John T. Rine
Is the Clovis Complex America's Earliest Prehistoric Culture?
The Clovis Cultural Complex, named after the location of its defining site, the Clovis Site, is located in Clovis, New Mexico. The Clovis Cultural Complex, hereafter known simply as "Clovis", is readily identifiable through the presence of its key diagnostic artifact: the Clovis point. The Clovis Point, short for Clovis Projectile Point, has been interpreted, based upon kill site contexts and use wear analysis, as having been utilized as part of a projectile weapon system by the Clovis people.
The Clovis Point type has a unique morphology; its outline is similar in nature to projectile points associated with other American prehistoric cultural affiliations, however its basal region exhibits a distinctive trait. The base of a Clovis Point has a particular feature known as “fluting”. The flutes are made through the removal of large flakes from the basal region, one on each face of the projectile point. While there is other American prehistoric cultural complexes that utilized fluted point technology, for example Folsom, Barnes, and Cumberland, the Clovis Point is the oldest fluted point type yet identified.
Clovis was, until very recently, acknowledged as being the earliest cultural entity identified in the Americas. It has been determined, through the dating of several Clovis sites, that the Clovis Complex existed from 11,500 to 10,900 radiocarbon years before present ("Clovis and Solutrean: Is There a Common Thread?" par. 1). Clovis’ position as the oldest American cultural horizon is now being challenged through the discovery of archeological sites such as the Meadowcroft Rock Shelter in Pennsylvania, the Cactus Hill Site in Virginia, and the Topper Site in South Carolina. According to Mark McConaughy, an excavator at Meadowcroft, in order for a site, or a component thereof to qualify as being pre-Clovis, it must "have...