The main objective of this report is to demonstrate the large distribution range of the Folsom complex for the relatively short duration of this culture and to initiate further studies to determine the furthermost range of these Paleo hunters in North America. Some Paleo-environmental studies indicate that an extension of the prairie grassland, similar to the western plains that supported Pleistocene bison, may have existed up to and east of the Mississippi River in the Midwest. Late Pleistocene/early Holocene records of bison bone discoveries in the eastern half of North America correspond well with the Folsom points recovered from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.
      Patrick J. Munson has done a study on Folsom points found in the upper Mississippi River drainage basin and has demonstrated that these Paleo projectile points are identical to the western forms. Munson also indicates that the eastern-most distribution of Folsoms probably had a prairie-like vegetation and bison that resulted in similar adaptations for both the western and eastern Folsom traditions. This grassland extension from the western plains is referred to as a "Prairie Peninsula Vegetational Province" that still existed into the early Historic period in the Midwest. Munson also relates the number of Folsom point discoveries with find locations that are in private and museum collections that were found in states bordering the Mississippi River basin. No data is given on lithic materials utilized. Munson's tabulation of Folsom points from states within the immediate Mississippi River basin study are as follows: Minnesota-16, Iowa-9, Missouri-3, Wisconsin-10, Illinois-17 and Indiana-1. Munson's report also indicates that Greg Perino has stated that at least twenty complete and a considerable number of broken Folsom points have been found in the headwaters area of Macoupin Creek in Illinois. These finds were not available at the time of Munson's study and were not included in his report.
      A recent conversation with Jeb Taylor from Buffalo, Wyoming, who has studied many western Paleo points, has shed some light on the possible far western expansion of the Folsom Paleo complex. In the western states Folsom points do not seem to appear west beyond the Snake River into Oregon and Washington. They are found, although somewhat rarely, in Idaho and Nevada. Folsoms seem to be absent in California, probably due to the various mountain range barriers or lack of suitable habitat. In Manitoba, Canada, there have been more Folson points than Clovis points found. The Folsom discoveries are concentrated in the southwestern portion of the province. Early environmental factors could explain the rarity of Clovis points from Manitoba. More western studies with the cooperation of archaeologists and collectors are needed to determine the western, southwestern and northern plains expansion of the Folsom tradition.
      From additional Folsom point discoveries that I have personally observed and that were not included in Munson's report, the writer will tabulate a new total for Folsom projectile points from Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Data included with these newly reported Folsom points will be recovery locations, length and base width measurements, lithic materials used and other observations. Two Wisconsin Moline chert Folsoms from Dane County have full flutes on both sides of their blades. Both have ancient tip re-sharpening. The larger specimen measures 61 mm long and has a base width of 18 mm. The smaller Folsom measures 42 mm long and has a base width of 19 mm with a slight basal nipple projection present. A third Wisconsin Folsom is of a honey-colored Hixton quartzite. This projectile point was found in the southwestern part of the state and has full flutes on each side of the blade. This specimen measures 69 mm long, has a 19 mm base width and has little if any modification of the blade. These Wisconsin Folsoms represent three newly reported specimens for the state. Two Illinois Folsoms are both made from an off-white chert, probably Burlington. Both specimens exhibit full flutes on each blade surface and have basal nipple projections present. One Folsom is from Troy Grove Township, La Salle County, that measures 57 mm long and has a base width of 19 mm. The second specimen was found near Barrington in Cook County and measures 45 mm long and has a base width of 18 mm. These two Illinois Folsoms were both anciently modified by re-sharpening of the tips and represent two new Folsoms for the Illinois total. Munson has reported a Folsom that was also found in Cook County, Illinois. This specimen is from the McGinnis Slough site, 11-Ck-6, located near Orland Park, a southwest suburb of Chicago, while the other Cook County newly reported Folsom is from Barrington, a suburb located northwest of the city. In addition, there were at least six Clovis points found in the McGinnis Slough area. The most important newly reported find is a basal portion of a classic Folsom that was found on a slight rise in a flat muck-bottom farm field west of Bass Lake in Starke County, Indiana. This specimen is heavily patinated to a brown color. It appears to be a white chert, possibly Burlington. Two other brown, patinated, thin, small lanceolate blade forms were found on another rise in the same farm field. One of the lanceolates has flutes on both sides of the blade. There were also many Archaic points and a few Woodland points found on a total of three muck bottom rises in the farm field. The Starke County Folsom base measures 20 mm wide, and there is a distinct basal nipple projection present. There are wide flutes present on each side of the base that probably extended the full length of the blade. This specimen has the small delicate basal ears that are typically present on classic Folsom points. This single newly reported basal portion specimen represents only the second known Folsom from the state of Indiana. Both Indiana Folsoms are from the northwestern part of the state.
      The newly revised Folsom projectile point total for three states east of the Mississippi River are Wisconsin-13, Illinois-19 and Indiana-2. The writer has heard of more Illinois Folsoms from the northern part of the state but has not personally seen these, and, therefore, they are not included in the tabulation. There are also more Folsoms from Wisconsin that the author has seen in the past but could not relocate for study. Presently, there is a fluted point survey being conducted throughout Illinois and into the border states of Wisconsin and Indiana. This study will inevitably increase the Folsom point totals for these states.
      In conclusion, the author has made some observations about the Folsom tradition east of the Mississippi River. Folsom projectile points are not as rare as previously thought in the upper Mississippi River drainage basin with the exception of the fringe areas where found. Folsoms are still not as prevalent as Clovis points in the upper Mississippi River drainage basin. This lower concentration of Folsom points in relation to Clovis points can be explained by the shorter duration of the Folsom culture if the established dates from the southwestern states are correct.
      Of the small number of Folsom points viewed by the writer in private collections, six total, all are made of high quality lithic materials that were obtained from sources within an approximate 300-mile radius from where the finished points were found. Archaeological Paleo projectile point studies from Illinois and bordering states indicate that the Mississippi Valley Folsom points surveyed are of various midwestern lithic materials. The lithic materials utilized may demonstrate that these Mississippi River basin Folsom Paleo hunters were in this area for a while and knew where to find these midwestern quarry sites rather than having been new comers that transported exotic stone and finished points from the west for later use.
      Because of the large geographical range for the Folsom tradition, it is difficult to imagine that this culture was of such a short duration as now believed, 500-1000 years. Hopefully, someday a dateable Folsom site in the upper Mississippi River drainage area will be discovered and will then demonstrate how these dates correspond with the western Folsom sites that have been previously dated. It appears that Indiana was the eastern-most expansion for the Folsom hunters, since there are only two recorded Folsom points from this state. There are probably many more Folsoms from the Mississippi River basin region that were either overlooked by researchers or the provenance and artifacts were lost by previous and present owners of these Folsom projectile points. Other Folsoms were not included because they were not available for study when surveys were made or when reports were written. In reality, there are probably as many unrecorded as recorded specimens. More Folsom points will probably be discovered in the future as a result of construction projects, farming and archaeological digs. Hopefully future archaeological investigations will determine the entire range of the Folsom Paleo hunters and answer more questions about the various aspects of this fascinating bison-hunting culture.
      The author would like to thank Ted Koelikamp, Tom Loebel, Jeb Taylor and Gene Hynek for their help and contributions that made this article possible.

      Left - Personal find. Shakopee chert Clovis with dimensions similar to that of a Folsom. Length 55mm. Base width 17mm. A single narrow flute extends along the blade edge up from the base on opposite blade sides. Flutes are 21mm and 24mm long. Ancient tip resharpening is evident. Found in Green Garden Township, Will County, Illinois. Center - Previously described Folsom base from Starke County, Indiana. Right—Smaller of the two Dane County, Wisconsin Folsoms previously described.
      Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
      I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

      Comment


      • #4
        THE COOPER SITE: FOLSOM BISON HUNTING ON THE SOUTHERN PLAINS
        By Leland C. Bement
        Following the extinction of some of the largest animals on the North American continent was the development of regional subsistence technologies. On the Great Plains arose the Folsom bison hunters. Generally dating to between 10,800 and 10,200 radiocarbon years ago, sites of this culture consist of bison kills, short term camps associated with kills, and repeatedly occupied larger camps. The Cooper site in northwest Oklahoma was the scene of three bison kill events within the confines of a single dead-end gully (Fig. 1). Known as an arroyo trap, bison were funneled into a steep-walled gully and then speared by hunters safely perched on the gully rim above the animals (Bement 1999). Only a portion of each kill was preserved in the gully remnant. Excavations uncovered a minimum of 20 animals in the lowest kill, 29 in the middle kill, and 29 in the upper kill. If each remnant represents 50% of the actual kill number, then each kill contained between 40 and 60 animals.

        Figure 1.  Map showing the location of the Cooper site in northwest Oklahoma.
        Limited butchering and quick burial of each kill resulted in the preservation of many fully articulated skeletons (Fig. 2). Butchering marks on the shoulders and along the hump and spine suggest the animals were filleted like fish, leaving articulated skeletons. The recovery of articulated skeletons at other Folsom kills such as the Lipscomb site in the Texas Panhandle may indicate the use of a similar butchering style (Hofman et al. 1991). The quick burial of articulated skeletons preserved many projectile points within the chest cavity of animals.
        The bison were from three distinct herds of the early Bison antiquus species (Bement 1997). Animals in each kill represent cows, calves, and juveniles of both sexes. In the modern species, such nursery herds are common following the summer rut or mating season. The tooth eruption and wear patterns of the youngest animals indicate they were approximately four months old at the time of death, suggesting a late summer/early fall season of death for all three kills.

        Figure 2. This photograph of the middle kill illustrates the density of articulated skeletons preserved in the arroyo fill.
        Evidence that the hunters were above their prey is seen in the angle of spear impacts on bison ribs. These spear impacts also provide indisputable evidence that the points within the bone beds were employed by the hunters to kill the animals. This is particularly important when the size and workmanship of some of the points are considered. For example, the smallest projectile point is only 2.0 cm long. It was found in the middle kill event between the ribs and scapula, indicating it was hurled into the animal. Such a small point has often been described as a miniature or play point. In this case, several points of similar size were found within the chest cavities of animals, indicating their use by the hunters. The small size of the points is attributable to the Folsom resharpening practice of simply refurbishing a tip onto a broken point. Sometimes new bases were formed. Such a practice identifies the use-life sequence of Folsom points, and indicates the conservation of lithic material practiced by these mobile hunters. Indeed, the recovery of points made of stone from as far away as northwest Kansas, the Texas Panhandle, and central Texas attest to the level of mobility and the need to conserve tool stone during these hunting forays.
        One of the most beautiful examples of Folsom point technology was found at the Cooper site (Fig. 3). This point, made of translucent brown chert from the hill country of central Texas, is 63.3 mm long, 21.0 mm wide, only 3.2 mm thick, and is fluted from base to tip on both faces. Very fine pressure flakes finish the edges. Several broken points within the middle kill are made of similar central Texas chert and display the same fine level of workmanship. Taken as a group, these points may have been made by the same flintknapper. They also indicate that even beautifully crafted points saw action during the kill. Although such exquisitely crafted points are often suggested to indicate ritual offerings following a kill (a situation not precluded by the finds at the Cooper site), the Folsom hunters were not opposed to employing these points when needed.

        Figure 3. Projectile points from the Cooper site.
        Ritual was a part of Folsom life. Following a long tradition of painted, etched, and carved animal bone objects that dates to Clovis and, even before them, Paleolithic artists in Europe and Asia, the excavations at the Cooper site unearthed evidence of ritual associated with bison hunting. During the 1994 excavation, a bison skull with painted red zigzag lines was uncovered in the middle kill deposits (Bement et al. 1997). This skull, from an animal in the lowest kill, was positioned at the head of the gully. It peered down the gully in the direction of oncoming animals. A red hematite-based mineral paint was employed to create the designs (Fig. 4). Coming from the lowest kill, Mother Nature had already cleaned the hair, hide, meat, and grease from the skull. The sun had bleached it white. Several years after the lowest kill event, hunters returned to the area and, upon discovering the partially buried skull on the gully floor, they painted and positioned it as part of a pre-kill ritual. The ritual was probably designed to bring good luck to the hunt. Similar rituals were still being conducted by early historic bison hunting societies as witnessed by the first European traders to the Northern Plains.
        The Cooper site is important because it illustrates the repeated use of a single spot on the landscape for hunting bison, a high degree of preservation, and the use of ritual by these early hunters. But it is not alone. The Jake Bluff site is less than a mile away. It is a multi-component site with both Clovis and Folsom deposits. The Waugh site bison kill and camp is just across the divide to the north. The large kill at the Lipscomb site is along a tributary to Wolf Creek, which dumps into the North Canadian just downstream from the Cooper site. These and other Folsom sites attest to a significant presence of these bison hunters on the southern Plains.
        Leland C. Bement is a research archaeologist with the Oklahoma Archeological Survey, University of Oklahoma, Norman. He received his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of Texas at Austin. Since completing his dissertation work on Archaic hunter-gatherer mortuary practices in central Texas, he has specialized in bison kill sites, including Bonfire Shelter and Big Lake in west Texas, and the Cooper site, Certain site, and Jake Bluff site in Oklahoma. His specialties include animal bone archaeology, hunter-gatherer studies, lithic technology, paleo-environments, and Paleoindian studies. He has authored numerous articles in scientific journals, reports, and two books, including one on the Cooper site published by OU Press. He is an Associate Editor of Prehistoric American.
          Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
        I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

        Comment


        • #5
          THE CEDAR CREEK FOLSOM LOCALITY
          By Jim E. Cox, D.D.S.

          Cedar Creek is a well known multi-component archaeological site in western Oklahoma. It has been referenced in the archaeological literature since professional investigations began there in 1947 (Bell 1948, 1951). While it is famed for its Paleoindian and Pleistocene deposits, it is most remarkable for its frequency of Folsom artifacts. This locality has produced more diagnostic Folsom artifacts than anywhere else in Oklahoma (Hofman1994). Collected over the last 80 plus years, numerous Folsom and Midland examples have come to light in the collections of a number of individuals. The quantity recorded by this author and Dr. Jack Hofman have now exceeded well over 100 specimens.

          Selected Cedar Creek Folsoms and Midlands, Cox Collection
          Top Row: Finished Folsom points, all of Edwards chert or Alibates.
          Bottom Row: Finished Midland points and two channel flakes, far right one with graver spur.
          Materials recovered indicate the canyon was a kill site as well as a camp location. The high density and array of Folsom materials from Cedar Creek have led some researchers to suggest it is a Folsom "aggregation" site (much like the Rendezvous of the nineteenth century mountain men in Western lore). Other Folsom sites identified as potential aggregations are Lindenmeier, Shifting Sands, Adair-Steadman and Lipscomb (Wilmsen 1974; Wilmsen and Roberts 1978; Hofman, Amick and Rose 1990; Tunnel 1977; Hofman 1990, 1992, 1994; Hofman, Todd, Schultz, Hendy 1991, and Schroeder 2007).
            Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
          I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

          Comment


          • #6
            UPDATE ON THE WESTFALL FOLSOM SITE
            By Tom Westfall
            In 1999, Grayson Westfall discovered a Folsom campsite along the Upper Bijou Creek in Elbert County, Colorado. Since that time the site has been routinely visited by the Westfall family for surface collecting, and the University of Kansas has conducted two separate field schools at the site, along with several surface surveys. Over 2500 chipped stones pieces have been recovered from the site including fluted preforms, channel flakes, retouch flakes, scrapers, gravers, varied flake tools, and point fragments. To date, no complete or even mostly complete points have been recovered from the site.

            Representative artifacts from the Westfall Folsom site, Elbert County, Colorado.
            Initially, wind erosion had exposed artifacts over an area of approximately 13,600 square meters. Within this space, however, were areas that did not produce artifacts, and it is likely that these areas were simply not eroded down into the occupation level. In the ensuing years, the field has been planted into alfalfa and little wind erosion has occurred. The lack of erosive action has severely limited surface collecting. Although the region is currently experiencing a drought, from time to time a thunderstorm will move off the mountains and soak the area. Following these events, a small amount of lithic material can generally be found. In addition, there are a number of gophers in this field, and on occasion, lithic material is found near a gopher hole.

            Black Forest wood Folsom point from the Polly blow-out, Yuma County, Colorado.
            The majority of artifacts from the assemblage are made of Black Forest silicified wood (about 96%) which outcrops in many areas of the "Black Forest Region" of Colorado. Black Forest (sometimes called Elizabethan) wood occurs as cobbles and residual pieces within three-quarters of a mile of the Westfall site. Westfall is one of several sites (including the Hahn site, which is located some ten miles south of Westfall in El Paso County, Colorado) where Folsom people produced artifacts from this distinctive stone. Generally speaking, the stone is yellow and mottled brown, although some may be nearly translucent, with orange and nearly red streaks appearing, along with some crystalline inclusions. Folsom artifacts of this material usually occur in small numbers in assemblages throughout the central High Plains of eastern Colorado, southwestern Nebraska, western Kansas, and the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. The author has collected Black Forest wood Folsom point fragments from the San Luis Valley, the Smoky Folsom site in Kit Carson County, the Polly Blow in Yuma County, the Wenger site, and has a Folsom "snap-tip" made of Black Forest wood from the South Platte "River Folsom Site" in Logan County, Colorado.
            The Westfall family, along with Dr. Jack Hofman, archaeologist with the University of Kansas, have identified five areas in the site that seem to be the most productive at the present time. Area A has been by far the most productive, yielding a variety of retouch flakes, broken tools, point fragments, broken preforms and channel flakes. In addition, several pieces of hematite were recovered from Area A, including one large ground piece, and several large sandstone pieces, which may have been part of an anvil.
            A variety of mostly late-stage stone tool fabrication and tool retouch is evident in Area A. There are a number of reddened flakes (which occurs to Black Forest wood when it is exposed to heat) and this is interpreted as the presence of one or more hearths in this area. Burned artifacts and a cobble tool were discovered in Area B, along with several tools, including an end scraper. Area C is located on a portion of the field that had not eroded much. However, one year the farmer made a road through this portion of the field (a trail road caused by daily trips through the area to feed cattle) and the deflation of the road yielded several tools and tool fragments. Area D has yielded several Flattop chalcedony tools, including a small graver, while Area E artifacts include Alibates flakes, and an Alibates point fragment. On the lower areas of the field, following the last really good wind storm which caused any erosion on the site, the family found four point fragments and very little debitage, which may suggest that this was a meat processing area, rather than a manufacturing area. To date, no test units have been dug in this area, though it is anticipated that this will occur during a subsequent field school (2008). It is assumed that these areas represent more or less contemporaneous activities, but the refit pieces have not yet yielded any direct links between the areas, such as happened frequently at the Shifting Sands Folsom site in west Texas.

            2004 University of Kansas field school, Westfall Folsom site.
            The most common artifacts are flakes made of Black Forest wood. More than half of these have intact platforms, and this suggests that there has been minimal post-removal breakage due to factors such as trampling or plowing (which has occurred on the site a number of times over the years). In the most recent excavations at the site (2004) several late prehistoric arrow points made of Flattop chalcedony were removed during excavation. These were found within the plow zone, and it is speculated that plowing churned some of the later artifacts, depositing them nearer the bottom of the plow zone.
            Manufacturing activities are evidenced by early-stage biface failures and Folsom preforms which failed during the removal of the first or second fluting attempts. Numerous channel flakes have been recovered. Surprisingly, not many endscrapers have been recovered from the site. None found thus far exhibit the rounded polish associated with dry-hide wear. It may be that the hide-processing area of the site has yet to be found.
            One of the most interesting tool forms recovered at the site are "notched" flakes. The use for these notched flakes has yet to be determined, and use-wear analysis studies will be conducted in the future. At least 34 notched flakes have been found at Westfall, and it appears that this may be a "yet to be named" Folsom tool type. Since discovering these notched flakes at Westfall, the author and his family have been careful to note the presence of this type of tool at the other Folsom sites they study/collect. Thus far they have discovered notched flakes at Smoky Hill, San Luis, Blackmore (Washington County, Colorado) and at the Charles site (Kit Carson County, Colorado).

            Examples of notched flakes from the Westfall site. 34 notched flakes have been recovered from the site. The picture above is from a poster entitled: "Recent Research at the Westfall Folsom Site, Colorado" which was presented at the Plains Anthropological Conference in 2004. One of the benefits of working with professionals is that they may produce papers or posters on an interesting aspect of your collection.
            A spring/marsh area is located near the site, and a series of low hills in most directions protect the site. The site sits at headwaters of the Bijou drainage which may explain why there are no alluvial deposits covering this 10,000 year old site. Wooded ridges occur nearby as does extensive open range. This site would have afforded Folsom people access to water, wood, nearby lithics, and a wide variety of game, including deer, bison, bear, and elk.
            Further field work is anticipated, and will be expanded into some of the previously described "non-productive" areas of the site. It is hoped that these portions of the site may be buried slightly deeper and may not have been exposed to as much erosion, increasing the likelihood of discovering an intact hearth.
            It is likely that there is some type of kill site in the general area, although to date this particular feature has not been found. One area on the west end of the site has produced a number of broken point fragments (rather than fragments of points broken in manufacturing) and this might suggest the presence of a kill site feature nearby.
            The owner of the site, who declined to have his name attached to the site due to the fact that his name is quite distinctive and would essentially be an "advertisement" to area surface collectors, has been highly cooperative in allowing this important site to be researched. The Westfall family, along with their colleagues at the University of Kansas, thank the owners for their willingness to allow archaeological explorations at the site. Due to the extensive use of Black Forest wood at this site, further study at the site will help us more fully understand its usage throughout the plains. From a regional perspective, the use of this distinctive material is of special interests as it was apparently a minor lithic source during Folsom times. Additionally, the further evaluation of this relatively large assemblage (2500 pieces) can provide insight into the activities and movement of Folsom people on the High Plains.
              Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
            I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

            Comment


            • #7
              THE WASDEN OWL CAVE FOLSOM MATERIAL FROM EASTERN IDAHO
              By Ruthann Knudson, Ph.D., RPA, and Susanne J. Miller

              Not all important Folsom sites have beautiful tool collections - some are pretty small and beat up! But they are no less significant - for example, the Folsom collection from the Wasden Owl Cave site (Fig. 1).

              Figure 2.
              The eastern Idaho Snake River Plain is a 60-mile-wide, 125-mile-long high altitude landscape of plains, seasonal and dry lake beds, marshes, sinks, sand dunes, lava blisters, and obsidian-bearing mountains. The Snake River lies on its eastern side and mountains bound it to the east and west. It ends in the north in a grassy continental divide that itself leads to the basin-and-range valleys of the northwestern High Plains. In its center, set into a sagebrush prairie steppe, is a three-cave complex of collapsed lava blisters known as the Wasden site - including Owl Cave.
              The privately owned Wasden site was found by Helen and Richard Gildersleeve of the avocational Upper Snake River Prehistoric Society, Inc. (USRPS) in the mid-1960s. Society members were involved in excavations at the site for over a decade - and still are involved today.
              Owl Cave (10BV30) was first excavated by Idaho State University archaeologist B. Robert Butler in 1965-1971 (Butler 1978). Butler excavated down through a dense bison bone bed that has been dated between 7800 and 8200 years ago, and which was underlain by a layer of heavy rockfall. There was a suite of points of a generalized Late Plano style (Butler 1978: Fig. 34) associated with the bone bed. These are similar to materials from the Birch Creek sites in Idaho (Swanson 1972), the Barton Gulch (Davis et al. 1989) and Myers-Hindman (Lahren 2006:104-131) sites in Montana, and the Mummy Cave (Rusted and Edgar 2002), James Allen (Knudson and Kornfeld in press), and Hell Gap (Larson, Kornfeld, and Frison in press) sites in Wyoming. Below the bison bed and its underlying rockfall is a Folsom level.
              From 1974 through 1977 ISU doctoral student Susanne J. Miller and the USRPS excavated below the rockfall into a deposit of butchered mammoth and other bones and associated Folsom tools, working with a variety of specialists and the support of the National Science Foundation. The extinct fauna and fluted points were found in distinctive, wet, dark silt. Associated with the mammoth bones and Folsom tools were the remains of Bison antiquus, camel, pronghorn antelope, dire wolf, badger, fox, and many microfaunal species. The level probably extends farther back into the lava tube as well as out in front of the cave under the rock debris of the collapse depression. Mammoth bone collagen from the Folsom deposits was radiocarbon dated at 10,920±150 years ago (WSU-1786; Miller 1982:89).
              The mammoth bone was heavily butchered, and apparently a sophisticated bone technology had been used on and with the remains (Miller 1989). There is evidence of percussion fracturing of the bone, marrow extraction, and the collection includes two bone cores and a bone flaker.

                               Figure 3.                                                  Figure 4.
              The Folsom assemblage includes three obsidian point fragments, a chalcedonic chert point fragment, one chert microtool, a chert or silicified wood bifacial cutting/scraping tool, a bone flaker, and a dozen pieces of flaking debris - all well used.
              Finally, the collection includes a chert microtool that we pulled out of the dozen or so flakes found in the excavations (Fig. 7a-c). This tiny piece (the worked and working edge is only 7mm long) must have been inset into a fine haft and used like a pen knife. We are not sure of the source of this chert. We have not seen anything like this before, but comparable tools are easily overlooked in the small flake collections from other sites.

              The Folsom folks butchering out animals at the Wasden Owl Cave site certainly did not leave a lot of stone tool evidence behind them, and the pieces they did leave were heavily used. I suspect that the chalcedonic chert point tip, flaked cutting/scraping tool, and microtool were originally lost in the gore, but the three obsidian pieces appear to have been so broken and/or used that they were just discarded. This pattern is comparable to the Folsom materials from the MacHaffie site in Montana (Forbis and Sperry 1952), which is some 250 miles north of Wasden Owl Cave over that low prairie continental divide. While quite a few Folsom or Clovis fluted points have been found on the surface of Idaho's Snake River Plain (Titmus and Woods 1992), the Wasden Owl Cave is a rare tale of a Folsom living/working surface this far northwest in North America.
                Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
              I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

              Comment


              • #8
                FOLSOM IN THE ROCKIES - FRISON INSTITUTE STUDIES
                By Marcel Kornfeld
                Director, George C. Frison Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Wyoming

                The University of Wyoming (UW) Anthropology Department has long been engaged in studying Rocky Mountain Folsom sites. Since the creation of the Prison Institute in mid 1990s at UW this effort has grown. My goal here is to review the prior Folsom studies and discuss the ongoing research of the Prison Institute in the Rocky Mountains.

                Since 1970s excavations at the Hanson site in the Bighorn Basin a steady stream of Folsom sites or components has been under investigation. Early studies include at least Agate Basin Area 2, Brewster (Agate Basin Area 3), and Carter Kerr-McGee. More recently the Prison Institute has investigate the Barger Gulch Locality B, Lower Twin Bison Mountain, and a series of surface and shallowly buried sites in the Middle Park of Colorado, as well as the Krmpotich site and Two Moon shelter in Wyoming. We have also returned to Agate Basin's Brewster Area, Area 2, and have tested between these two localities. A variety of Folsom sites is represented by these studies. Hanson site is a camp and workshop site with a variety of chipped stone production activities as well as domestic spaces, indicated by prepared house floors, hearth placements, and scatters of burned bone and chipped stone. A house floor is also present at the Agate Basin Folsom component in Area 2 with a hearth in the center. These house floors represent the oldest known structures in North America. Agate Basin Area 2 Folsom component and Carter Kerr-McGee Folsom component, however, are bison kill, processing, and camp sites and contrast with Hanson in that the assemblage consists of a large quantity of Bison antiquus remains.

                Recent investigations at the Krmpotich Site on the western side of the Killpecker Dune field in Wyoming ed an extensive some campsite with major quantities of Folsom point production. Although little bifacing is seen in the debitage, the reason is that the raw material used or point production, the small cobbles of oolitic chert, are turned directly into preforms, generally just by removing much of the cortex. Michael Peterson has been able to replicate this production sequence while studying the Krmpotich assemblage for his MA thesis at UW. The more than 100 channel flake fragments make Krmpotich one of the largest Folsom projectile point production sites. The camp component of the Krmpotich site shows that a variety of activities were carried on by Folsom groups occupying the ttquus skull. site, such as hide working, represented by scrapers and gravers.
                In 1986 Brian Naze showed that the Middle Park of Colorado was heavily occupied in Folsom times and that occupation has been shown to be even denser by Frison Institute's recent investigations. Based largely on avocational collections without which there would be no Middle Park Paleoindian project, about 40 Folsom locations have been documented in the park. Three of these Folsom localities have been tested—Lower Twin Mountain and Barger Gulch localities A and B.
                Gulch Locality B, has yielded a buried Folsom component approximately 50 centimeters below the current ground surface. Locality B is a workshop and campsite less than several football fields away from a source of Troublesome Formation chert. This Miocene age material, colloquially referred to as Kremmling chert, is the most ubiquitous source of raw material in the Middle Park with many of the outcrops of excellent quality, and is the most common source used by Folsom groups. Ninety-nine percent of the artifacts at Barger Gulch Locality B are manufactured from, not surprisingly, Kremmling chert.
                At this stage of investigation, the site has produced several artifact concentrations. Although always difficult to interpret, such concentrations demarcate activity areas and in this case probably domestic structures. Extensive refitting studies by John Laughlin in his master's thesis work at UW and spatial studies by Todd Surovell provide strong evidence for such structures. Barger Gulch Locality B has also produced extensive evidence for in situ replacement of projectile points. In other words, most of the exhausted and broken projectile points are of Troublesome Formation chert as is most of the manufacturing debris. As Surovell and Waguespack of the Frison Institute suggest, this pattern indicates relatively long term use of Locality B, duration of perhaps several winter months.

                Surovell futher compares Barger Gulch Locality B to all of the sites mentioned above as well as others to show how different Folsom sites fit in the overall Folsom settlement strategy. This analysis confirms their hunch that Barger Gulch is a long term camp, perhaps occupied for six months in the winter. During that time many projectile points of local material were manufactured, used, and replaced at the site. Some projectile points were manufactured to later preform stages from exotic raw material, and a variety of tools were manufactured, used, and maintained during the occupation. All those activities can be expected in a winter hunter-gatherer village.

                Below: Artifact distribution and refits at Locality B of the Barger Gulch site.  Curves suggest the location of a structure.  (from John Laughlin)

                Finally, one of the most exciting ongoing Frison Institute projects is Two Moon shelter on the western flanks of the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. Two Moon is one of the thousands of rockshelters and caves in the central Rocky Mountains, many of which were used prehistorically. The research in the region is an interdisciplinary project designed to understand the use of these natural features through prehistory with a particular emphasis on Paleoindian occupation and shelter use in the process of peopling of the Americas. The study is a group effort by Frison Institute researchers including: George Frison, Marcel Kornfeld, Mary Lou Larson, Robert Kelly, and Judson Finley. Thus far, Two Moon shelter has produced two Folsom projectile points and a 10,050 radiocarbon date, associated with two stratigraphically separated cultural components: Folsom and Agate Basin. This rockshelter is one of a few in North America with an unambiguous evidence of fluted point occupation and the only one with a clear fluted point component, a possible Folsom living floor.

                In conclusion, the George Frison Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at UW has recently investigated about a half dozen significant Folsom localities in the Southern and Middle Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. These have yielded tens of thousands of artifacts and a variety of faunal specimens. The data from these specimens are providing a much broader view of Folsom culture patterns and systematics than heretofore existed. Long term Folsom camp use is unusual and suggests a settlement strategy quite different from the high mobility lifeways suggested by some investigations, and adhered to by many others. Continued investigations, especially with sophisticated, high tech, and detailed field methodologies, such as used by the Frison Institute, will show us many new and unexpected aspects of Folsom peoples.
                  Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
                I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

                Comment


                • #9
                  THE SHIFTING SANDS FOLSOM/MIDLAND SITE (41WK21)
                  By Tom Westfall

                  Figure 1. Folsom and Midland points from the Shifting Sands site.
                  There is a bias among some professional archaeologists which suggests that avocational collectors do considerable harm to the archaeological record through focusing only upon projectile points, failing to keep tools and utilized flakes from a specific site segregated, inadequately recording the material recovered, and failing to work cooperatively with professional archaeologists on sites of value and importance. Viewed by some professionals as "thieves of time", many avocational collectors further the professional bias by failing miserably in the aforementioned categories. There are, of course, notable exceptions, and one of the most significant of these is the Shifting Sands Folsom/Midland site in western Texas.
                  For the past twenty-five years, Richard Rose of Midland, Texas has visited the Shifting Sands site on at least a monthly basis. Additionally, he has made the trek to the site following significant wind erosion. He has surface collected 164 projectile points and point fragments, 34 point preforms, 112 channel flakes, 155 complete or nearly complete scrapers, 98 utilized or informal flake tools, 66 gravers, 5 ultrathin biface knives (one of which is complete), 8 perforators, 1 awl, 9 bifaces, 2 large quartzite choppers/ anvils, 6 hammerstones, 1 red ochre stone, 6 bend-break tools, 10 radial-break tools, 3 hinge flake tools, 4 burins, 8 spokeshaves, 2 knives, 100 tool fragments, over 8000 chert flakes, and 1 bone bead.

                  Richard Rose (left) and Dick Eckles sharing a laugh at the Stone Age Fair, Loveland, Colorado, September 2006.
                  The Shifting Sands site is located on the Pecos Plain along the southern portion of the Llano Estacado, in Winkle County, Texas. The site itself is a series of 5 to 8 meter-deep blowouts in a large dune field. The site has yielded the above listed stone tools, along with many weathered bone fragments. During the past 25 years, a large portion of the site has been exposed to the erosive effects of strafing winds, and the blowouts have "moved" over time, covering some portions of the site, while uncovering other areas.

                  Figure 3. 16 pieces resulting from the failed manufacture of one Folsom point from the  Shifting Sands site.
                  The Shifting Sands site is extremely important for a variety of reasons. First, it has been meticulously collected, and each flake that became exposed through erosion has been catalogued and kept for further study. Secondly, no other Folsom/Midland site has provided the type of large scale spatial patterning in site structure that is evident at Shifting Sands. Third, in terms of sheer numbers, the Shifting Sands site artifact assemblage is one of the three or four largest ever found at a temporally discrete site. And finally, Rose sought out the assistance of professional archaeologists including Dr. Dan Amick and Dr. Jack Hofman to assist him in gathering the material in the best possible manner. For example, datums have been established within each of the active blowouts and many artifacts have been "piece-plotted" using a compass and tape.

                  Figure 5. Uniface scrapers and knives from the Shifting Sands site.
                  A wide variety of Folsom and Midland projectile points (Fig. 1) have been found at the site, including several "diminutive" points. One of these appears to have been made on a channel flake, and while most of the "normal-sized" points exhibit some degree of use damage, the diminutive points show little use wear or damage and their functional utility remains an intriguing unknown!
                    Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
                  I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

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                  • #10
                    THE LIPSCOMB FOLSOM ASSEMBLAGE AND ITS SUDPLANO TECHNOLOGY
                    By Ruthann Knudson, Ph.D.
                    When is a Folsom point just that and not an unfluted Folsom or a Midland point? A clue to this classificatory question lies in the Lipscomb Folsom site and assemblage.

                    Figure 1.
                    The Lipscomb site in the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle (Fig. 1) was known by World War I, excavated by C. Bertrand Schultz of the University of Nebraska State Museum in 1939 (Schultz 1943) and 1946, and then reinvestigated by Jack Hofman and Lawrence Todd in 1988-1993 (Hofman 1999; Todd, Hofman, and Schultz 1993). The site has never been characterized as anything but a Folsom site.

                    Figure 2.
                    Folsom hunters killed and butchered at least 56 bison at Lipscomb, probably in the late summer or early fall. A total of 30 flaked stone projectile points (Figs. 2-4) and fragments were found at the site, as well as 13 other flaked stone tools (Fig. 5), two channel flakes (Fig. 2), and more than 20 small flakes. Most of the flakes probably are from resharpening and reworking the flaked stone tools.

                    Figure 3.
                    Almost all of the projectile points found at Lipscomb have had "flutes" removed from both faces of the point, e.g., flakes taken off the longitudinal axes of each face to leave concave grooves on those faces. But one Edwards Plateau chert point (Fig. 4a) had only one flute removed, with the other face still bearing the smooth face of the tool's original flake perform. A second point, which may also be Edwards Plateau chert (Fig. 4b), also has a remnant of its original preform face across which a flute has been removed. The archetypical Folsom point, the point found between bison ribs at the original Folsom site, also has a remnant of its original preform flake face at the top of its flute scar. These original flake faces are oriented with the platforms from which they were struck (presumably the thickest part of the original flake) of the finished tool. Thus, the thinner part of the original preform flake would have been used to shape the proximal or hafted end of the point.

                    Figure 4.
                    There are several large bifacial flake tools in the Lipscomb assemblage (Fig. 5) that would have been useful butchering tools as well as preforms for new Folsom points when needed. This idea is discussed by Ingbar and Hofman (1999:103) in their analysis of the Lipscomb tool kit - this paper is a good read for anyone interested in Folsom technology.

                    Figure 5.
                    "Unfluted" points within Folsom assemblages are not unusual. Ingbar and Hofman (1999:102) noted that they have been found at Blackwater Draw (34%) and Elida (16%) in New Mexico, Lindenmeier (25%) in Colorado, and Hanson (10%) in Wyoming Unfluted points showing their original flake preform faces are also found at the Plainview site (Knudson 2005) in the Texas Panhandle. The Plainview site and related materials are  generally dated at 10,000 radiocarbon years ago, some 600 years later than most of the Folsom material. I have called this use of direct thin flake manufacture of stone points the Sudplano (sud = southern, Figure 5 piano = plains) technology, and it is exhibited in at least the Folsom, Midland, Milnesand, Jurgens, Olsen-Chubbuck, Lubbock Lake, Lindenmeier Folsom, and Bonfire Shelter assemblages as well as at Lipscomb (Knudson 1998:653). This technology seems to have been very useful and to have lasted quite a while!
                    The Lipscomb Folsom site, its bones, and its flaked stone tools have been known for at least 80 years, but there are always new ideas and information from such a classic site and collection. It is always fun going back to the early finds.
                      Published in the G.I.R.S. Journal: Prehistoric American, Vol.41, No.4 and used by permission.
                    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

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