John T. Rine
2nd Position Assignment
The Peopling of the Americas: Death of the Clovis First Model
The Clovis Cultural Complex was, until very recently, acknowledged as being the earliest prehistoric culture identified in the Americas. With the discoveries, however, of North American sites such as: Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, the Cactus Hill Site, and the Topper Site, evidence against the Clovis first model of the peopling of the Americas is accumulating at a substantial rate. In fact so much evidence has accumulated that a case can be made for the abandonment of the Clovis first model. It is the aim of the author of this work to make such a case.
In order to disprove the Clovis first model, artifacts that can be proven to be significantly older, statistically speaking, then Clovis artifacts, must be found. 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 artifacts dating older than 12,500 years ago." ("Meadowcroft Rockshelter" par. 1). Three sites meeting this criterion will be discussed below, and a case against the Clovis First model will then be made.
Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, located near Avella, Pennsylvania, is one of the first sites in North America to be identified has having a pre-Clovis component. The horizon containing what is believed to be pre-Clovis stone tools has been dated to 16,800 BP (“Clovis Second: Time is Running Out for an old Paradigm” par. 17). Charcoal from a hearth feature, located in close proximity to a projectile point, was the source for the radiocarbon dating. Regarding the radiocarbon dating of Meadowcroft, McConaughy points out that “The early radiocarbon dates from Meadowcroft have been criticized by [several researchers] as being the result of various types of coal contamination” ("Meadowcroft Rockshelter" par. 3). McConaughy then describes how carbon contamination was avoided at...