Saturday, February 20, 2010


It is debated that around 12,000 years ago the first peoples set foot in the Midwest, coming up from the south, as the land to the north was still covered by the Wisconsin glacier of the Ice Age. As the climate warmed and the ice receded plant and animal life re-established. Animal life was quite different than today with varities of megafauna, distinctly large animals of this period - mammoth, mastodon, giant bison, ground sloths, and beaver. Also found was the camel, horse, peccary, and tapir. Dangerous predetors such as the dire wolf, saber toothed tiger, American lion, and short-faced bear roamed the landscape. Above is a section of a beautiful mural from the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. These Paleohunters (paleo is a Greek word for "ancient") were unique and identified by the type of stone points used on their spears - the Clovis point, so named for the location where the first was discovered in Clovis, New Mexico. Clovis points were unique being long and slender with a concave base. Flutes were driven up, from the base on both sides, supposedly to allow the attachment of a narrow shaft. Also the pointed ears projecting from the base helped keep the point set in place in the flesh. Pictured below is a Clovis point of Smokey Hills chert found in Nebraska. Around 9000 years ago the
point style began to change as the megafauna disappeared. Whether the large animals became extinct from hunting or disease is still a matter of debate. The later stage Paleohunters made use of smaller game and deer, elk, and carabou using more lanceolate styles of stone points in many varieties. The era of the Paleohunter lasted from around 12000 till around 8000 years ago and was marked by changes in their style of living. They were no longer only hunters, but not yet farmers. New ways and new tools were invented.

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