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Clovis Lithic Technology

Investigation of a Stratified Workshop at the Gault Site, Texas

Edited by Michael R. Waters, Charlotte D. Pevny, and David L. Carlson

Publication Year: 2011

Some 13,000 years ago, humans were drawn repeatedly to a small valley in what is now Central Texas, near the banks of Buttermilk Creek. These early hunter-gatherers camped, collected stone, and shaped it into a variety of tools they needed to hunt game, process food, and subsist in the Texas wilderness. Their toolkit included bifaces, blades, and deadly spear points. Where they worked, they left thousands of pieces of debris, which have allowed archaeologists to reconstruct their methods of tool production. Along with the faunal material that was also discarded in their prehistoric campsite, these stone, or lithic, artifacts afford a glimpse of human life at the end of the last ice age during an era referred to as Clovis. The area where these people roamed and camped, called the Gault site, is one of the most important Clovis sites in North America. A decade ago a team from Texas A&M University excavated a single area of the site—formally named Excavation Area 8, but informally dubbed the Lindsey Pit—which features the densest concentration of Clovis artifacts and the clearest stratigraphy at the Gault site. Some 67,000 lithic artifacts were recovered during fieldwork, along with 5,700 pieces of faunal material. In a thorough synthesis of the evidence from this prehistoric “workshop,” Michael R. Waters and his coauthors provide the technical data needed to interpret and compare this site with other sites from the same period, illuminating the story of Clovis people in the Buttermilk Creek Valley.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Peopling of the Americas Publications Series

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xvii

Gault is an extensive and prolific prehistoric site occupied intermittently throughout the known archaeological record of central Texas. It is situated in the upper valley of Buttermilk Creek in southwestern Bell County. Springs, chert, and sundry flora and fauna are among attractions that brought people to this spot over the millennia. Culture-bearing deposits here range from a few centimeters to over...

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pp. xix-xx

Though the Texas A&M University fieldwork at the Gault site took less than a year, the analyses of the materials from Excavation Area 8 took much longer. Supervised by Harry Shafer, David Carlson, Robson Bonnichsen, and Michael Waters, these analyses resulted in several theses and dissertations completed from 2002 to 2009. Shafer chaired several M.A. and Ph.D. committees until his...

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pp. xxi-xxii

Many people and institutions helped to make the fieldwork at the Gault site possible. Howard, Ricky, Doris, and Leslie Lindsey granted permission to excavate on their property. Mike Collins invited us to participate in the exploration of the Gault site and provided logistical support during the excavation. Jim Bowmer allowed us to use the lodging, kitchen, and dining facilities at Peaceable Kingdom...

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1. The Gault Site and the Investigation of Excavation Area 8

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pp. 1-9

Because Gault was a quarry, workshop, and camp, it provides an unprecedented look at Clovis lithic technology. Bifaces, in all stages of reduction, chronicle the Clovis trajectory of biface manufacture. Hundreds of cores, core- tablet flakes, and blades document the trajectory of blade production. Just as important are the tens of thousands of pieces of debitage left behind from these tool- making...

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2. Stratigraphy, Chronology, and Site Formation

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pp. 11-28

Buttermilk Creek divides the Gault site into two geologically distinct areas (figure 1). The south side of the creek is dominated by fans that emanate from two north- south trending tributary channels. Fan deposition is characterized by coarse-grained clastic sediments. As the fans aggraded, they also were inundated periodically by floodwaters from Buttermilk Creek. These overbank flood events...

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3. Introduction to the Organization of Clovis Lithic Technology at Excavation Area 8

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pp. 29-40

Clovis lithic assemblages are characterized by a distinctive biface and blade technology. These assemblages also have a diverse array of unifacial and bifacial tools (Collins 1999a, 2007; Collins and Lohse 2004; Huckell 2007; Stanford 1991; Tankersley 2004). What is currently known about Clovis technology has been pieced together from many sites in different environmental settings across the...

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4. Clovis Blade Technology

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pp. 41-81

Blades are defined as flakes that are twice as long as they are wide (Bordes 1961). A prismatic blade is a specialized elongated flake with parallel or subparallel lateral edges, a length at least twice the width (Bordes and Crabtree 1969; Crabtree 1972), and dorsal flake scars parallel to the longitudinal axis (Johnson 1983; Movius et al. 1968). Importantly, blades are associated with a prepared core technique; that...

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5. Clovis Biface Technology

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pp. 83-122

The bifaces and associated debitage recovered from Units 3a and 3b at Excavation Area 8 provide a unique opportunity to study Clovis biface technology at a single site where there is a large lithic assemblage and all stages of reduction are present. Five finished whole and fragmentary projectile points, one broken knife, and 54 other bifaces were recovered from this portion of the Gault site...

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6. Clovis Endscraper and Edge-modified Tool Assemblages

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pp. 123-133

Besides the manufacture of new tools, other limited activities took place at Excavation Area 8. The evidence of such activities comes from the recovery of 10 endscrapers, six blades, and 23 flakes that were retouched intentionally to shape edges. Many of these modified blades and flakes show evidence of usewear (chapter 7). The 10 discarded endscrapers are worn out and at the end of their use...

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7. Usewear Analyses of Clovis Artifacts

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pp. 135-151

Though several researchers have successfully applied the methods of microwear analysis to functional studies of Paleoindian chipped stone tools (Bamforth and Becker 2006; Kay 1998; Smith and Toth 1990), only a handful have focused on Clovis assemblages (Hudler 2003; Kay 1996, 1999; Marshall 1985). Here we report the results of usewear analyses conducted on the bifaces (Smallwood 2006), blades...

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8. Vertebrate Faunal Remains

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pp. 153-165

A total of 5696 vertebrate and 1171 invertebrate specimens were recovered from the late Pleistocene and Holocene deposits at Excavation Area 8. All of these specimens were examined and are reported in table 32; however, the emphasis of this chapter is on the vertebrate remains (n = 4581) from the Clovis-age deposits (Units 3a and 3b). Vertebrate remains that could not be confidently assigned to...

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9. Spatial Organization of the Clovis Lithic Workshops

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pp. 167-193

The concentrations of Clovis artifacts and bones recovered from Units 3a and 3b at Excavation Area 8 represent two separate occupations of the workshop. Artifact refitting, artifact orientation studies, and other analyses presented in chapter 2 demonstrate that the artifacts and bones in Unit 3a were not disturbed during burial or by post-depositional processes. Furthermore, this material is...

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10. Interpretation of the Clovis Workshops at Excavation Area 8: Tool Production, Site Structure, and Regional Settlement

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pp. 195-209

The Gault site is located at the headwaters of Buttermilk Creek where freshwater seep springs supply reliable, potable water. The ecotonal setting of the site, situated along the Balcones Escarpment between the Edwards Plateau and the Gulf Coastal Plain, has a variety and abundance of faunal and floral resources. The limestone outcrops on the slopes and uplands surrounding the site contain...

References Cited

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pp. 211-217


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pp. 219-226

E-ISBN-13: 9781603444675
E-ISBN-10: 160344467X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603442787
Print-ISBN-10: 1603442782

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 43 color photos. 60 color line drawings. 2 color maps. Reference list. Index.
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Peopling of the Americas Publications Series