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Mammoth Ivory Rods in Eastern Beringia: Earliest in North America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 October 2021

Brian T. Wygal*
Department of Anthropology, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY, USA
Kathryn E. Krasinski*
Department of Anthropology, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY, USA
Charles E. Holmes
Department of Anthropology, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK, USA (
Barbara A. Crass
Museum of the North, Fairbanks, AK, USA (
Kathlyn M. Smith
Department of Geology and Geography, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, USA (


The Holzman archaeological site, located along Shaw Creek in interior Alaska, contained two mammoth ivory rods, of which one is bi-beveled, within a stratigraphically sealed cultural context. Dated 13,600–13,300 cal BP, these are the earliest known examples of osseous rod technology in the Americas. Beveled ivory, antler, and bone rods and points share technological similarities between Upper Paleolithic Europe, Asia, eastern Beringia, and the Clovis tradition of North America and are important tool types in understanding the late Pleistocene dispersal of modern humans. The Holzman finds are comparable to well-known Clovis tradition artifacts from Anzick (Montana), Blackwater Draw (New Mexico), East Wenatchee (Washington), and Sherman Cave (Ohio). We describe these tools in the broader context of late Pleistocene osseous technology with implications for acquisition and use of mammoth ivory in eastern Beringia and beyond.

El sitio arqueológico de Holzman, ubicado a lo largo de Shaw Creek en el interior de Alaska, contenía dos varillas de marfil de mamut, de las cuales una es bi-biselada, dentro de un contexto cultural estratigráficamente sellado. Fechado en 13.600-13.300 cal aP, estos son los primeros ejemplos conocidos de tecnología de varillas óseas en las Américas. Las varillas y puntas biseladas de marfil, cornamenta y hueso comparten similitudes tecnológicas entre el Paleolítico Superior de Europa, Asia, Beringia oriental, y la tradición Clovis de América del Norte, y son tipos de herramientas importantes en la comprensión de la dispersión del Pleistoceno tardío de los seres humanos modernos. Los hallazgos de Holzman son comparables a los conocidos artefactos de la tradición Clovis de Anzick (Montana), Blackwater Draw (Nuevo México), East Wenatchee (Washington), y Sherman Cave (Ohio). Describimos estas herramientas en el contexto más amplio de la tecnología ósea del Pleistoceno tardío con implicaciones para la adquisición y el uso de marfil de mamut en el este de Beringia y más allá.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Society for American Archaeology

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