Did The Clovis People Have Neighbors?

The investigation of the Cooper’s Ferry site suggests that two peoples with different material cultures were living in North America some 13,000 years ago.

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Oregon State University field school students excavate Western Stemmed Tradition items from deposits
Oregon State University field school students excavate Western Stemmed Tradition items from deposits in Area B. Credit: Loren Davis.

2015: By Marcia Hill Gossard.

Loren Davis was standing with a historic photo in his hand looking at the south side of a canyon along the Salmon River in western Idaho. He was trying to match up the slow growing hackberry trees in the photo with the ones growing on the hill. Davis wanted to be sure he was in the same place in 2012 as where archaeologist B. Robert Butler, more than 40 years earlier, had uncovered Western Stemmed projectile points at the Cooper’s Ferry site.

Davis had already examined Butler’s field notes to compare the stratigraphic layers Davis had uncovered in the western side of Cooper’s Ferry, which he calls Area A, with those of Area B, where Butler dug. A and B are just 60 feet apart, and when Davis first excavated Area A in 1997, he also discovered Western Stemmed points. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal fragments associated with the points indicated they were between 13,220 and 13,260 years old. Butler hadn’t dated the points he uncovered, and given the proximity of A and B, Davis wanted to see if Butler had found his points in the same stratigraphic layer Davis had found his.

Looking at Butler’s description of the layers, he noticed something curious—it was vastly different from what Davis was seeing in Area A. Davis wondered if the deposits were in fact different, or if maybe Butler had used different descriptive terminology. The only way to know for sure was to locate and re-excavate Butler’s original site.

Summary. Read More in our Winter 2015 Issue of American Archaeology, Vol. 19 No. 3

Also read and see more photos from excavation at Sneak Peek Blog from the writer on Site

Click To Explore Our Bonus Online Images For The Story Below:

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