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The Earliest Cultures in the Western United States

  • Alex D. Krieger (a1)


Nearly all writers on the antiquity of man in America assume that the oldest archaeological sites contain chipped-stone projectile points and therefore cannot exceed an age of some 12,000 to 15,000 years, the estimates usually given to such projectile-point types as Sandia and Clovis. Suggestions of older sites, with radiocarbon dates ranging from some 21,000 years to as much as “greater than 37,000 years,” with simpler artifacts and an absence of stone projectile points, are generally viewed with suspicion if not abhorrence.

A recent paper by E. H. Sellards considers seven localities in the western United States and Baja California which, because of geological position and radiocarbon dates, are probably too old to contain stone projectile points. The writer agrees with Sellards that these localities are archaeological (except for that at Texas Street in San Diego, California), but disagrees that those in coastal locations are different from those in inland locations for “ecological” reasons such as food supply and availability of stone. The differences may be explained in that those sites on the shores of extinct lakes were never covered by overburden, whereas those which were covered by alluvium or sand are known to us now only by varying amounts of exposure by erosion or excavation (or both).



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