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The Pueblo population of Chaco Canyon during the Bonito Phase (AD 800–1130) employed agricultural strategies and water-management systems to enhance food cultivation in this unpredictable environment. Scepticism concerning the timing and effectiveness of this system, however, remains common. Using optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments and LiDAR imaging, the authors located Bonito Phase canal features at the far west end of the canyon. Additional ED-XRF and strontium isotope (87Sr/86Sr) analyses confirm the diversion of waters from multiple sources during Chaco’s occupation. The extent of this water-management system raises new questions about social organisation and the role of ritual in facilitating responses to environmental unpredictability.
Contemporaneity of people and the American mastodon (Mammut americanum) at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, has been extensively debated for more than two hundred years. Newly interpreted stratigraphic excavations and direct AMS ¹⁴C measurements on mastodon bones from Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, indicate that the megafauna are a palimpsest of fossils spanning at least 1,200 calendar years (11,020 ± 30 to 12,210 ± 35 RC yr B.P.). The radiocarbon evidence indicates that mastodons and Clovis people overlapped in time; however, other than one fossil with a possible cut mark and Clovis artifacts that are physically associated with but dispersed within the bone-bearing deposits, there is no incontrovertible evidence that humans hunted Mammut americanum at the site.
Direct dating of a Paleoindian bone point from Sheriden Cave, Ohio, yielded a radiocarbon age of 10,915 ± 30 ¹⁴C yr B.P. (UCIAMS-38249). This date was derived on highly purified bone collagen. This bone point was found in association with another bone projectile point and a reworked, fluted Clovis projectile point. The artifacts from Sheriden Cave fall within the age range of other Clovis sites in North America, dating to the late Allerød, before the start of the Younger Dryas.
The analysis of osseous (bone, antler, or ivory) beveled shafts or “rods” has become an important focus in the study of early Paleoindian tool technology. Since 1995 two carved and beveled bone rods have been recovered from Sheriden Cave in northwest Ohio in depositional strata that are radiocarbon dated to between 11,060 and 10,400 radiocarbon years B.P. These strata also contained a small, reworked, Gainey-style fluted point; cut and burned animal bone; and the remains of flat-headed peccary, caribou, giant beaver, and other taxa. The tapered tips and overall morphology of the bone rods demonstrate that they served as projectile points as opposed to other functional types such as foreshafts. Microscopic and radiographic examinations of the bone points reveal that they were manufactured from split sections of mega-mammal bone. These artifacts resemble bone and ivory points found at early Paleoindian sites in western North America and northern Florida but also bear significant morphological similarities to bone sagaie or javelin tips known from Upper Paleolithic sites in Europe. The close spatial and temporal associations between the Sheriden Cave artifacts suggest that they represent the remains of an early Paleoindian tool cache within a small resource extraction campsite.
The nature of Early Paleoindian economies in late Pleistocene eastern North America has been extensively debated by archaeologists. To better understand paleoeconomies we need to examine intraregional and interregional diversity in the production, consumption, distribution, and exchange of materials that sustained or reproduced early Paleoindian livelihoods. Coarse-grained comparisons drawn on the composition of flaked-stone tool assemblages from early Paleoindian sites in the Northeast (western New York State) and the western Midwest (the confluence area of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers) show varying degrees of homogeneity and heterogeneity in the use of tool stone. Statistically significant patterns from stone procurement and tool manufacturing sites, base camps, and food procurement and processing sites are presented in support of a pancontinental model of flexible economies during a period of rapid and dramatic environmental change.
Previous morphometric studies have identified variation in fluted-point thickness data but have seldom considered its cultural or technological sources. New data from western and eastern North America suggest that variation in fluted-point thickness results from variability in lithic raw-material selectivity and bifacial-flaking techniques.
Early 14C dates from Meadowcroft Rockshelter have engendered debate on the antiquity of human occupation in North America. Although the investigators of this important site conclude that particulate and nonparticulate contamination have not affected the radiocarbon dates, several points of confusion remain in regard to the question of coal contamination. We clarify these issues, provide comparative data from other sites, and recommend specific tests that are necessary to negate or support the issue of "dead carbon" contamination of radiocarbon samples.
Bituminous coal, previously suspected as a contaminant in radiocarbon samples, has now been demonstrated to be a source of dating error in archaeological and geological samples. Standard laboratory procedures are inadequate to recognize or remove coal from samples, but techniques for identifying coal particles include paleo-botanical and reflectance analyses, and possibly accelerator dating.