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Modeling Clovis Landscape Use and Recovery Bias in the Southeastern United States Using the Paleoindian Database of the Americas (PIDBA)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

D. Shane Miller*
Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, Mississippi State University, P.O. Box AR, Mississippi State, MS 39762


In eastern North America, there are few stratified sites dating to the Late Pleistocene epoch (> 11,700 cal B.P.). Instead, researchers have relied on the distribution of surface sites and isolated finds to make inferences about how the early inhabitants of the region used the landscape. While proxies for modern recovery bias have been found to affect artifact recovery at a national scale, in the southeastern United States, I argue, they are poor predictors for the frequency of Clovis type bifaces (ca. 13,250–12,850 cal B.P.) from counties in the southeastern United States as reported in the Paleoindian Database of the Americas (PIDBA). Instead, counties with the highest density of Clovis bifaces are near sources of lithic raw material, and in particular the intersection of major rivers, physiographic boundaries, and lithic raw material sources. I contend that these locations could represent seasonal aggregation loci. Alternatively, they could reflect areas where lithic raw material is more readily available, which may have resulted in higher rates of artifact discard. Determining which of these hypotheses is a more accurate reflection of past human behavior requires that we untangle the degree to which the amount of time people spent at these locations was successive versus coeval.

En el este de Norte América existen pocos sitios estratificados que datan de la época Pleistocénica Tardía (>11,700 cal a.P.). Por lo tanto, las investigaciones se han enfocado en la distribución de sitios superficiales y hallazgos únicos para hacer inferencias sobre cómo los habitantes tempranos de la región utilizaron el paisaje. Ciertamente, el sesgo de recuperación de restos arqueológicos afecta a los patrones de distribución espacial a una escala nacional. Sin embargo, yo arguyo que este registro refleja patrones significativos y que los estimados de recuperación de sitios en la actualidad no predicen las frecuencias de artefactos bifaciales de tipo Clovis (ca. 13,250–12,850 cal a.P.) en los condados del sureste de los Estados Unidos, así como se reportó en la Base de Datos Paleoindios de las Americas (PIDBA). En cambio, yo he encontrado que los condados con la densidad mayor de artefactos bifaciales Clovis se localizan cerca de intersecciones de ríos importantes, límites fisiográficos, y fuentes de materia prima. Concluyo que éstas representan localidades las que son consistentes con áreas utilizadas como lugares de agregación. Alternativamente, estos lugare podrían reflejar áareas donde materia prima es más abundante, por lo que hubiese podido influenciar la frecuencia de artefactos abandonados allí. Para determinar cual hipótesis refleja el pasado de manera mas precisa es necesario averiguar si las ocupaciones en estos lugares son sucesivas o contemporáneas.

Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2016 

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