Culture: Clovis Paleoindian
Setting: human settlement / megafauna extinction, North America 13,500-11,000 BP
* Kurten 1988 plate 27
"[I]t is evident that the entrance of the so-called Paleoindians, about 13,000 years ago, resulted in a great change in the American scene. The Paleoindians were anatomically modern men, ancestral to the Amerindians of the present day, and their hunting gear with exquisitely shaped, fluted projectile points indicates a specialization in big game. Early Paleoindians, the so-called Clovis people, hunted the mammoth and mastodon, as shown by several finds of butchered specimens with scattered projectile points."
* Collins 1999 p40
"... [A] major rethinking of the romantic notion that Clovis big-game hunters ranged over most of North America is long overdue. It is not clear exactly what will replace that concept, and it will take years of good, hard dirt archeology to ascertain a clearer picture of Clovis 'culture.' Most likely, multiple regional Clovis adaptations will emerge, each with distinct responses to specific kinds of plants, animals, and other resources. It is to be hoped that there will also emerge some answers to the questions of why, over such a wide area, Clovis stone and bone tools were made in much the same way and why, in most regions, much use was made of exotic stone."
* Mann 2005 p169-170
"Clovis culture had a distinctive set of tools: scrapers, spear-straighteners, hatchetlike choppers, crescent-moon-shaped objects whose function remains unknown. Its hallmark was the 'Clovis point,' a four-inch spearhead with a slightly cut-in, concave tail; in silhouette, the points somewhat resemble those goldfish-shaped cocktail crackers."
* Justice 1987 p18
"Clovis points are the earliest defined projectile point type of the Paleo-Indian tradition, widespread in North America by about 12,000 to 11,000 B.C., nearing the close of the Pleistocene glacial period. Radiocarbon dates from Meadowcroft Rock Shelter in Pennsylvania are well in excess of 16,000 B.C. However, these dates have not been accepted. Dates falling between 9000 and 8000 B.C. represent later phases of the Fluted Point tradition in the Great Lakes area and the Northeast.
"Knowledge of changing ecological conditions of the late Pleistocene period and numerous finds of extinct animals and the presence of Clovis points in the East have long suggested an association of large elephants and Clovis hunters similar to the well documented mammoth kill sites in the Southwest. The association has now become a reality with investigations at the Kimmswick site in eastern Missouri near St. Louis. A clear Clovis-mastadon (Mammut americanum) association has been documented in pond sediments beneath an early Holocene deposit. Smaller mammalian fauna in the point sediment and pollen data from this region indicate a deciduous woodland and open grassland environment for the Clovis component. The environment to the north at the time of the Kimmswick occupation was probably still periglacial with subarctic parkland flora and fauna. Although information about the Clovis economy is still scanty in the East, the developing ecological picture implies a more diverse economy of which the hunting of large animals was only a part."
* Dixon 1999 p151-152
"The primary weapons used for hunting in North America in early times were the lance and/or thrusting spear (which could also be thrown), the atlatl and dart, the bow and arrow, the bola, throwing sticks, and a variety of clubs. ...
"During the Paleoindian period, the major weapon system used for hunting was based around the atlatl, or spear thrower. The spear thrower (atlatl) was sometimes equipped with an atlatl hook, which is a hook-like object attached to the back of the atlatl providing a seat for a dimple-like depression at the end of the dart. The term atlatl is a word used by the Aztec of central Mexico for spear thrower and is commonly used by North American archeologists. ... "Although no spear throwers known to be more than 8,000 years old have been found in North America, it is probably safe to assume the discovery of atlatl hooks are reliable indicators of the use of this weapon. The preserved hooks have been found at several Paleoindian sites .... Consequently, the use of the spear thrower can be demonstrated in the absence of the artifact itself. In North America and some other areas of the world, the atlatl was never fully replaced by the bow and arrow. It was probably retained for selective use as the 'heavy artillery' of its day that could reliably penetrate the thick hides of some large mammals and even human armor. It also has the advantage of being a weapon that can be used with one hand, thus freeing the opposing hand to use tools, weapons, or shield."
* Lister & Bahn 1994 p122
"Clovis points, finely carved spearheads of stone, were hafted onto long shafts with pitch and sinew. They were efficient weapons which could penetrate thick hide even when thrown from 70 ft (20 m) away. Modern replicas of Clovis points, attached to 7-ft (2-m) wooden shafts, can penetrate deeply into the back and rib cage of (already mortally wounded) elephants in Africa, as experiments have shown. Their points are undamaged by repeated use unless they hit a rib."
* Oakes 2003 p132-133
"Clovis points have been found in every US state below Alaska. These distinctive stone points appear suddenly in the archaeological record about 13,000 years ago and were first discovered near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1930s. Looking like spearheads, Clovis points were usually attached to a long dart shaft and launched with an atlatl. They were used for hunting large animals, often being found with, or even embedded in, the bones of mammoths. They have a unique grooved or fluted shape that is remarkably uniform throughout the vast area over which they are found, suggesting that they were made by a pioneering culture. The grooves helped secure the points to shafts, and also caused victims to bleed more profusely. The points were made of high-quality, sometimes semiprecious, stones like chert, quartz, obsidian, flint and hematite and often shattered once inside their victims, maximizing damage. They form the basis of a light and highly mobile tool kit, with off-cuts from their manufacture being used for a variety of other tools. For example, final shaping of a point created razor-sharp flakes needed for butchering animals and scraping hides, while earlier shaping produced knives and hide scrapers."
* Jones 2007 p57
"The design of the Clovis points precludes bringing down the mammoth with force, which would have required larger points like the harpoon points used against whales. Simply, they were too short and too fragile to be the sole killing force against a mammoth. The bone mass and massive muscles with which elephants move tons of body weight, combined with the constricted musculature of an animal under attack, would shatter the delicate fluted points in the animal, and perhaps this was intended. A number of early accounts indicate that some Indian groups designed poison arrowheads to shatter or disengage from the shaft within the victim's body. ...
"The possible origin of Clovis populations also supports the poison-use hypothesis. No one knowns for sure where the Clovis people came from, but experts presume northeast Asia, which suggests they traveled through arrow-poisoning cultures into the New World."
* Oakes 2003 p136
"Atlatls are stick- or board-shaped wooden and bone spear-throwers used by early Americans. They were put to deadly effect by the first Americans, who used them to launch high-speed darts, tipped with stone Clovis points, at New World megafauna.
"Atlatls are easy to use and allow weapons to be thrown with more power than conventional spears, because they give the thrower's arm extra leverage. The stone-tipped dart lies alongside the atlatl, with the dart base fitting in a hooked notch at one end. The pair are gripped in one hand and thrown with a whipping action. As the dart is released, the atlatl bends and then springs back into shape providing extra propulsion. This more than doubles the force that could be provided just by throwing the spear.
"Equipped with this deadly weapon, early Americans could puncture the tough hides of mammoths and other monsters to inflict mortal wounds from a safe distance. They may also have used the weapon against each other."