LOS PRIMEROS MEXICANOS: LATE PLEISTOCENE/EARLY HOLOCENE ARCHAEOLOGY OF SONORA, MEXICO by

LOS PRIMEROS MEXICANOS: LATE PLEISTOCENE/EARLY HOLOCENE ARCHAEOLOGY OF SONORA, MEXICO by
LOS PRIMEROS MEXICANOS: LATE PLEISTOCENE/EARLY HOLOCENE
ARCHAEOLOGY OF SONORA, MEXICO
by
Maria Guadalupe Sanchez de Carpenter
____________________
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the
SCHOOL OF ANTHROPOLOGY
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
WITH A MAJOR IN ANTHROPOLOGY
In the Graduate College
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
2010
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THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
GRADUATE COLLEGE
As members of the Dissertation Committee, we certify that we have read the dissertation
prepared by Maria G. Sanchez de Carpenter entitled Los Primeros Mexicanos: Late
Pleistocene/Early Holocene Archaeology of Sonora, Mexico
and recommend that it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
____________________________________________________________Date: 12/04/09
C. Vance Haynes Jr.
____________________________________________________________Date: 12/04/09
John W. Olsen
___________________________________________________________Date: 12/04/09
Paul R. Fish
___________________________________________________________Date: 12/04/09
Vance T. Holliday
Final approval and acceptance of this dissertation is contingent upon the candidate's submission
of the final copies of the dissertation to the Graduate College.
I hereby certify that I have read this dissertation prepared under my direction and recommend
that it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement.
____________________________________________________________Date: 12/04/09
Dissertation Director: Paul R. Fish
____________________________________________________________Date: 12/04/09
Dissertation Director: Vance T. Holliday
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STATEMENT BY AUTHOR
This dissertation has been submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for an advanced
degree at the University of Arizona and is deposited in the University Library to be made
available to borrowers under rules of the Library.
Brief quotations from this dissertation are allowable without special permission, provided
that accurate acknowledgment of source is made. Requests for permission for extended
quotation from or reproduction of this manuscript in whole or in part may be granted by the
head of the major department of the Dean of the Graduate College when in his or her
judgment the proposed use of the material is in the interests of scholarship. In all other
instances, however, permission must be obtained from the author.
SIGNED: Maria Guadalupe Sanchez de Carpenter
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Many individuals made the completion of this dissertation possible, and to all of them I will
be eternally grateful. To my “gran amiga” Elisa Villalpando for her unconditional support
that made the investigations in Sonora possible. To John Carpenter for listening, debating
my ideas, and fixing my spanglish. My eternal gratitude to Vance Holliday for believing in
me, supporting my research, his geoarchaeological expertise and arranging the processing
of the samples at different University of Arizona laboratories, and for being such a good
partner in the field. To Michael Collins, I owe no small debt of gratitude for all that I
learned in Austin. I thank Bruce Huckell for all his assistance and encouragement over
these many years.
I am extremely grateful to the various organizations that provided funding for this
research: Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society Research, Institute for the Study of
Planet Earth, Argonaut Archaeological Research Fund (University of Arizona Foundation)
established by Joe and Ruth Cramer; the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia and
the special project granted by Laura Pescador. My gratitude to Mike Brack and Bill Doelle
from Desert Archaeology, Inc. for making the topographic maps for Fin del Mundo. To all
my professors: Paul Fish, Suzy Fish, Karen Adams, Owen Davis, Alejandro Pastrana,
Gianfranco Cassiano, Jane Hill, John Olsen, Barbara Mills, Tom Sheridan, Robert Cobean,
and Manuel Gándara. To the Sonorenses, Leopoldo Velez, Ing. Bustamante, Manuel and
Julian Robles and Fernando Tapia for sharing information and providing assistance over
the years. I am especially grateful to Don Gustavo Placencia for his hospitality and
friendship.
Finally, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to the many people who have
collaborated and contributed over the years with the investigations. In the 2003 field work
season, Puin Morales and Natalia Martinez were my right hands, and I could not have
completed that field seasons’ activities without them. INAH archaeologists, Jupiter
Martinez and Cristina Garcia, also provided valuable assistance. Seven students from the
Universidad de las Américas,Puebla; Carmen Caelen, Karime Castillo, José Manuel López,
Melissa Santoyo, Paloma Diez, Josué Gómez and Víctor Blanco also participated in the
fieldwork. I also wish to thank the workmen from the town of Carbó and the ladies of the
restaurant for their aid. The 2005 season at El Aigame, with temperatures of 50 degrees
centigrade, was the most difficult season of all; Alberto “Beto” Peña and Denise
Carpinteyro were exceptionally good sports and made this physically taxing field season
possible. Edmund Gaines collaborated with us for a couple of weeks and kindly lent us the
use his truck for the first week until the Centro INAH Sonora truck became available. In the
2007 season, Edmund Gaines and Beto Peña returned to collaborate with me when we all
found el Fin del Mundo site. Beto found the crucial Clovis point that revealed the affiliation
and the site importance; to them I will always be grateful for their hard work and
contributions to the project. My appreciation and gratitude goes with Edmund Gaines for
running the field work at Fin del Mundo and all his assistance in taking several of the
photographs and making the final drafts of some of the drawings that we made during the
2007 and 2008 field seasons.
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DEDICATION
A Juancho Carpintero “alma de mi alma” por caminar la vida mano a mano a través de las
décadas. A Nene y Tavo quienes me hicieron como soy, me enseñaron la vida y siempre me
han concedido su apoyo y confianza incondicional. Al profesor Julio Montané, Vance
Haynes, y Julian Hayden; Pioneros del fascínate mundo de los primeros pobladores de
América, ellos dejaron las huellas del camino que yo continuo.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES…………………………………………………………………..
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LIST OF TABLES……………………………….…………………………………...
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ABSTRACT…………………………………….…………………………………….
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CHAPTER 1. THE FIRST AMERICANS AND CLOVIS INVESTIGATION IN
SONORA ……………………………………………………………………….……..
Of Paradigms and Parapets: Evidences of the First Americans ……….….………
Statement of Purpose ………………………………………………………..……….
Organization of the Work ……………………………………………………………
CHAPTER 2. THE LATE PLEISTOCENE/EARLY HOLOCENE PEOPLES OF
MEXICO: HISTORY OF INVESTIGATIONS, THE ARCHAEOLOGY RECORD
AND A CRITICAL REVIEW ………………………………………………………….
Antediluvian Men in Mexico and the Nineteenth Century Finds …………………
Mammoths, Man and the Quaternary Geology of the Basin of Mexico ……….…
Mammoth and Human in Tepexpan ……………………………………
The Articulated Mammoths of Santa María Iztapan I and II ………….
Los Reyes Acozac Mammoth ……………………………………………
Mammoth of San Bartolo Atepehuacan ………………………………..
Lake Texcoco Mammoth…………………………………………………
Santa Lucia I: Mammoths and Pleistocene Fauna ……………………..
Tocuila Locality …………………………………………………………
Miscellaneous Archaeological Record of the First Mexicans …………..…………
The Tlapacoya Site………………………………………………..………
The Valsequillo Reservoir, Puebla………………………………………..
El Cedral, San Luis Potosi …………………………………………..……
Archaeological Project “El Poblamiento de América visto desde la Isla
del Espíritu Santo, Baja California Sur” ………………………………….
Directly Dated Human Bones from Mexico………………………………
Early Man at the Yucatan Peninsula………………………………………
Ocozocoautla, Chiapas (Los Grifos and Santa Marta Caves)……….……
Gila Naquitz, Oaxaca………………………………………………………
Clovis, Folsom and Other Diagnostic Points of the North American Sequence in
México ………………………………………………………………………………...
The Clovis Presence in México …………………………………....….…
Baja California ……….………………………………………
West Mexico ………….………………………………………
The Clovis Occupation in Northeast Hidalgo, Mexico ...........
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TABLE OF CONTENTS – Continued
Clovis in Oaxaca …………………………………………………………
Isolated Clovis Finds …………………………………………….………
Los Primeros Mexicanos: Of the archaeological data, and some propositions a
propos of the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene occupation of México ……………
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CHAPTER 3. FRAMEWORKS FOR SONORAN EARLY PREHISTORY …....
The Sonoran Landscape ………………………………………………………..……
The Environmental Setting of the Sonoran Landscape ……………………………
The Sonoran Desert Province……………………………………………
Lower Colorado River Valley Subprovince. …………………………....
The Arizona Uplands Subprovince………………………………….…..
Plains of Sonora Subprovince. ……………………………………………
The Central Goulf Coast Province………………………………………
The Southern Coastal Belt Province ………………………………….…
Sierra Madre Occidental Province……………………………………….
History of Paleo-Indian and Archaic Research in Sonora…………………………
Regional Cultural-Historical Chronology of Sonora……………………………….
Early Paleo-Indian Occupation of Sonora ………………………….…..
Late Paleo-Indian/Archaic Occupations ………………………………..
Early Holocene Archaic Period Occupations ……………………….….
The San Dieguito/Malpais Complex. …………………………………..
Tapering Stem Point Styles …………………………………………….
Middle Holocene/Altithermal Archaic Traditions ……………………..
Late Archaic/Early Agriculture Period………………………………….
Discussion …………………………………………………………………
The Clovis Record in the Regions Surrounding Sonora …………………………...
Arizona ……………………………………………………………………
New Mexico ………………………………………………………………
Texas ………………………………………………………………………
Summary of the Clovis Record in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas……..
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CHAPTER 4. GEOARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH AT PALEO-INDIAN
SITES IN SONORA ………………………………………………............................
The El Bajio Site (SON K:1:3)……………………………………………………….
Locus 20 (Vitrified Basalt Quarry)………………………………………..
Locus 1 ……………………………………………………………………
Locus 2 ……………………………………………………………………
Complex of Loci 3, 4, 5, 6 y 15 located west of Cerro Rojo………………
Locus 7…………………………………………………………………….
Locus 8 ……………………………………………………………………
Locus 10…………………………………………………………………..
Locus 11…………………………………………………………………..
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TABLE OF CONTENTS – Continued
Locus 12……………………………………………………………….…
Excavations at the Locus 12 Lithic workshop…………….…
Locus 19 ………………………………………………………………...
Locus 22…………………………………………………………………
El Bajio Site: Summary and Conclusions of the Investigations……….
The El Aígame Site (SON N:11:20)………………………………………………….
The Investigations………………………………………………………..
Summary of the Investigations at El Aígame……………………………
El Gramal Site (SON N:11:20-21)…………………………………………………...
The Geoarcheological Investigations…………………………………….
Stratigraphy and Geochronology of El Gramal……………………………
Cerro Izabal (SON J:16:8) ………………………………………………………..…
The Fin del Mundo Site (SON J: 10:2)………………………………………………
The Explorations…………………………………………………………..
Locus 1 (Hunting/Butchering of Pleistocene Fauna)……………………
Locus 5 (Paleo-Indian Encampments)…………………………………..
Quartz Crystal Quarry……………………………………………………..
Summary…………………………………………………………………..
El Aguajito (SON K:15:1)…………………………………………………………….
Las Peñitas (SON O:12:1)…………………………………………………………….
Rancho Bojorquez/Km17……………………………………………………………..
Cueva El Tetabejo…………………………………………………………………….
Chinobampo…………………………………………………………………………...
Understanding the Paleo-Indian Occupation of Sonora……………………………
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CHAPTER 5. CLOVIS LITHIC TECHNOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION AND
RESOURCE PROCURMENT AT EL BAJÍO ……………………..………………
Sonoran Raw Material Sources for Tool making…………………………………...
El Bajío Vitrified Basalt Quarry of Cerro La Vuelta………………………
Obsidian Sources…………………………………………………………
Quartz Crystal Sources ……………………………………………………
Fine Rhyolite Quarry……………………………………………………..
Quartzite Cobbles from the Arroyos………………………………….….
Chalcedony/Chert Sources………………………………………………
The Sonoran Clovis Lithic Technology: A View from El Bajío……………………
Rock Patina on El Bajío Basalt Tools…………………………………...
Analytical Method and the Sample………………………………………
The Clovis Blade Technology in Sonora…………………………………………….
Sonora Blade Industry…………………………………………………….
Conical Cores……………………………………………………………...
Core Tablet Flake………………………………………………………….
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TABLE OF CONTENTS – Continued
Wedge-shaped cores……………………………………………………….
Crested Blades……………………………………………………………..
Platform Preparation Flakes ………………………………………………
Blade Core Error Recovery Flake…………………………………………
Primary Cortex Blades…………………………………………………….
Non Cortex Blades with Prior Blade Scar…………………………………
Prismatic Blades…………………………………………………………...
Unifacial Retouched Tools …………………………………………………………...
End scrapers ……………………………………………………………….
Side scrapers……………………………………………………………….
Composite Scraper…………………………………………………………
Denticulate Scraper………………………………………………………...
Circular scrapers…………………………………………………………...
Notched tools ……………………………………………………………...
Gravers ………………………………………………………………….…
Bifacial Technology……………………………………………………………….…..
Primary Bifaces……………………………………………………………
Secondary bifaces…………………………………………………………
Clovis Points and Preforms ……………………………………………….
Clovis Preforms……………………………………………….
Clovis Points………………………………………………….
Square-Based Bifaces………………………………………………….…..
Bifacial Drills…………………………………………………………….
Overshot Flakes……………………………………………………………
Miscellaneous Cores and Core-tools…………………………………………………
Hammers and Abraders………………………………………………………………
Sonoran Clovis Lithic Technological Organization ……………………………......
Site Localities and Specialized Activity Areas……………………………
Sonoran Clovis Foragers Group Interactions and Land-Use………………
Technological Inferences and Comparisons with other Clovis Industries
Biface Industry ………………………………………………..
Blade Industry ………………………………………………...
End Scrapers ………………………………………………….
Final Considerations……………………………………………………….
CHAPTER 6. REGIONAL AND PANREGIONAL INTEGRATION AND
INTERACCION OF THE SONORAN CLOVIS GROUPS……………………….
Land Use, Demography, Territory and Timing of the Sonoran Clovis Culture….
The Sonoran Lithic Industry in the Clovis World………………………………….
Clovis Interaction and Integration between the Regions ………………….............
REFERENCE CITED ………………………………………………..……...............
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LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 2.1. Location of Mammoths finds in the basin of Mexico (modified form
Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a, figure 84, 124) .34……………………………………
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Figure 2.2. Mammoth at Santa Isabel Iztapan I (from Lorenzo and Mirambell 1985,
figure 8, 41)…………………………………………………………………………….
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Figure 2.3. Photograph of the excavation of the mammoth Iztapan I (from Lorenzo
and Mirambell 1986a: figure 12, 44)…………………………………………………..
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Figure 2.4. Artifacts associated with the Santa Isabel Iztapan I mammoth (Lorenzo
and Mirambell 1986a, fig 9,42)………………………………………………………..
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Figure 2.5. Photograph of the excavation of Isabel II (from Lorenzo and Mirambell
1986a: fig 17, 49)………………………………………………………………………. 43
Figure 2.6. Santa Isabel Iztapan II Mammoth (from Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a:
fig.14, 47)………………………………………………………………………………
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Figure 2.7. Artifacts associated with the Santa Isabel Iztapan mammoth II …....
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Figure 2.8. Los Reyes Acozac Mammoth (Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a: Figure 21,
pag.59)…………………………………………………………………………………. 48
Figure 2.9. Photographs of mammoth of Acozac (from Lorenzo and Mirambell
1986a: fig 22, 54)……………………………………………………………………….
Figure 2.10. Flakes associated to the mammoth (from Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a:
fig 25, 55)………………………………………………………………………………
Figure 2.11. Drawing of San Bartolo Atepehuecan mammoth with flakes (Lorenzo
and Mirambell 1986a; figure28, pag.59)………………………………………………
Figure 2.12. Excavation of the Mammoth of San Bartolo Atepehuecan (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a; figure30, pag.60) …………………………………………………..
Figure 2.13. Excavation in process at the Lake Texcoco Mammoth (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a; figure60, pag.97)……………………………………………………
Figure 2.14. Mammoth excavated at Santa Lucia I (Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a;
figure 70, pag.107)……………………………………………………………………...
Figure 2.15. Profile of Santa Lucia I (Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a; figure 69,
pag.106)…………………………………………………………………………….…..
Figure 2.16. Fotograph of the El Batequi Clovis Points ………………………………
Figure 2.17. Obsidian Clovis point curated at the Museo Regional de Guadalajara......
Figure 2.18. Obsidian Clovis point curated at the Museo Regional de Guadalajara......
Figure 2.19. Oyapa Clovis points. Photograph courtesy of Gianfranco Cassiano……..
Figure 2.20. Clovis points from Oaxaca, photograph courtesy of Marcus Winter…….
Figure 2.21. Illustration of the Plainview point at Cueva de los Grifos……………….
Figure 2.22. Plainview base at Mesa de Las Tapias, photograph courtesy of Jose Luis
Punzo…………………………………………………………………………………...
Figure 3.1 The Sonoran Landscape and Sites ………………………………………
Figure 3.2. Physiographic provinces of Sonora (from Carpenter et al. 2008)…………
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LIST OF FIGURES -- Continued
Figure 3.3 Possible Dalton point from Sonora (photo by E. Gaines)…………………..
Figure 3.4. Schematic x-section of the depositional history at the Malpais Locality …
Figure 3.5. Tapering Steam points from SON K:O:1…………………………………
Figure 4.1. Distribution of sites and localities in Sonora Sites (modified from
www.hermosillohistoria.com)........................................................................................
Figure 4.2. Regional Topography surrounding the site………………………………...
Figure 4.3. Topographic Location of the El Bajío Site (INEGI 1:50,00 San Jeronimo..
Figure 4.4. Location of the El Bajio Site Loci (Modified from INEGI map La Poza
1:50.000)………………………………………………………………………………..
Figure 4.5. View of Cerro de La Vuelta and Locus 20 from Locus 5………………….
Figure 4.6. El Bajío vitrified basalt raw material………………………………………
Figure 4.7. Lithic Waste Dump at Locus 20……………………………………………
Figure 4.8. Sketch Map of Locus 20…………………………………………………...
Figure 4.9. Sketch Map of Locus 1…………………………………………………….
Figure 4.10. Locus 2 Sketch Map………………………………………………………
Figure 4.11. Topographic Map of Loci 3-6 and 15 with the location of test trenches ...
Figure 4.12. View to the northeast of Loci 3, 4, 5, 6 and 15…………………………...
Figure 4.13. Clovis preform at Locus 3………………………………………………...
Figure 4.14. Bifaces at Locus 3………………………………………………………...
Figure 4.15. Locus 15 Sketch Map……………………………………………………..
Figure 4.16. Map of the rock feature excavated ……………………………………….
Figure 4.17. Profile of Trench 6………………………………………………………..
Figure 4.18. Locus 4 Sketch Map………………………………………………………
Figura 4.19. South profiles of trench 1 in Locus 4……………………………………..
Figura 4.20. South profile of Trench 5…………………………………………………
Figure 4.21. Locus 5 Sketch Map………………………………………………………
Figure 4.22. Excavated Horno 50………………………………………………………
Figure 4.23. Plan view of the feature 1 in locus 5……………………………………..
Figure 4.24. Highly eroded Proboscidian molar ………………..……………………..
Figure 4.25. Locus 6 Sketch Map………………………………………………………
Figure 4.26. Red chert end-scraper similar to one at Murray Spring site in Arizona.
Figure 4.27. Profiles the trench 8 in Locus 6…………………………………………...
Figure 4.28. Locus 7 Sketch Map………………………………………………………
Figura 4.29. . Generalized profile of Trench 10…………...…………………………...
Figure 4.30. Locus 8 Sketch Map………………………………………………………
Figure 4.31. Clovis Preform collected at Locus 8……………………………………..
Figure 4.32. Locus 10 Sketch Map……………………………………………………..
Figure 4.33. End scrapers from Locus 10……………………………………………...
Figure 4.34. Locus 11 Sketch Map……………………………………………………..
Figura 4.35.Generalized profile of trench 2……………………………….…………..
Figure 4.36. East Profile of Trench 2…………………………………………………..
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LIST OF FIGURES -- Continued
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Figure 4.37. Generalized profile trench 4………….…………………………………..
Figure 4.38. Horno 102 in locus 11, C14 date (A-15395 = 315+/-40) ………………..
Figure 4.39. View of Locus 12, southwest from Cerro la Vuelta……………………..
Figure 4.40. Topographic view of the excavation at Locus 12 ………………………..
Figure 4.41. Square-based Bifaces from the excavation of Locus 12 workshop……...
Figure 4.42. Artifacts found at feature 2 in Locus 12………………………………….
Figure 4.43. Hearth in Locus 12………………………………………………………..
Figure 4.44. Locus 19 Sketch Map…………………………………………………….
Figure 4.45. Locus 22 sketch map……………………………………………………..
Figure 4.46. View northeast of the site from the Cerro La Vuelta Quarry……………
Figure 4.47.View North of Locus 3 of El Gramal……………………………………..
Figure 4.48. Bustamante Mammoth Molars from El Gramal …………………………
Figure 4.49.Location of Loci and excavations ………………………………………..
Figure 4.50. Locus1 features……………………………………………….…………..
Figure 4.51. Red quartzite biface………………………………………………………
Figure 4.52. Chert Biface……………………………………………………………...
Figure 4.53. Abrader in quartz………………………………………………………..
Figure 4.54. Archaic bifaces in Locus 2 ….…………………………………………...
Figure 4.55. Profile of the arroyo adjacent to Locus 2………………………………..
Figure 4.56. Clovis preform and point from Locus 3 (Bustamante collection)………
Figure 4.57. Red quartz Lanceolate point from Locus 3 (Bustamente collection)……
Figure 4.58. End scrapers from Locus 3 (Bustamente Collection)……………………
Figure 4.59. Clovis base at Locus 3 in El Aigame ……………..……………………
Figure 4.60. Profile of test pit 5, with location of pollen profile and C14 date………..
Figure 4.61. Profile 1 at Locus 4 …….………………………………………………...
Figure 4.62. Red ochre source………………………………………………………….
Figure 4.63. Playa at El Gramal ……………………………………………………..
Figure 4.64. Aerial photograph showing El Gramal site and localities ……………….
Figure 4.65. Quartz crystal Clovis point from El Gramal …………………………..
Figure 4.66. Generalized x-section of trench 1 in Locus 1 …………………………..
Figure 4.67. Probably fluted biface on basalt ……………………………………….
Figure 4.68. Ned Gaines and Beto Peña digging a test pit with an auger …………..
Figure 4.69. Flakes found at 3.5 meters in auger pit ………….………………….….
Figure 4.70. Generalized Stratigraphy of El Gramal (Gaines et al. 2009)………..……
Figure 4.71. Clovis point from Cerro Izabal…………………………………………..
Figure 4.72. View of In-filled Basin at Cerro Izabal…………………………………
Figure 4.73. View of the “Island” Locus 1……………………………………………
Figure 4.74. Artifacts found associated with Locus 1………………………………….
Figure 4.75. Generalized x-section from the Fin del Mundo site ……………………
Figure 4.76. Topographic Map of Locus 1……………………………………………..
Figure 4.77. Stratigraphy of Locus 1…………………………………………………..
Figure 4.78. Gonphotherium sp. I and II in upper bone bed.....…….…………..…….
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LIST OF FIGURES -- Continued
Figure 4.79. Artifacts with the bones in upper bone bed……………………………...
Figure 4.80. Clovis points and performs ………………………………………………
Figure 4.81. Clovis end scrapers……………………………………………………….
Figure 4.82. Core Rejuvenation Tablet flake………………………………………….
Figure 4.83. Blades from Locus 5 .……………………………………………………
Figure 4.84. Quartz crystal cores and flakes in Cerro del Cuarzo …………………….
Figure 4.85. Clovis point and later Paleo-Indian points from El Aguajito
(Velez Collection)……………………………………………………………………...
Figure 4.86. A view from El Aguajito………………………………………………….
Figure 4.87. El Aguajito profile 1 with cienega deposits and C14 dates………………
Figure 4.88. Clovis point collected at Las Peñitas……………………………………..
Figure 4.89. Fluted Points from Rancho Bojorquez (Velez Collection)……………….
Figure 4.90. View of the Rancho Bojorquez site………………………………………
Figure 4.91. Clovis point from Tetabejo Cave………………………………………...
Figure 5.1. Raw materials at the Study Area (geologic map modified from a map
online of the Sistema Geologico Mexicano, www.coremisgm.gob.mx)........................
Figure 5.2. Location of the quarry at El Bajío …………………………………………
Figure 5.3. Lithic industry from El Bajío………………………………………………
Figure 5.4. Conical core from El Bajío at the Museo Universitario in Hermosillo…….
Figure 5.5. Core Industry: Core tablet flakes in the left corner, wedge shaped core in
the left lower corner, crested blades in the up right corner and blades ………………..
Figure 5.6. Core tablet flake at Fin del Mundo ……………………... ………………..
Figure 5.7. Wedge shaped core (bag no 37550)……………………………………….
Figure 5.8. Prismatic Blades……………………………………………………………
Figure 5.9. Prismatic blade. ……………………………………………………………
Figure 5.10. Hafted scrapers from Cuatro Cienegas, Coahuila………………………...
Figure 5.11. End scrapers from El Bajío……………………………………………….
Figure 5.12. Fin del Mundo end scrapers………………………………………………
Figure 5.13. End scraper in Locus 6, similar to Murray Spring Site, Arizona…………
Figure 5.14. Side scraper on quartz crystal…………………………………………….
Figure 5.15. Circular scraper from Locus 12…………………………………………..
Figure 5.16. Graver……………………………………………………………………..
Figure 5.17. Primary Bifaces…………………………………………………………...
Figure 5.18. Secondary Bifaces ………………………….…………………………….
Figure 5.19. Examples of Clovis preforms with channel flute…………………………
Figure 5.20. Drawings of the Clovis prefroms in above picture …………………...….
Figure 5.21. Clovis point at the Museo Municiapl de Carbó ………………………….
Figure 5.22. Clovis base found in 2003 ……………………………..………………...
Figure 5.23. Comparison between basal wide and maximum wide of square-based b..
Figure 5.24. Square-based bifaces excavated at Locus 12……………………………..
Figure 5.25. Drawing of the bifaces in figure 5.31…………………………………….
Figure 5.26. Bifacial Drills……………………………………………………………..
Figure 5.27. Overshot Flakes…………………………………………………………..
221
224
224
225
225
226
228
229
231
232
233
234
235
243
245
253
258
260
261
262
269
269
273
274
274
275
278
281
283
286
288
291
292
294
294
297
298
299
300
300
14
LIST OF FIGURES – Continued
Figure 5.28. Hammers………………………………………………………………….
Figure 5.29 Distribution of Clovis tools at the sites (Locus in red).………………..…
Figure 5.30. Non local raw materials vs El Bajío basalt……………………………….
Figure 5.31.Tools from El Bajio and Fin del Mundo, made with the same
chert/chalcedony………………………………………………………………………..
Figure 5.32. Primary bifaces, secondary bifaces (in red) and Clovis performs wides ...
Figure 5.33. Comparison of basal outline of the Bifaces…………..………………….
Figure 5.34. Blades lengths….………………………………………………………...
Figure 5.35. Blades widths ……………………………………………………………
303
306
308
310
312
313
314
315
15
LIST OF TABLES
Table 2.1. Selected Radiocarbon dates reported by Jarumi Fujita (2007; 2008)………
Table 2.2. Radiocarbon Dates reported in Gonzalez et al. 2006……………………….
Table 2.3. Radiocarbon dates from Santa Marta and Los grifos Caves ……………….
Table 3.1. The Clovis archaeological record of the San Pedro Valley…………………
Tabla 4.1. Cultural Affiliation of the Loci at El Bajío………………………………...
Table 4.2. Radiocarbon dates from El Bajío…………………………………………...
Table 4.3. Cultural Affiliation of the Loci identified at El Aigame……………………
Table 4.4. Radiocarbon Dates from El Aigame………………………………………..
Table 4.5. Lithic classes in locus 1, feature at El Aigame .…………………………….
Table 4.6. Artifacts from Locus 2 at El Aigame……………………………………….
Table 4.7. Radiocarbon dates from Locus 1 at Fin del Mundo………………………..
Table 5.1. The patina at El Bajío Stone Tools…………………………………………
Table 5.2. Lithic Industry from El Bajío……………………………………………….
Table 5.3. Clovis Blade Industry Artifacts from El Bajío……………………………..
Table 5.4. Conical Cores from El Bajío………………………………………………..
Table 5.5. Core tablet Flakes…………………………………………………………...
Table 5.6. Wedge-shape cores………………………………………………………….
Table 5.7. Crested Blades………………………………………………………………
Table 5.8. Platform Preparation Flakes………………………………………………...
Table 5.9. Blade Core Error Recovery Flakes………………………………………….
Table 5.10. Primary cortex blades……………………………………………………...
Table 5.11. Non Cortex Blades………………………………………………………...
Table 5.12. Prismatic Blades from El Bajío……………………………………………
Table 5.13. Unifacial tools……………………………………………………………..
Table 5.14. End scrapers Attributes……………………………………………………
Table 5.15. Backed side scrapers……………………………………………………....
Table 5.16. Composite scraper…………………………………………………………
Table 5.17. Denticulated Scraper………………………………………………………
Table 5.18. Circular Scrapers. …………………………………………………………
Table 5.19. Notched tools………………………………………………………………
Table 5.20. Gravers…………………………………………………………………….
Table 5.21. Bifacial Industry…………………………………………………………..
Table 5.22. Primary Bifaces……………………………………………………………
Table 5.23. Secondary Bifaces…………………………………………………………
Table 5.24. Clovis Preforms attributes…………………………………………………
Table 5.25. Clovis Points……………………………………………………………….
Table 5.26. Square-based points and knives from El Bajío……………………………
Table 5.27. Overshot flakes…………………………………………………………….
65
66
68
119
134
136
184
184
188
190
216
250
253
257
258
259
262
263
264
265
266
267
270
272
275
278
280
280
281
282
283
284
285
287
290
293
296
301
16
LIST OF TABLES --Continued
Table 5.28. Miscellaneous nuclei………………………………………..…………….
Table 5.29. Hammers and Abraders……………………………………………………
Table 5.30. Spatial Distribution of the El Bajio Lithic Technology…………………...
Table 5.31. Distribution of the Lithic Industries by artifact classes at the site loci…....
302
302
305
307
17
ABSTRACT
The archaeological record of the first Americans in Mexico is poorly known and somewhat
confusing. However, the state of Sonora presents a remarkably pristine setting for studying
the late Pleistocene occupation of North America. The early archaeological record in
Sonora is stunning in terms of its relative abundance and only within the past ten years has
this fact become evident. The Paleo-Indian sites are concentrated in north-central Sonora
on and surrounding, the Llanos de Hermosillo. The settlement pattern appears to indicate
that Clovis groups were generalized hunter and gatherers that exploited a wide range of
environments, and their diet was based upon a wide variety of foodstuffs. The Clovis
groups of Sonora developed a sophisticated settlement pattern and land use determined by
the location of lithic sources for tool making, water sources, large prey animals and a
mosaic of edible plants and small animals. Exploiting an extensive territory probably
permitted them to remain in the same region for longer periods of time. The presence of
only few late Paleo-Indian diagnostic points could represent the decrease of population
density in Sonora, but most likely it is an indication that after Clovis a regionalization of
the hunter and gather groups took place in Sonora. The Sonoran Clovis occupation is a
testimony that multiple regional Clovis adaptations emerged each with specific responses
of plants, animals and resources.
18
CHAPTER 1
THE FIRST AMERICANS AND CLOVIS INVESTIGATION IN SONORA
No se puede escapar de ser juzgado por hombre temerario y muy arrojado el que
se atreva a prometer lo cierto del primer origen de los indios, y de los primeros
hombres que poblaron las indias (José de Acosta 1592: chapter XXIV)
The Jesuit priest, Jose de Acosta wrote in his 1592 chronicles about his puzzlement over
man’s origin in to the New World. One the one hand, it was clear that the Native
Americans shared the same human origin as people in the Old World. On the other hand,
how and when people inhabited the Americas and developed complex societies, such as
the Incas and the Aztecs, were unknown. To begin to answer these questions, Acosta,
proposed a land bridge connecting Asia with the New World must have existed, making it
possible for humans to cross and inhabit the New World (Acosta 1592, book 1, Chapter
XX).
Four hundred years later, the peopling of the Americas is one of the more
fascinating themes in the archaeology of the American Continent (Stanford 1991;
Tankersley 2000). However the archaeological community is still highly divided with
respect to the antiquity of many proclaimed early sites and the timing of the entry of
humans into the New World (Dillehay 1989, 1997; Dillehay et al. 1999; Frison 2000;
Fiedel 1999b, 2000b; Haynes 1999; Kelly and Todd 1988; Meltzer 1989, 1995; Owen
1984; Stanford 1991; Waters 2000). Presently, the only universal consensus is that the
first Americans were definitely Homo sapiens and they were present in the Americas by
at least 11,500 radiocarbon years ago (Meltzer 1995:1).
19
Of Paradigms and Parapets: Evidences of the First Americans
In 1927 near the town of Folsom, New Mexico; a spectacular discovery forever altered
the history of the American Continent. Karl Schwachheim working for paleontologists
Harold Cook and Jesse Figgings were excavating a complete specimen of Bison antiquus
of late Pleistocene age when, wedged between two ribs of the specimen, they discovered
a stunning lanceolate, fluted projectile point (Cook 1927, 1928; Figgins 1927), and
providing forceful evidence that humans were on the American continent during ice age
times, together with extinct animals. In 1933, Eduard B. Howard (1935) began
excavations near Clovis, New Mexico in a locality with extinct fauna with fluted points,
near Clovis, New Mexico, later on several localities of bison and mammoth with
associated fluted points were found. Following the invention of radiocarbon dating, the
fluted points found at Clovis resulted to be about 500 years earlier than the Folsom points
(Haynes 1964; Damon et al. 1964; Holliday 2005:264).
Once it was established that humans arrived in the Americas during the
Pleistocene, sites containing megafauna with associated artifacts begin to appear
everywhere (Holliday 2005; Meltzer 1989:477). During the next 70 years that followed
the discovery of Folsom, sites analogous to Folsom and Clovis were found all over North
America in areas where the ice sheet was not present (Collins 1999a: 35; Faught 1996;
Anderson et al. 1998). At the same time, over 100 localities have been proclaimed to be
sites of great antiquity, much older that the Clovis occupation (Taylor 2009:183). Each of
these sites has eventually been discounted as reflecting early sites as they do not present
the minimum requirements suggested for determining early sites: 1) Sites with diagnostic
20
projectile point types that can be correlated with the North American Paleo-Indian
sequence; 2) sites where stone tools have been found in association with extinct
Pleistocene fauna; 3) human bones directly dated; and 4) the few sites where the
relationship between the artifacts and the stratigraphy can be clearly demonstrated.
(Haynes 1969:714; Dincauze 1984; Waters 1985:125).
Ever since the discovery of Folsom and Clovis, interest in the peopling of the
American continent by the scientific community has not waned, and continues to be one
of the most popular topics for a wide range of sciences and researchers. Archaeologists,
anthropologists, biologists, linguists, paleontologists, and researchers from all branches of
the geosciences, have been involve in exploring and studying artifacts, genes, bones,
soils, feces, languages, foot prints, nanodiamonds, and all kind of biological remains.
Many diverse and sometimes contradictory models and theories concerning the First
Americans have been developed. These include meteorites, transatlantic travels, chasing
mammoth and climatic changes, among others.
The time proposed for the arrival of the first Americans is extremely variable,
ranging from 200,000, 40,000, 25,000, 20,000, 14,000 and 11,500 years ago. Yearly,
abundant information regarding the first Americans is produced and reported; open the
cover of the last number of any academic journal related to anthropology and quaternary
science, you will find one or two articles concerning the peopling of the Americas.
Although, a profuse body of information exists, the scientist are far from reaching a
scientific consensus in the principal inquiries; when, how and who were the First
Americans (Barton et al. 2004; Dillehay 2000. 2008; Fiedel 2000a; Kelley 2003; Meltzer
21
1989, 1995, 2005; Taylor 2009; Waguespack 2007; Yesner et al. 2004). The narrative of
the First Americans is still in a very speculative stage, although some narratives are more
testable than others; the paucity of the archaeological data that finally has to be use to tell
the story of the First Americans make this mission even harder, in the last 20 years, very
few sites have been found that can help out to prove or disprove any of the tentative
models.
While there are a myriad of models based on all kinds of evidence, some are more
plausible than others. An almost universal consensus among scholars is that the
progenitors of the American societies came to the American continent from northern
Asia, crossing Beringia (Barton et al. 2004; Elias 2000; Fiedel 2004; Hoffecker et al.
1993; Kelley 2003; Meltzer 1993; Schoeder et al. 2009). The Beringia land bridge now
appears to have been exposed until ca. 10,000 ryBP (Elias 2000). Recent genetic studies
appear to indicate that the different groups of American Indians are descended from the
same Beringia population (Schoeder et al. 2009). Similarly, the observable linguistic
diversity in the New World must have been developed from the radiation of only a few
founder languages (Greenberg 1987; Hill 2004; Nichols1990).
However, there is no consensus with respect to how the first Americans moved to
the interior of the continent and to the south. There are currently two principal proposals:
1) crossing through the corridor without ice that existed between the Laurentide and
Cordilleran ice sheets (Rutter 1980; Hoffecker et al 1993; West 1996); or 2) navigating
the Pacific coast utilizing boats (Bryan and Guhn 2003; Fladmark 1978; Surovell 2003).
Within the supposed ice-free corridor, the existence of sites older than 10,000 years has
22
proved difficult to demonstrate, although, as yet, this appears to be the more logical
hypothesis (Fiedel 2000:57; Wasguespak 2007; but see West 1996:380). The navigation
of the Pacific route with boats has not been investigated in detail, but it remains a logical
possibility, as humans arrived in Australia by boat approximately 38,000 years ago (or
earlier) (Mulvaney and Kamminga 1999). A recent study in Eliza Cave on Vancouver
Island provided a stratigraphic record of the maximum glacial, and indicates that tundra
with few trees and small animals were present by around 16,000 cyBP; by circa 13,000
cyBP the de-glaciation had begun, and foodstuffs for the early sailors was probably
available by then (Al-Suwaidi et al. 2006). However, no archaeological sites from this
time period has been reported at the island, and on the coast of California and Oregon, no
sites earlier than 11,000 cyBP have been found (Yesner et al. 2004:197). Advocates of
this hypothesis assume that the sites are below the current sea level and this is the only
reason such early remains have not been found (Bryan and Gruhn 2003; Fedje 1999;
Dixon 1999; Punke and Davis 2006). Although, archaeological data has yet to be found to
confirm each of the models, the two hypotheses are both plausible and there is hope that
supporting archaeological evidence will we found in the near future.
Up to the present, it has not been possible to unequivocally demonstrate that
humans existed in North America before 12,000 cyBP. Today, the site with the greatest
potential for an occupation prior to 12,000 cyBP is Cactus Hill, in Virginia. Occupation
represented by flakes and triangular points has been reported stratigraphically beneath a
Clovis horizon and may have an antiquity of 16,000 cyBP (McAvoy and McAvoy 1997;
McAvoy 2000). However, geoarchaeological and stratigraphic studies still are in process
23
and until they are fully report, Cactus Hill remains a tantalizing hint (Feathers et al.
2006).
Elsewhere in the Americas, a few sites suggest great antiquity. One of these is
Monte Verde, in the southern tip of Chile. One occupation (Monte Verde II) at this multicomponent, stratified site has more that eleven dates averaging 12,500 cyBP, 1000 years
earlier than Clovis. The site contained a sophisticated array of artifacts for an early site;
textiles, seeds, wood, charcoal, bone and lithic tools. The lithic industry present at Monte
Verde, is not related to the Clovis industry of North America (Dillehay 1989, 1997;
Dinacuze 1991; Meltzer 1993; Meltzer et al. 1997; Taylor 2009). Although the antiquity
of Monte Verde was corroborated by a dozen researchers as the earliest site in the
America continent in a review sponsored by the Wenner Gren Conference (Meltzer et al.
1997), some researchers have continued to express doubt about the site’s antiquity (Fiedel
1999b; Haynes 1999; Roosevelt 2000).
The Clovis industry is the oldest universally acknowledged unequivocal cultural
horizon in the Americas, with a time span from 11,500 to 10,800 bp (Batt and Pollard
1996; Fiedel 1999a; Haynes 1980, 1993, 2000a; Taylor et al. 1996). Several artifacts have
been identified as affiliated with the Clovis tool tradition, but the principal diagnostic
artifact is the lanceolate, fluted Clovis point (Haynes 1964; Krieger 1950a; Sellards 1952;
Wormington 1957). Specimens of this unique Clovis point have been found on the
surface of virtually the entire North American continent except in those areas where the
late Wisconsian ice sheet was present (Collins 1999a: 35; Faught 1996; Anderson et al.
1998). However, the vast majority of Clovis materials are limited to small surface scatters
24
and isolated finds of projectile points; Clovis sites with stratified sedimentary deposits are
extremely rare (Meltzer 1993). The paucity of buried deposits has made our knowledge of
the Clovis people very limited; less than a dozen sites have been radiocarbon dated, and
we know very little of Clovis subsistence, diet, mobility, land-use, territoriality and
social organization.
The central subject matter of this work is not directly related to the arrival of the
first populations to the America. However, indirectly the information obtained from our
investigations in Sonora will enlighten some aspects of the first human groups of North
America. The variability, settlement pattern, interaction and demography of the Sonora
Clovis groups reveals that about 11,000 years ago they had conquered the Sonoran
landscape, they had land use practices based upon the environmental conditions, food
acquisition, water resources and the sources for acquirement tool making lithic material
were fundamental in their residential mobility. This category of hunter and gather
adaptation cannot even be approximately duplicated in the current ethnographic record
(Kelley 1995). This fact implies that the Paleo-Indian groups were in the continent some
years before Clovis became evident in the archaeological record.
Statement of Purpose
The international border between Mexico and the U.S. is commonly used to define the
southern limits of the Clovis complex. The Clovis occupation south of the border in
Mexico is virtually unknown, with published reports limited to a few isolated finds of
projectile points ranging from Sonora to Chiapas (Aschmann 1952; Cassiano and
25
Vásquez 1990; Di Peso 1965; García Bárcena 1979; García Cook 1973; Guevara 1989;
Gutierrez and Hyland 1994; Lorenzo 1953, 1964; Robles and Manzo Taylor 1972; Robles
1974). However, several well-known Clovis sites (including Naco, Lehner, and Murray
Springs) with an unusually complete record of late quaternary depositional, pedological
and erosional events, along with a comprehensive series of radiocarbon dates, are located
along the San Pedro River Valley, in southern Arizona just few kilometers north of the
international border (Haury et al. 1953, 1959; Haynes 1976, 1982, 1987, 1991; Haynes
and Huckell 2008; Hemmings 1970). Although little known, the state of Sonora exhibits
a wide distribution of Clovis points. Almost 30 years ago, Robles and Manzo (1972) and
Robles (1974) reported 11 localities with a total of 25 Clovis points. For the last 10 years
the project Geoarqueología y Tecnología Lítica de los Sitios Paleoindios de Sonora has
been examining a wide range of evidence for the Paleo-Indian Clovis presence in Sonora.
Models of Clovis subsistence and social organization have traditionally utilized
such attributes as kill sites, the small size of campsites, the low densities and apparent
homogeneity of the Clovis lithic assemblage, and their utilization of exotic fine-grained
cherts and other crypto-crystaline raw materials often obtained from quarries located at
great distances from the sites, in characterizing Clovis groups as small bands of hunters
whose diet consisted almost entirely of megafauna. These models suggest that such an
adaptive strategy would have required high logistical, residential and territorial mobility
(Haynes 1966, 1980; Jelinek 1967; Kelly 1995; Kelly and Todd 1988; Martin 1967, 1973;
Saunders 1980; Surovell 2000).
26
Recently, this portrayal of Clovis groups as restless hunters in the single-minded
quest for big-game has been questioned; alternative models suggesting that Clovis social
and economic organization likely reflected a broad spectrum of diverse adaptations and
behaviors have been proposed (Collins 1999a; Hofman 2000; Meltzer 1993, 1995;
Stanford 1991). Clovis sites have been documented in diverse ecological settings that
would seem to indicate the utilization and exploitation of a wide variety of ecological
niches, ranging from the western mountains, Great Basin, desert southwest, Great Plains,
and eastern woodlands. This wide ranging geographical diversity coupled with a period of
rapid climatic and environmental changes evident during the Late Pleistocene/Early
Holocene (Haynes 1980, 1991, 1993, 2000a, 2000b; Holliday 1997; Meltzer 1993, 1995;
Stanford 1991; Waters 2000b), suggests that Clovis groups were more likely generalist
foragers than specialized hunters (Collins 1999a:39; Hofman 2000:43; Meltzer 1993:303;
Stanford 1991:5).
Based upon the suggestion that Clovis groups were generalist foragers, this
research seeks to understand some aspects of the human adaptations of the Sonoran
Clovis hunter and gatherer groups. This investigation acknowledges the observed
geographical and technological diversity, and considers it likely that Clovis groups do not
represent a single homogeneous adaptation, but are more likely reflective of diverse
economic strategies and varied mobility patterns related to the specific regional
environments that were occupied and exploited. To examine the variability of the Sonora
Clovis group, this investigation will consider the settlement patterns reflected by the sites,
27
the reconstruction of the local stratigraphic sequences, lithic analyses and the Sonoran
landscape.
Organization of the Work
The record of the first people of Mexico is scarce and confusing, and Chapter 2 presents a
synopsis and critical review of current data. This unique summary provides an important
set of data for those scholars interested in the peopling of Mexico, and contains a wealth
of obscure data that is difficult to find in Spanish, and not available in English. Chapter 3
contains the essential framework for the early Sonora prehistory, including the Sonora
landscape, the biotic communities, the history of investigations, regional culturalhistorical chronology of Sonora, and the Clovis record in the area surrounding Sonora. In
Chapter 4, the geoarchaeological study of the Sonoran Paleo-Indian sites is presented
with information regarding the settlement pattern of the Sonora sites. Chapter 5 presents
an analytical study of the Clovis lithic technological organization of Sonora base upon the
lithic collection from El Bajio site. Finally, in Chapter 6, a summary of the state of our
current knowledge of the Paleo-Indian Archaeology of Sonora, the regional relationships
between the sites, and the future for the investigations of the first people of Sonora in
particular and Mexico in general are considered.
28
CHAPTER 2
THE LATE PLEISTOCENE/EARLY HOLOCENE PEOPLES OF MEXICO:
HISTORY OF INVESTIGATIONS, THE ARCHAEOLOGY RECORD AND A
CRITICAL REVIEW
This chapter is a synthesis of current knowledge about the first Mexicans. Despite several
significant discoveries documenting the presence of early man with extinct Pleistocene
fauna during the first half of the 20th century in North America (in Mexico or all of North
America), the Paleo-Indian period in Mexico remains little studied and poorly known.
The geographical location occupied by Mexico in the Americas identifies it a significant
region among the paradigms that try to explain how the first Americans reached the tip of
South America so early in the New World sequence (Aveleyra 1967; Frison 2000; Faught
1996; Hayden 1987; Haynes 1969; Meltzer 1989, 1995; Owen 1984; Sellars 1952,
Stanford 1991; Waters 1985; Wormington 1957).
Within the past five years, much new data on the initial occupations in Me xico has
accumulated. In order to evaluate the reported archaeological contexts of late
Pleistocene/early Holocene occupations of Mexico it is use to apply the minimum
requirements suggested by Haynes (1969) and Waters (1985:125) for determining early
sites: 1) Presence of previously documented diagnostic projectile point types or styles; 2)
Stone tools in clear association with extinct Pleistocene fauna; 3) directly dated human
bones; and 4) A demonstrated relationship between the artifacts and a well-documented
stratigraphic sequence.
These criteria for evaluation are employed in evaluating
information in each of the four sections of this chapter: 1) the nineteenth century finds; 2)
29
mammoths and humans in the Basin of México; 3) miscellaneous sites; 4) Clovis and
Folsom occupations of Mexico; and 5) a critical review of the data.
Antediluvian Men in Mexico and the Nineteenth Century Finds
The first accounts of the existence of Pleistocene man in Mexico were reported by
members of the Commission Scientifique du Mexique; a group of French antiquarians and
naturalists that were commissioned to Mexico from 1864-1867 during the years of French
intervention. Their mission was to gather information about the antique cultures of
Mexico. Eugéne Boban, Guillermin- Tarayre, and Cornel Doutrelaine were devoted to
collecting exotic archaeological and ethnographic artifacts that they later sold to
European museums. They became interested in discovering the remains of antediluvian
man in Mexico, influenced, in part, by Boucher de Perthes’ proclamation to have found
fossilized human bones with artifacts in the Pleistocene gravels of Mechecourt (Aveleyra
1964:384-385; Gullermin- Tarayre 1867; Hamy 1878; Lorenzo 1988:30; Riviale 2001).
The commission reported three possible finds of “early man” in Mexico. A crude
lanceolate biface was collected from a Quaternary fossil deposit in the locality of Cañada
de Marfil, Guanajuato; a uniface chert tool that allegedly was found in a unaltered deposit
eight meters form the actual surface in a locality famous for the abundance of fossils at
Cerro de las Palmas, in Tacubaya, in Mexico City; and an axe, that resemble the
Achuelean bifaces of the European early Paleolithic found in an alluvial deposits at the
Juchipila river in Zacatecas (Aveleyra 1964).
30
Although none of the reports made by the French commission were proven to be
valid, they did succeed in opening a new door for the study of the first Mexicans, and by
the end of the nineteenth century, Mexican geologists, paleonto logists, naturalists and
archaeologists were becoming increasingly interested in artifacts that appeared to be of
great antiquity, in paleontology, and in the discovery of human bones claimed to be
associated with Pleistocene deposits in the vicinity of Me xico City. Mariano Barcenas
and Manuel del Castillo--known as the fathers of quaternary geology and paleontology of
Mexico--were the first to study early sites and finds (Aveleyra 1964:387; Gio-Argaez y
Yunuen 2003).
In 1870, a laborer digging a well at Tequixquiac found the “modified” sacrum of a
fossilized camel in a Pleistocene deposit 12 meters beneath the surface. This deposit had a
high concentration of fossil material in a stratum known as the El Tajo Formation. The
engineer in charge of the drainage operation first gave the camelid bone to Alfredo
Chaveiro in 1880, and to Orozco y Berra in 1881, and finally, in 1882, to Mariano
Barcena. After studying the bone and the provenience, the three researchers believe that
the fossilized sacrum was an ornament carved into an animal face before the bone was
fossilized, which made it extremely old (Chaveiro 1881; Orozco y Berra 1880; Bárcena
1882; Aveleyra 1965). The geologist, Mariano Becerra, reported the important find at the
International Congress of Americanists celebrated in Mexico City in 1897, and was met
with much skepticism; his unexpected death shortly after the meetings and the misplacing
of this putative artifact for nearly 60 years, added drama to the story.
31
In 1951, Luis Aveleyra reanalyzed the sacrum and agreed with Barcena´s initial
determination that it was indeed a modified bone that had been carved before it was
fossilized (Barcena 1882). Using the drainage system map, he relocated the exact location
of the find and conducted surveys in the arroyos of Tequixquiac and collected
approximately 20 artifacts that he observed at some gravel that appear to be of the
Becerra Formation associated with the Pleistocene fossils (Aveleyra 1965, 1967). The
famous camel sacrum now is keep at the Laboratorio de Arqueozoologia at the
Subdirección de Laboratorios y Apoyo Académico and has been studied recently by
Lorena Mirambel and Oscar Polaco looking for use wear, concluding that the bone does
not reveal any indications that it was modified by human agency (Lorena Mirambell,
personal communication 2007).
Peñon de los Baños is a rocky hill located in close proximity to the Mexico City
International Airport. This locale was named “de los Baños” due to the hot springs that
emerge there. When the Spanish arrived at Tenochtitlan in 1521, the Peñon de los Baños
was then an island in lake Texcoco. As an isolated rocky hill in more or less flat terrain, el
Peñon de los Baños is a unique feature in the landscape. At least three human remains
have been recovered; all of them appear to be from late Pleistocene deposits at the site.
In 1884, human remains were found incrusted in an imbedded, well-developed
deposit during an excavation using dynamite that was carried out at the locality. Mariano
Bárcenas and Manuel Del Castillo examined the skull and carried out a detail geological
study at the locality, locating the rest of the skeleton in situ. Bárcenas and Del Castillo
(1885) reported on the geological data and affirmed that the human remains were
32
imbedded in a travertine calcareous deposit that was formed a long time ago and have a
great antiquity. The naturalist John Newberry (1885) was very skeptical about the Peñon
de los Baños discoveries and affirmed that the travertine that seals the deposits could ha ve
been formed in more recent times.
In 1958, more human bones were found at Peñon de los Baños when constructing
a road. Luis Aveleyra went to the site and found that the deposits were completely
destroyed by the road construction (Aveleyra 1967:14). Later that same year, a new
report of the discovery of human remains while excavating a well was reported (Peñon
III). This find was reported to the newly formed Departamento de Prehistoria of INAH.
Arturo Romano and Francisco Gonzalez Rull were able to reco ver a mostly complete
human skeleton at the site. Romano y Gonzalez Rull, along with Aveleyra, carried out a
detailed study of the area, including the geomorphology, stratigraphic relationships, and
the paleo- vegetation. The skeleton was located three meters from the surface in a dark
stratum sealed by a travertine deposit. Aveleyra proposed that the skeleton was of late
Pleistocene age (Aveleyra 1964, 1967; Bopp 1961).
Recently, researchers of the Dirección de Antropología Física of INAH, in
collaboration with the Liverpool John Moore University, have studied the Peñon III
skeleton found in 1958. They identified the skeleton as a 25-29 years old, long headed
women; a fragment of the humerus was directly dated, producing a radiocarbon age of
10,755+/-75 (OXA-10112) (Gonzalez et al. 2003:381; Gonzalez et al. 2006).
33
Mammoths, Man and the Quaternary Geology of the Basin of Mexico
The first written report of giants bones observed in central Mexico was recorded in Bernal
Diaz del Castillo’s chronicles (1939: 268-269). He reports the story that the Tlaxcaltecas
showed Hernan Cortes a giant femur that appears to have been buried in the ground and
served as testimony that giant people and animals existed in this land. Cortes was so
impressed with the giant bone that he sent the sample to Spain with the first lot of goods
offered to the King of Spain.
Presently, 150 mammoth finds have been reported from within the Basin of
Mexico, and at least 40 have been completely excavated (Arroyo-Cabrales et al. 2003,
2006, 2007; Carballal 1996; Garcia Barcena 1989; Johnson et al. 2006; Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1989). Only a handful of these finds show a possible evidence of association
with humans.
In February of 1952, the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia established
the Departamento de Prehistoria, under the direction of Pablo Martinez del Río. This
department consisted of Manuel Maldonado Kroeber (paleontologist), A. R. V. Arellano
(consultant stratigrapher), Jose Luis Aveleyra (archaeologist), Jose Luis Lorenzo
(archaeologist), and Arturo Romano (physical anthropologist). This departamento had
been explicitly created to investigate the earliest archaeological components of Mexico,
and was the first organization specializing in the study of the first Amer icans in North
America (Kreiger 1952b). The first investigation carried out by the Departamento de
Prehistoria was the excavations of the mammoths of Santa Isabel Iztapan under the
34
direction of Jose Luis Aveleyra (Aveleyra 1955, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1967; Ave leyra and
Maldonado-Kroeber 1953).
Jose Luis Aveleyra was instrumental in the impetus that the early man of Mexico
had during the decade of the 1950 and 1960 and the establishment of the Departamento
de Prehistoria, and served as the director from 1954-1956. Aveleyra received his
bachelor’s degree in anthropology with area of expertise in archaeology at the Escuela
Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, and a graduate degree in anthropological sciences,
and received additional paleontological training in Europe. He began his education with
Helmut de Terra, Kirk Brian and Alberto Arellano, and who were responsible for the first
coordinated scientific effort to study the early inhabitant of Mexico and reconstruct the
stratigraphic sequence of Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene age at the Basin of Mexico
using volcanology and glacier advances (Arellano 1946, 1951; Bryan 1946, 1948; De
Terra 1947a, 1947b and 1957).
In the 1960s, Jose Luis Lorenzo became a significant figure in the investigation of
early humans in Mexico. He was named the director of the Departamento de Prehistoria
in 1961, shortly after returning from a two years stay at the University of London
studying under the direction of Frederick Zeuner and Vere Gordon Childe, pioneers of
environmental archaeology and interdisciplinary methods. With this perspective, he
began forming the laboratories of paleozoology, paleobotany, geology, and soils and
sediments. Several interdisciplinary studies were carried out under Jose Luis Lorenzo and
systematic investigations were carried out at the Departamento de Prehistoria for many
years and he developed the glacial chronology of the volcanoes in central Mexico
35
(Lorenzo 1958; 1969). Unfortunately, Lorenzo´s refusal to correlate the Mexican data
with the archaeological paradigms from North America had very negative consequences
for the investigations of the first Americans in Mexico and which have remained
relatively unchanged over four decades.
By 1950, the population of Mexico City had begun its meteoric growth, which
continued to double at intervals of 20 years, the urban center then expanded to the
periphery and a great deal of construction was carried out in the surrounding Estado de
Mexico, prompting an increase in the discovery of megafauna, mostly in lacustrine
deposits. The Basin of Mexico was formed by tectonic activities and fractures, then the
basin start to be filled with material derived from the mountains and redeposited by the
rivers, until, by the end of the Pleistocene, the basin had become a closed basin
supporting a system of lakes. Unquestionably, the lakes provided an oasis- like setting for
many animals, including herds of mammoths, as well as for the first human groups that
arrived in the Basin of Mexico during the late Pleistocene (Carballal 1997; Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a:20) (see Figure 2.1.).
36
Figure 2.1. Location of Mammoth finds in the Basin of Mexico (modified form
Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a, figure 84, 124)
The northeast and eastern sectors of the Lake Texcoco shore provide the setting
for numerous finds of late Pleistocene fauna, especially mammoth, both with and without
associated human artifacts, although the biggest concentration of mammoth bones are in
37
the north, proboscidian bones particularly mammoths have been found all o ver the basin.
The Departamento de Prehistoria (1952) was instrumental for the excavation of
mammoths found from 1952-1980.
According to Jose Luis Lorenzo and Lorena Mirambell (1986a), in their
publication “Mamutes excavados en la en la Cuenca de Mexico (1952-1980),” the
remains of 15 mammoths were excavated in the Basin of Mexico up to 1980. Seven of
these paleontological finds show probable associations with artifacts; however, after a
careful analysis of the archaeological data, only three of these paleo ntological finds
appear to present archaeological contexts. Margarita Carballal Staedtler (1997) published
a detailed compilation of the mammoths and Pleistocene fauna found by the Department
of Salvage Archaeology of INAH from 1980 to 1997. None of the 20 mammoths reported
by Carballal (1997) had been found associated with humans many of these finds were
recovered in very deep excavations (10 meters beneath the actual surface) when subway
lines and underpasses were constructed in the city. Very few mammoth finds in the Basin
of Mexico are more than 35,000 years old and the majority appears to be between 1210,000 years old, however, only three had probable associations with humans.
Mammoth and Human in Tepexpan
In December of 1945, workers digging a trench at the Tepexpan Hospital in the Basin of
Mexico found the skeleton of a mammoth (Arellano 1945:2). The mammoth was almost
complete, and showed evidence of butchering. The skull was overturned and the base
damaged, probably in order to extract the brain (Arellano 1946). One of the iliac bones
38
was missing and the remaining one was overturned with the femoral cavity facing up; The
right foreleg was completely articulated and in an upright vertical position, suggesting
that the animal became trapped and died in the swamp and was then butchered (Arellano
1946; Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a:116). A small flake (3 cm long) made of a white
chert was found between the skull and the head of the humerus. The stratigraphic unit
where the mammoth was deposited is a gray-green lacustrine lime deposit sealed by
caliche, which apparently corresponded to a desiccation period of Lake Texcoco
(Arellano 1945).
A short time later, another less complete mammoth was found in this same ditch.
During the same year, at least five mammoths were found over a 2 km area (De Terra et
al. 1949). According to De Terra, all the fossils were found at the Becerra formation,
defined by Bryan and Arellano as an alluvial deposit with numerous fossils from the late
Pleistocene, this formation was thought to have a regional distribution (Arellano 1946;
Aveleyra 1967; De Terra et al. 1949).
At the end of 1945, Helmut de Terra arrived in Mexico City and began to
coordinate the geological investigations at Tepexpan. Two years later, and after a deta iled
survey of the Tepexpan area, he found a human burial eroding out from a wall profile that
appeared to be “in situ” within a stratigraphic unit that he called the formación Risco,
representing the younger, sandy face of the formación Becerra of the Late Pleistocene
(De Terra et al. 1949:26). De Terra also defined a lithic industry in Tepexpan that he
called the San Juan Industry, represented by coarse unifacially flaked choppers and other
simple unifacial tools.
A handful of researchers was very critical of the De Terra
39
conclusions at Tepexpan; these critics did not approve of the existence of the lithic
complex, questioned the provenience of the burial, and criticized the excavation
technique utilize and the methods used for dating the archaeological context (Avelyra
1950; Black 1949; Krieger 1950; Lorenzo 1967). Alex Krieger (1950) visited the site and
affirmed that the skull originated from an Archaic period occupation that was very well
represented at Tepexpan.
The controversy surrounding the antiquity of the man of Tepexpan continued until
1989, when Tom Stafford directly dated some fragments of long bones. The bone was
pretreated by T. Stafford and dated at the University of Arizona, obtaining a date 1980+/330 (AA-2667); at the same time the skeleton was examine by a physical anthropologist
and was identified as being a woman (Lorenzo 1989). Silvia González and colleagues
(2003:385, 2006) attempted to date the Tepexpan skeleton, but the considerable chemical
contamination with preservatives made it impossible. Although highly controversial, the
Tepexpan site still is a very important site and it will be valuable to continue
investigations at the site.
The Articulated Mammoths of Santa María Iztapan I and II
Santa María Iztapan was the first archaeological investigation by the Departamento de
Prehistoria carried out. In July of 1950, while digging an irrigation ditch in the town of
Santa Maria Iztapan located at the northeast edge of Lake Texcoco, workers found
fragments of mammoth bones and tusk (Iztapan 1). In July of 1952, Luis Aveleyra and
Arturo Romano began excavations at the locality, with Manuel Maldonado-Koerdell
40
responsible for the geo-stratigraphy. After four days of work a projectile point was found
lodged between two mammoth ribs. Further work revealed the presence of five more
artifacts associated with the remains. Eighty percent of the skeleton was recovered. One
femur lay more than six feet away from the rest of the skeleton, suggesting that it was
moved during the butchering process (Aveleyra and Maldonado-Koerdell 1953;
Wormington 1957:92-93). The projectile point associated with the mammoth bears a
general resemblance to the Scottsbluff type; the maximum chronological range for this
type is 9,900 to 8,300 BP. (Figure 2.2 and Figure 2.3).
Figure 2.2. Mammoth at Santa Isabel Iztapan I (taken from Lorenzo and Mirambell 1985,
figure 8, 41).
41
Figure 2.3. Photograph of the excavation of the mammoth Iztapan I (from Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a: figure 12, 44)
Figure 2.4. Artifacts associated with the Santa Isabel Iztapan I mammoth (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a, fig 9,42)
42
In June 1954, Arturo Romano, under the direction of Luis Aveleyra, excavated a
second mammoth (Iztapan 2) located approximately one kilometer from the previous
mammoth, and apparently within the same stratigraphic horizon. The second skeleton was
complete and showed clear evidence of butchering (Figure 2.5 and 2.6). Again, the skull
was overturned and the basicraneum smashed. Many other bones showed cut- marks made
by stone tools. Three artifacts were found in direct association with the bones (Figure
2.7). One of these is a projectile point of lanceolate form with a straight base. It has a
broad overall flaking on both faces and an extremely fine marginal retouch. This point
somewhat resembles an Angostura point, as well as some of the Great Basin lanceolate
Paleo-Indian points but, cannot be directly correlated. A second projectile point is laurelleaf-shaped, pointed at both proximal and distal ends (Aveleyra 1955; Aveleyra and
Maldonado-Koerdell 1953), the point is similar to the Lerma type defined by MacNeish
(1950), but which remains poorly dated (Figure 2.7).
43
Figure 2.5. Photograph of the excavation of Isabel II (from Lorenzo and Mirambell
1986a: fig 17, 49).
44
Figure 2.6. Santa Isabel Iztapan II Mammoth (from Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a: fig.14,
47).
45
Figure 2.7. Artifacts associated with the Santa Isabel Iztapan II mammoth.
The Iztapan mammoths were found within the same gray-green lacustrine lime
deposit associated with the Tepexpan mammoth (Aveleyra 1955; Aveleyra and
Maldonado-Koerdell 1953), a radiocarbon age obtained from the organic fraction of the
sediments associated with mammoth kill at Locus 1 yielded a date circa 9,000 BP.
Lawrence Kulp, who processed the sample at Columbia University, does not believe this
date to be very reliable as only a single organic remnant was obtained during the
pretreatment, but suggests that this date may represent the minimal reliable age (personal
letter from Kulp to Aveleyra, cited in Aveleyra 1964:402). Garcia Bárcena (1975:30)
obtained relative dating by obsidian hydration technique of three obsidian artifacts found
46
associated with the first Tepexpan mammoth. The results that he obtained are not very
precise and are somewhat confusing, with three different hydration rim widths equivalent
to 8100, 6200 and 7000 years; he noted that the soil alkalinity of the area could be
affecting the reading (Garcia Bárcena 1975:30-31).
There is not doubt that the mammoths of Santa Maria Iztapan I and II are the best
examples of mammoths associated with humans in the Basin of Mexico. When
Maldonado Koerdell realized the importance of the find, he sent telegrams to H. M.
Warmington, of the Denver Museum of Natural History, Alex D. Krieger from the
University of Texas, and E. H. Sellards, of the Texas Memorial Museum, and on March
20th , they witnessed the removal of the artifacts from the bones, along with many other
Mexican researchers.
Although rumors still exist that the artifacts found associated with the mammoths
of Santa Isabel Ixtapan were a hoax orchestrated for several political reasons, to obtain
funding for future investigations, and to demonstrate the importance of the Departamento
de Prehistoria (Gianfranco Cassiano, personal communication, 2008; Fernando Lopez
Aguilar, personal communication, 2001). Dr. Beatriz Brannif, a professor emeritus at
INAH, was an ENAH student in 1952 and was a part of the excavation crew at site. She
was present when the first stone tool was found at Santa Isabel I and denied that it was a
hoax; however she remembers that plastic bags, among other modern materials, were
found under and above the bones during the excavation, an indication that it was not a
sealed context (Beatriz Braniff, personal communication 2002). Dr. Jane Kelley from the
University of Calgary, then a student, accompanied H. M. Wormington to Mexico City to
47
see the site, and she also agrees that it was not a hoax (Jane Kelley, personal
communication, 2008). Roberto Garcia Moll, former director of INAH and president of
the Consejo de Arqueología (from 2006 to 2009), worked with Luis Avelyra and
Maldonado Koerdell on several investigations; he describes them as very professional and
superior researchers, and also denied the hoax theory (Roberto García Moll, personal
communication, 2007).
Los Reyes Acozac Mammoth
In 1956, Arturo Romano and Jose Luis Lorenzo carried out a meticulous and systematic
excavation of a mammoth locality located in the northern section of the Basin of Mexico,
at Los Reyes Acozac. An excavation area of at least 12x12 meters was opened and three
mostly disarticulated mammoths were exposed (Figure 2.8 and 2.9); two flakes, one of
basalt and other of obsidian, were found in the excavation area but not directly associated
to the bones (Figure 2.10). The stratum of the bone bed was defined as a silty, lacustrine
deposit located at approximately two meters below the surface; the bones were sparse all
over the strata 1.20 meters thick, a possible indication that the bones are not in a primary
sealed context (Lorenzo y Mirambell 1989:45,51). An obsidian flake from the excavation
was dated by obsidian hydration, a date of 10,000 years BP was obtained (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a:51; García Barcenas 1975).
48
Figure 2.8. Los Reyes Acozac Mammoth (Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a: Figure 21,
pag.59).
49
Figure 2.9. Photographs of mammoth of Acozac (from Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a: fig
22, 54).
Figure 2.10. Flakes associated to the mammoth (from Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a:
fig 25, 55).
50
Mammoth of San Bartolo Atepehuacan
In 1957, when digging a drainage ditch At San Bartolo Atepehuacan, Colonia Vallejo,
northern Basin of Mexico, workers found the remains of a semi-complete mammoth.
Arturo Romano was in charge of the excavation, the mammoth was found between 3.203.70 meters under the ground surface in a sandy stratum with charcoal flecks, the sandy
strata was deposited under a caliche- like horizon. The mammoth was semi-articulated
showing several articulated vertebra, many ribs were present in anatomical position,
pelvis and articulated long bones, the cranium was destroyed by the workers who found
the mammoth (Figure 2.11 and 2.12).
Associated with the mammoth skeleton and in the south section of the excavation
area near of the articulated vertebra, a concentration of 59 flakes and chips of obsidian
and fine- grained basalt were found, at least one flake was utilized (Figure 2.11).
Pleistocene hunters apparently resharpened their tools while butchering the animal
(Aveleyra 1962:42-43; 1964; 1967:45-46; Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a:57). Also
between the bones numerous dispersed charcoal flecks were found, a radiocarbon age
obtained from a combine sample of several charcoal flecks gave a date of 9670±400 BP
(M-776). An obsidian flake found in the concentration of tools was also dated by the
obsidian hydration method and produced a result of approximately 9,400 BP (Garcia
Barcenas 1975; Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a).
51
Figure 2.11. Plan of San Bartolo Atepehuecan mammoth with flakes (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a; figure28, pag.59).
52
Figure 2.12. Excavation of the Mammoth of San Bartolo Atepehuecan (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a; figure30, pag.60)
Lake Texcoco Mammoth
A mammoth eroding out on the surface in the southeast sector in a remnant of Lake
Texcoco mud deposits was found in 1972. Lorena Mirambell, with a team of
archaeologists from the Departamento de Prehistoria excavated the mammoth in 1972.
The skeleton was exposed to the surface recently and it was semi- articulated and semicomplete, only the skull and the lower extremities were missing. A total of 31 square
meters was excavated and the skeleton was located in the first 40 cm from the surface in a
pyroclastic deposit composed of more than one volcanic events (Figure 2.13). Three
flakes (two obsidian and one basalt) were found associated with the bones (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986aa:91; Mirambell 1972); however because the mammoth was found on
the surface it is impossible to know if the spatial association between the bones and the
artifacts are part of the same event.
53
In order to determine if there was a late Pleistocene hunters encampment
surrounding the mammoth, Mirambell (1972) tested an extensive area of about 400
square meters for phosphates, and found an area with a high concentration that could be
interpret as an area of high human activity, however no artifact cluster suggesting a camp
area was found; it is important to point out that lake Texcoco has been heavily populated
since 4,000 B.P. Joaquin Garcia Bárcena (1975:37) obtained an obsidian hydration date
for one of the obsidian flakes of about 12,600 years BP, however he notes that because
the flake is very close to the surface the margin of error is unknown and the date is not
reliable.
Figure 2.13. Excavation in process at the Lake Texcoco Mammoth (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a; figure60, pag.97).
54
Santa Lucia I: Mammoths and Pleistocene Fauna
In 1976, a Pleistocene fauna find was reported when a platform was being constructed at
the Air Force base No. 1 in Santa Lucia, Estado de Mexico. Jesus Mora and Oscar
Rodriguez excavated the site (the original report of the excavations, Mora and Rodriguez
1979, somehow is misplaced and was not found at INAH archives). Two semi articulated
mammoths, a semi-articulated camelid, and some isolated bones of a saber tooth tiger
were found at about two meters below the surface in a lacustrian-alluvial deposits. In the
same stratum where the second mammoth was found, one obsidian flake and two andesite
flakes were found (Mora and Rodriguez 1979 cited in Mirambell and Lorenzo 1986:99).
Two dates from the fossil-bearing strata were obtained, from the upper stratum a
radiocarbon date on soil gave a radiocarbon date of 23,900+/-600 (I-10.427) and the
lower stratum gave a date of 26,300+/-880 (GX-6,628) was obtained. A pollen column
obtained from the excavation profile (Gonzalez Quintero and Sanchez 1980) revealed that
the plant community associated with the mammoths of Santa Lucia I was represented by
pine, oaks, cypress and elms, corresponding to a cool but dry weather (Gonzalez Quintero
and Sanchez 1980:200).
55
Figure 2.14. Mammoth excavated at Santa Lucia I (Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a; figure
70, pag.107).
Figure 2.15. Profile of Santa Lucia I (Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986a; figure 69, pag.106).
56
Tocuila Locality
In July of 1996, a mammoth skull was found about three meters below the surface during
the excavation of a water cistern at Santa Miguel Tocuila, in Texcoco, Estado de Mexico.
Luis Morett and Joaquin Arroyo Cabrales begin investigating the paleontological find and
over the next three months five disarticulated mammoths we re excavated. Horses, camels,
bison and rabbits from Pleistocene age were also found in the same bone-bearing stratum.
The Pleistocene fauna is in a 1.5 meter depth mudflow channel, the bones were
transported in the channel after they were deposited in a primary context (Arroyo
Cabrales et al. 2001; Morett et al. 1998; Gonzalez et al. 2001). Some bones were found
articulated but most Mammoth bones were not articulated, this appears to indicate that
they were not transported very far but the skeleton was piled within a 10x10 meter area,
however, the Tocuila channel does not represent a primary archaeological context.
Several 14C dates have been obtained from combine wood charcoal and seeds, soil
samples and mammoth bone. The set of dates average an age of 11,100 years for the
deposit (Table 1) (Gonzalez et al. 2001; Morett et al. 1998, 2003). According to Clauss
Siebe and colleagues (1999:1550), the mammoths are deposited on a 14,000 year old
volcanic eruption. Which appear to indicate that they were redeposited in an older
stratigraphic unit.
Arroyo-Cabrales and colleagues (2001) argued human presence at the Toculila
paleontological locality, base on the presence of one mammoth tusk flake from which two
secondary flakes were detached. The “core” was found together with the pile of bones.
However ,the secondary nature of the bone-bearing stratum and the fact that the bones are
57
embedded in a Pleistocene Lahar appear to indicate that other non-human factors caused
the fracturing of the mammoth bones (G. Haynes 2002:135). The Tocuila locality, none
the less, represent an important region for future investigations. According to Luis Morett
and Joaquin Arroyo Cabrales (personal communication, 2009), near the Tocuila site in the
more intact lake deposits at least three mammoths are known and have not been
excavated; the prospect for a human association is feasible.
Table 1. Radicocarbon dates from Tocuila (modified from table 1 in Morett et al. 2003)
Sample No.
INAH-1658
INAH-1659
INAH-1660
INAH-1661
INAH-1662
AA23161 (AMS)
AA23162 (AMS)
OXA-7746 (AMS)
Depth
170-173 cm
170-205 cm
205-230 cm
230-270 cm
270-300 cm
204 cm
305-306 cm
Material
Wood charcoal
Wood charcoal
Seeds and charcoal
Seeds
Seeds
Soil
Soil
Mammoth skull bone
C14 Age
11277±139
11274±116
11541±196
11296±270
10553±188
10220±75
12615±95
11100±80
Miscellaneous Archaeological Record of the First Mexicans
Beside mammoth finds, an eclectic array of sites of the First Americans has been reported
in different regions of Mexico, some of them have been proclaimed to be more than
20,000 years old. Also human skeletons from excavations and in the bodegas of INAH
have been recently dated.
58
The Tlapacoya Site
In 1965, Jose Luis Lorenzo observed on a recently exposed large profile wall in the lower
bajada of the andesitic Cerro Tlapacoya, stratified deposits showing several lake
shorelines, lahars, peats and paleosols, together with burned red deposits with Pleistocene
bones associated that appear to represent fire features (Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986b:3).
Tlapacoya hill is located along the margins of ancient Lake Chalco, in the southeastern
corner of the Basin of Mexico.
Eight field seasons were carried out at the site between 1965 and 1973. The
research strategy consisted of the excavation of a series of trenches from the Tlapacoya
hill to the old lake shore (Tlapacoya 1-XVIII). Tlapacoya represents one of the few
localities in the Basin of Mexico that has a complete stratigraphic record for the last
40,000 years. The high volcanic activity characteristic of the late Pleistocene times in the
Basin has destroyed much of the stratigraphic record (Huddart and Gonzalez 2006;
Lozano et al. 1993). The reconstruction of the stratigraphic sequence, geochronology,
geomorphology and the environment were carried out at the site, until today the results
remain the most important information to understanding the Late Pleistocene/Early
Holocene environment of the Basin of Mexico.
Jose Luis Lorenzo (Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986b:10, 31; Mirambell 1994:194)
argued for a very early human occupation of Tlapacoya in two loci. At Tlapacoya I
(trenches alfa and beta) the very early evidence is characterized by three cleared circles,
each measuring 1.15 meters in diameter with burned soil, charcoal flakes and very rough
artifacts made of the andesitic rocks of Cerro Tlapacoya. A radiocarbon age of 24,000+/-
59
4000 BP (A-794b) was obtained from a sample composed of very fine charcoal flecks
inside the feature.
The other archaeological context reported by Lorenzo to have great antiquity was
found at Tlapacoya II. A burned log of Taxodium mucronatum (cypress) was found at the
trench and prismatic blade was found laying under the log, the log was radiocarbon
dated to 23950+/-950 BP; Lorenzo proposed that the minimal age for the blade must be
23,000 years, however, they could not find evidence for an archaeological feature
(encampment, kill site, etc,) (Lorenzo and Mirambell 1986b).
C. Vance Haynes Jr. visited the site twice during the excavations and collected
and processed several charcoal samples for obtaining the radiocarbon dates, and also
examined the stratigraphic profiles at Tlapacoya I and II (Haynes 1967). According to
Haynes, both loci are problematic; the cleared circular feature associated with the first
locus may likely represent bear “beds” (C. Vance Haynes Jr., persona l communication,
1997) or may be the result of tree rooting in the sediment (Waters 1985). Huddart and
Gonzalez (2006:98) reopened the old Tlapacoya I alfa trench and they affirmed that there
is no evidence of human occupation between 24,000-10,000 years BP. With regard to the
second locus at Tlapacoya II, the prismatic obsidian blade is clearly an intrusive artifact
associated to the overlying archaic and ceramic period occupations present at the site,
perhaps the position of the blade in the trench is the result of a large fissure which was
clearly visible in the profile (C. Vance Haynes Jr., personal communication, 1997). It is
very possible that the volcanic activity between 24,000-9,000 years BP could altered the
60
formation process of the archaeological record and some of the artifacts from more latter
occupations slipped down to the earlier deposits.
The archaeological record of a 23,000 years old human occupation at Tlapacoya is
highly controversial. However the 10,000-7,000 year old one is much more substantial
and more widely accepted. The best archaeological component of Late Pleistocene /Early
Holocene was found at Tlapacoya XVIII, located 25 meters south of the Trench Beta in
Tlapacoya. The excavations here were carried out in 1970 and 1971 field seasons; here a
feature represented by a high density concentration of lithic artifacts were found near the
slope of the Tlapacoya hill, the feature has at least one 14C age of 7000 years before the
present. From the underlying unit (1V), an extended human burial with the face down was
excavated, the horizon was dated by radiocarbon at 9920+/-250 (I-6897) (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a:84; Nárez 1990:30). Aside from the burial, layer IV had very few lithic
artifacts, two cores, 12 flakes all from the local quarry and one obsidian flake (Nárez
1990:142).
Recently, Gonzalez and colleagues (2003, 2006:69) directly dated a human
cranium housed in the INAH Physical Anthropology Department. This skull had been
found in the late 1960s at Tlapacoya by workmen while constructing a road. The
radiocarbon age obtained is 10200+/-65 (OxA-10225).
It is important to note that the bifacial lithic industry found at Tlapacoya XVIII
was very poorly analyzed by Jesus Narez (1990) and was published as a part of his
archaeological thesis work at the ENAH. The drawings in his thesis, show at least six
bifacial artifact fragments that could be affiliated to a Paleo-Indian lithic industry; two of
61
them present overshot flaking and probable fluting comparable with Clovis lithic
technology. Although these observations are very preliminary, an extensive reanalysis of
the Tlapacoya lithic assemblage is necessary.
The Valsequillo Reservoir, Puebla
Southeast of the Basin of Mexico, at Vasequillo Reservoir, in the state of Puebla, Juan
Armenta Camacho, an enthusiast antiquarian, spent many weekends during the decade of
the 50s looking for sites with Pleistocene fauna. Over 20 years he documented at least
100 localities some of them with bones and artifacts associated; most of the sites were
located at the eroded walls of the arroyos that e mptied at the reservoir (Armenta 1957,
1958). The Hueyatlaco locality was the most important site documented by Armenta and
apparently contains various deposits with Pleistocene fauna and artifacts associated. In
1962, and 1964, Cynthia Irwin-Williams conducted excavations in two outcrops with
exposed profiles containing a series of fine alluvial deposits with Pleistocene fauna and
artifacts (Irwin-Williams 1967:338).
According to Irwin-Williams (1976), the early man evidence is represented in
several strata: Unit C contained large quantities of horse and camel remains and five stone
tools, none of which can be considered diagnostic; Unit E1 contained abundant fossil
remains of horse and camel, along with a few horned antelope and mammoths, a Lermalike point and a bifacial tip were found between the ribs and vertebrae of a semiarticulated horse skeleton; Unit E2 contains a concentration of mastodon bones
representing a single individual, the mandible was split and a chopping tool was
62
discovered inside the fragmented mandible near the tooth row, and a burin- like tool was
recovered from inside the tooth cavity; Unit G had abundant fossil remains with
inclusions of a distinctive volcanic ash, a unifacial pointed tool was recovered from under
a large ungulate rib (Irwin-Williams 1967). Although the Huayatlaco locality appears to
be an extraordinary site with Pleistocene fauna in direct association with artifacts, the
deposits were dated at that time using uranium series ages of more than 200,000 years
very controversial dates (Steen-McIntyre et al. 1981; Irwin-Williams 1981).
Recently, new research investigations have been carried out at the locality of
Huayatlaco. In 2001, a group of investigators (Ochoa Castillo et al. 2003; Hardaker 2007;
Malde et al. 2007) cleaned and reopened some of the Irwin-Williams´ excavations of the
1960s. In 2004, Waters and colleagues (Renne 2005; Waters 2008) opened several test
pits and found the walls of the old excavations made by Irwin-Williams with the purpose
of studying the stratigraphic sequence, reconstructing the geochronology and assessing
the relationship between the artifacts, the fossils and the deposits. Silvia Gonzalez and
Collages did some geological work in 2003 near the Huayatlaco locality with the purpose
of reconstruct the quaternary geological sequence in the valley. They claim to have
human footprints in a volcanic ash locality alleging dates earlier than 40,000 years ago
(Gonzalez and Huddart 2007, Gonzalez et al. 2006a, 2006b).
Michael Waters and colleagues’ main concern is to understand the formation
process of the archaeological record at Huayatlaco (Waters et al. 2008). Although their
investigations are still in process, they reviewed the established stratigraphic sequence
and propose a new geochronological sequence. The Huayatlaco ash dates to 450,000
63
years ago, the dating was obtained using different methods and all produce similar dates.
Waters and colleagues’ investigations have also shown that the artifacts recovered from
Irwin-Williams’ excavations are not a hoax, as Lorenzo claimed (1978) and they are
located at an unconformity in the stratigraphic sequence. An uranium-series
determination in bone from the so called “bifacial level” gave a date of 245,000 + 40,000
BP; however, due to the unconformity, this bone bed date does not reflect the age of the
artifacts that most like are of Holocene age (Waters et al. 2008). In order to understand
the geochronology of the Valsequillo Valley, Waters and colleagues also dated volcanic
episodes present at different profiles using diverse dating techniques -fisson-track, tephrahydration, U/TH(he), Ar-Ar- normal and reverse polarity.
The dating of the Xalnene Tuff deposit where Gonzalez and colleagues (2006a,
2006b) claim to have a site composed by human and other animals foot prints, gave a date
of 1,300,000 years BP (Ar-Ar and reverse polarity) (Renne et al. 2005; Waters et al.
2008). After almost 50 years of speculation; Waters and colleagues are beginning to
resolve the many Valsequillo site questions.
El Cedral, San Luis Potosi
Seven radiocarbon dates ranging between approximately 38,000-21,000 BP have been
reported from the Rancho La Amapola Site, at El Cedral, San Luis Potosi (Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1985; Mirambell 1994; Lorenzo and Mirambell 1999). These radiocarbon ages
were obtained from several lenses composed of ash and charcoal that were interpreted as
“hearths,” These “hearths” were found dispersed among the remains of mammoth, camel,
64
horse, and tapir were (Mirambell 1994:192-193). A possible side scraper represents the
sole artifact reportedly associated with these features.
The El Cedral site lacks a clear stratigraphic relationship between the layers and
the associations between the archaeological contexts of the site and the post-depositional
alterations caused by mixed travertine spring sediments (Garcia Barcena, personal
communication 2008; Fernando Sanchez, personal communication 2002).
Archaeological Project “El Poblamiento de América visto desde la Isla del Espíritu Santo,
Baja California Sur”
In 1996, Harumi Fujita an archaeologist from the Centro INAH Baja California Sur
discovered the “Covacha Babisuri” cave site on the Isla Espíritu Santo located 30 km
from the mainland in the Sea of Cortes. She argues for a 40,000 year old human
occupation at the cave. At the stratum III, the lowest stratigraphic unit, above the bedrock
of the cave; the occupation is represented by basalt and rhyolite flakes and scrapers,
ground stone and many shells that have been transformed into artifacts (Fujita 2002,
2007, 2008). The antiquity of the occupation was obtained by radiocarbon dating the shell
artifacts at 40,000 years old. The stratum II, above the stratum III, is desc ribe as an
occupation very similar than the one in stratum III but with a 10,000 year old occupation
(Table 2.1). According to Fujita, the transition between layer II and III is continuous and
there are very few distinctions between the two layers, both deposits are silty sand, loose
deposits (Fujita 2007, 2008).
65
At least 88 radiocarbon dates have been obtained from La Covacha shelter.
Twenty two of the radiocarbon dates on bulk shells (Glycymeris sp., Dosinia sp., and
Leavicardium sp.) are at least 35,000 years old (Fujita 2008). Seven charcoal samples
have been radiocarbon dated, all the charcoal dates are of late Archaic age (1800 to 1300
cy AP, see table 2.1); At least two of the charcoal samples dated were recove red in
stratum III (the 40,000 years old unit). Fujita have in his report a radiocarbon date of
8280±40 from a fish bone in stratum V (Fujita 2007 and 2008).
In summary the Babisuri site appears to represent a late Archaic occupation of the
island. The similarities of the three occupations of the cave describe by Fujita are
comparable with the Archaic occupations of Sonora, with the presence of ground stone
and fire-cracked rock. The early dates obtained from the shell artifacts surely represent
the use of fossil shells by the inhabitants of La Covacha Babisuri obtained from a natural
relic shell deposit of Pleistocene age, and certainly the shell dates do not represent the age
of the occupation of the shelter.
Table 2.1. Selected Radiocarbon dates reported by Jarumi Fujita (2007; 2008).
Sample No.
B159190
B159188
B211114
INAH-2266
B159194
B211120
B159189
B159191
B159193
Stratum
B3 V a inferior
B2IV a inferior
E3 III g inferior
G4 II c superior
B4
H2 IIIj inferior
B2 V a inferior
B4-V
B3
Material
Charcoal
Charcoal
Charcoal
Charcoal
human bones
Charcoal
Charcoal
small charcoal
fish bone
C14 Age
1860±40
1550±40
1400±40
1356±22
800±40
1270±40
450±40
480±60
8280±40
66
Directly Dated Human Bones from Mexico.
With a grant of the Natural Environment Research Council, UK, the geologist Silvia
Gonzalez (John Moors Liverpool University) and the physical anthropologist Jose
Concepcion Jimenez (INAH) developed a program for directly radiocarbon dating eleven
bone samples from human skeletons presumed to be obtained from old contexts, all of
them curated at the Physical Anthropology Department of INAH. Only four samples
contained enough carbon after the bone was purified to obtained collagen; of these only
two gave dates of Paleo-Indian age. From the Peñon III skeleton found in 1957 a
radiocarbon age of 10,755 +/-75 (OxA-10112) was obtained (Gonzalez et al. 2003:381;
2006:69). A cranium found by workmen making a road at Tlapacoya in the early 1960s
resulted in an age of 10,200 +/-65 (Gonzalez et al. 2003:381; 2006:69).
Early Man at the Yucatan Peninsula
Several caves were recorded from the Project Atlas de Sitios Arqueológicos de Quintana
Roo. Although these caves are underwater today, at the end of the Pleistocene, when the
water of the Caribbean Sea was much lower, the caves were unquestionably dry. The cave
deposits have suffered some mixing due to the sea currents; however, some
archaeological contexts and paleontological specimens have been found (Gonzalez et al.
2006). In three caves, charcoal flakes presumably from a human occupation, and at least
three human burials were dated by radiocarbon, the dates obtained are about 8,000 years
old (Table 2.2) (Gonzalez at al. 2006:87).
67
More studies need to be performed at the caves in order to understand the nature
of the archaeological elements and the integrity of the samples and the stratigraphic
contexts. The Naharon I dated bone, contained less than 0.1% of the residual organic
carbon found in bones and did not exhibit a collagen like profile and should be regard as
problematic (Taylor 2009:184).
Table 2.2. Radiocarbon Dates reported in Gonzalez et al. 2006
Sample No.
c14 Age
Material
Cave
INAH-2123
6941+/-39
Charcoal
Las Palmas, Qu intana Roo
B-1666199
INAH-2009
9180 +/-60
9318 +/-37
Charcoal
Charcoal
Aktun Ha, Quintana Roo
Aktun Ha, Quintana Roo
INAH-2011
9139 +/-23
Charcoal
Aktun Ha, Quintana Roo
UGA-6637
9524 +/-84
Charcoal
Aktun Ha, Quintana Roo
UCR-4000/
CAMS-87301
UGA-6828
11670 +/-60
Hu man bone
Naharon, Qu intana Roo
8050 +/-130
Hu man bone
Las Palmas, Qu intana Roo
Ocozocoautla, Chiapas (Los Grifos and Santa Marta Caves)
Joaquin Garcia Barcena excavated two caves between 1974 and 1977 at Ocozocoautla,
Chiapas . Cueva de los Grifos is a moderately sized cave measuring 24 meters wide and 8
meters deep, and is one of three continuous caves located at Ocozocoautla, Chiapas, the
cave contained stratigraphic deposits of no more than 1.5 meters in depth. (Santa Maria
and Garcia Barcena 1984:7). An unfluted, lanceolate, chert projectile point was found
together with denticulate tools, scrapers and bifacial thinning flakes, as well as bone
fragments were recovered from among the earliest stratigraphic deposits (Santa Maria and
Garcia Barcena 1984, 1989). Although identified as a Clovis point (Garcia Barcena 1979;
Santa Maria and Garcia Barcena 1989:76), the point is not fluted, and the fine collateral
68
pressure flaking and basal thinning present in this specimen is unlike Clovis-type points,
and, alternatively, appears to be most similar to Plainview or Milnesand-type points
(Sellards 1955; Holliday 1997:141). Two radiocarbon ages were obtained from combined
charcoal flecks; a radiocarbon age of 8930±150 BP (I-10760) was obtained for the lower
stratum containing the point, whereas an age of 9460±150 BP (I-10761) is associated with
the unit lying immediately above (Santa Maria and Garcia Bárcena 1984:13; 1989:99100).
Santa Marta Cave is located at the northeast margin of the valley; the cave is 24
meters wide and 8 meters deep and contains 2.5 meters of sediment. MacNeish and
Peterson (1962) conducted test excavations at Santa Marta Ca ve between 1958 and 1959;
Garcia Bárcena and Santamaría of INAH opened an area of 58 square meters in three
different units (Garcia Bárcena and Santamaría 1982).They found a chronological
stratigraphic sequence of at least 15 different well define units, from the lowest units two
dates of about 9000 years old were obtained (see Table 2.3).
Table 2.3. Radiocarbon dates from Santa Marta and Los grifos Caves
Laboratory
No.
I-9260
Provenience
C14 age
Cave
Reported by
Capa XVI
9330 ±290
I-9259
Capa XVI
9,280 ±290
I-10760
Unit 15, above
Plainview point
Unit 16, below
Plainview point
Capa XVI
nivel 7
8930±150
Santa
Marta
Santa
Marta
Los
Grifos
Los
Grifos
Santa
Marta
Garcia Bárcena and
Santamaria (1982)
Garcia Bárcena and
Santamaria (1982)
Santamaria and Garcia
Bárcena (1974)
Santamaria and Garcia
Bárcena (1974)
Acosta (2008)
I-10761
UNAM 07-22
9460±150
10055±90
69
In 2005, Guillermo Acosta from the Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas at
the UNAM carried out new investigations at Cueva Santa Marta for his doctoral
dissertation. Acosta reported the presence of corn pollen, proto- metates and some flakes
at unit XVI that he dated at about 10,000 AP using very fine fleks sparce in the unit (see
Table 2.4) (Acosta 2008a; 2008b). Acosta (2008b) also claims to have the presence of
two tomato seeds and pollen of Zea mays. Wild tropical seeds as nanche (Byrsonima
crassifolia) and zapote (Lucuma mammosa) seeds were observed on the 10,000 year old
unit. No diagnostic lithic tools were found at the unit although expedient flakes and tools
are present along with ground stone artifacts. More laboratory and field investigations
need to be carried out in the cave to understand the relationship between the
archaeological record and the depositional units, before we can accept a 10,000 tropical
environment and domestication.
Gila Naquitz, Oaxaca
Guilá Naquitz is a small shelter at the base of a large ignimbrite canyon wall located high
above the Tlacolula branch of the Valley of Oaxaca. During 1966 and 1967, excavations
were conducted by Kent V. Flannery (1986) in two caves, Guilá Naquitz and Peña
Blanca. The earliest Naquitz phase (6900-4700 cy BP) was attributed to the early Archaic
Period (Flannery 1986:32). Recent direct AMS dating of a seed and peduncles of
Cucurbita pepo with morphological indications of domestication from the lower levels of
Guilá Naquitz, however, provided dates of 8990±60 BP (-100766) and 8910±50 BP (100764) (Smith 1997:933). One projectile point found in zone E of Guila Naquitz (Hole
70
1986:116) could be assigned to the Paeloindian complex. The point is laurel leaf in
outline, diamond shaped in cross section, pointed end, and was identified as a Lerma; it
appears to be similar to the specimens found in association with extinct Pleistocene fauna
at Santa Isabel Iztapan, Estado de Mexico and Hueyatlaco, Puebla. Marcus Winter
(personal communication, 2008) affirmed that two Clovis point bases were recovered
from an open site at about 500 meters from Gila Naquitz Cave, the Clovis occupation of
Oaxaca will be discussed later in this chapter.
Clovis, Folsom and Other Diagnostic Points of the North Ame rican Sequence in
Mexico
The Clovis industry is the oldest universally acknowledged unequivocal cultural horizon
in the Americas, radiocarbon dated at approximately 11,500 years ago (Fiedel 1999a;
Haynes 1993, 2000a; Taylor et al. 1996; Water and Stafford 2007). Several artifacts have
been identified as affiliated with the Clovis tool tradition, but the principal diagnostic
artifact is the lanceolate, fluted Clovis point (Krieger 1950; Sellards 1952; Wormington
1957). Specimens of this rare Clovis point have been found on the surface of virtually the
entire North American continent except in those areas where the late Wisconsian ice sheet
was present (Collins 1999a; Faught 1996; Anderson et al. 1998). Following the Clovis
complex, the Paleo-Indian chronological framework is difficult to discern due to a wide
variety of regional flaking traditions. The most widespread projectile point traditions in
the Great Plains of North America are: Goshen-Plainview, Folsom, Agate Basin, Cody
71
Complex and Dalton (Frison 1974, 1991, 1996; Gramly 1990; Haynes 1964; Waldorf
1987; Wheat 1972; Wilmsen and Roberts 1978).
The Clovis Presence in Mexico
The Clovis tradition in Sonora is very well represented and it is the central topic of this
investigation and will be discussed in the next chapter. Here, the Clovis presence in all
the other regions of Mexico is summarized.
Baja California. At least four Clovis points have been reported from the Baja
California Peninsula.; two from the midsection of the Baja California peninsula. In 1949,
Homer Aschmann found a complete Clovis point of fine basalt at the Rancho San Joaquin
locality (Aschmann 1952). In 1993, the Proyecto Arte Rupestre found a basal fragment of
a Clovis point in the vicinity of Rancho El Batequi (Gutierrez and Hyland 1994) (Figure
2.16). X-ray florescence source analysis of this point fragment, manufactured from
obsidian, indicates that it was derived from the Valle de Azufre quarry, located 43
kilometers to the northeast (Gutierrez and Hyland 1994, 1998). Lucero Gutierrez also
found another Clovis point from survey work carried out in the middle portion of the state
(Lucero Gutierrez, personal communication, 2007).
72
Figure 2.16. Photograph of the El Batequi Clovis Points (Figure XX tomada de Gutierrez
and Hyland).
Pleistocene fauna have also been reported from the same general area of the
surface Clovis finds. Mammoth remains have been reported at Rancho El Mezquital,
located one kilometer to the southwest of San Joaquin (Gutierrez and Hyland 1994).
Gutierrez and Hyland (2002:329) reported for the Cueva Pintada in Baja California Sur a
radiocarbon date of 10860±90 from charcoal collected from an archaeological surface
found at about 30-40 cm below the surface.
In 1981, at the El Canal community in Baja California Sur, a mammoth was
excavated by the local sheriff. Following its excavation, Sheldon Applegate, a
paleontologist with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), found
73
chert flakes while removing sediment from the bones, prompting him to visit the locale,
where he recovered additional chert flakes and bifaces from the excavated back dirt
(Sheldon Applegate, personal communication, 2001).
In 2005, Mathew Des Lauriers and his team found a surface Clovis base at the Isla
Cedros located in the Pacific Ocean in the midsection of Baja California; the Clovis
fragment is heavily patinated dark brown cryptocrystalline raw material (Des Lauries
2008).
West Mexico. At least four Clovis points have been collected from the surface in
the Zacoalco-Sayula Basin of Jalisco, forming the Great Central Lakes of the Mexican
Plateau, in the vicinity of Guadalajara. The lake deposits of this basin are rich in fossils of
extinct Rancholabrean fauna recovered from the Pleistocene gravels (Alip hat 1988:147).
Stone tools associated with extinct fauna have been reported near Atotonilco, located in
the vicinity of the Lake Zacoalco. In 1957, Federico Solorzano found an obsidian flake
with extensive retouch associated with the remains of a semi-articulated mammoth found
on the surface (Aveleyra 1962, 1964:405). In 1983, during the survey phase of the
Proyecto Zacoalco-Sayula, some much deteriorated large animal bones, together with a
fragment of a “lermoide” or "laurel- leaf" point, were found on the surface in the same
locality described by Solorzano (Aliphat 1988:161). In 1963, Howard Smith, George
Mitchell and Jose Toscano located two fluted projectile points made of obsidian on the
surface of Cerro del Tecolote, a volcanic hill that separates Zacoa lo Lake from San
Marcos Lake; both projectile points are each five centimetres long, with a flute on one
74
side and basal thinning on the other. Basal and lateral grinding indicates that they
represent finished tools.
The two points were described and illustrated by Lorenzo in 1964. The points are
exhibited at the Museo Regional de Guadalajara (see Figures 2.17 and 2.18).
Otto
Schondube reported a brown chert fluted biface fragment found during a visit to Cerro del
Tecolote in 1983 in Zacoalco (Aliphat 1988:161; 2008; Otto Schondube, personal
communication, 2008). Bruce Benz (2002; 2006) described a complete Clovis point made
on brown chert, found during his regional surface reconnaissance of the Zacualco-Sayula
Basin while searching for evidence of early agriculture. Although we do not know much
about the nature of the early Paleo-Indian occupation of the Zacualco-Sayula, it is clear
that an archaeological investigation of this area should be carried out in the future.
Figure 2.17. Obsidian Clovis point curated at the Museo Regional de Guadalajara
75
Figure 2.18. Obsidian Clovis point curated at the Museo Regional de Guadalajara
El Platanillo Cave is located west of Penjamillo, on the alluvial plain of the Lerma
River, in northern Guanajuato. Here, Brigitte Faugere (1996; 2006) found two PaleoIndian points that were recovered from a classic period archaeological context; one is a
Clovis point 7 cm long and the other an Eden/Yuma point 10 cm long (Faugere
1996:126). Faugure excavated several caves in the immediate area looking for early
occupations and could not find any archaeological occupations younger than 6,000 BP
(Brigitte Faugere, personal communication, 2007).
The Clovis Occupation in Northeast Hidalgo, Mexico. The region of Meztitlan
and Metzquititlan in the state of Hidalgo in central Mexico comprises the southernmost
end of the Sierra Madre Occidental and has yielded a total of 12 sites, including both
76
open and cave sites, associated with Paleo-Indian occupations (Cassiano 1998). At least
four basal fragments of Clovis points fabricated on a white chert from a nearby source,
have been recovered from a low terrace at the Oyapa site (figure 2.19), together with
Clovis end scrapers and blades (Cassiano and Vasquez 1990:26; Cassiano 2008). Several
additional points and bifaces with a possible Paleo-Indian affiliation were reported from
the other locales (Cassiano 1998; 2008). Some of the projectile points resemble styles of
the Cody complex and Plainview series, Golondrina, Angostura and Lerma projectile
point styles, which remain poorly known with respect to chronology and affiliation
(Faught and Freeman 1998:48; Hester 1977; Hesse et al. 2000; Holliday 1997:154;
MacNeish 1950). Excavations at these localities have not yet been carried out, and it is
unknown if the Opaya site or any of the other localities contain stratified deposits.
Figure 2.19. Oyapa Clovis points. Photograph courtesy of Gianfranco Cassiano
77
Clovis in Oaxaca. At least three Clovis points have been collected from the
surface in the state of Oaxaca (Figure 2.20). In the Municipality of San Juan Guelavia in
the Tlacolula Valley, a Clovis base made on a brown chert was found by Richard
Orlandini (Winter et al. 2008) and is exhibited at the Museo de Santo Domingo
(MarcusWinter, personal communication, 2008). In an open site west of Mitla and 500
meters from the site of Gila Naquitz, located on the lower bajada about a 100 meters from
the Río Mitla, two Clovis bases have been found; one by Richard Orlandi in 2006 and the
other one by Winter and colleagues in 2007. One point was manufactured on a brown
chert and the other displays a very heavy white patina (Winter et al 2008); the site appear
to be a late Pleistocene/Early Holocene knapping station with several bifaces and bifacial
thinning flakes. No excavations have been undertaken at the site and it is possible that
more early sites could be found at the lower bajada (Winter et al. 2008). Another Clovis
point base was found at the site Guhdz Bedkol east of Mitla (Marcus Winter, personal
communication 2008).
Extinct fauna with a possible association with humans have been also found in
Oaxaca. In 2006, during the Salvamento Arqueológico Carretera Oaxaca-Istmo a poorly
articulated Gomphoterium sp. was found and was excavated at the El Pocito site located
about 6 km to the east of Mitla. While this find was very close to the surface, a
denticulate scraper and a multiplatform core made on a reddish chert was found near the
Pleistocene bones (Winter et al. 2008).
78
Figure 2.20. Clovis points from Oaxaca, photograph courtesy of Marcus Winter
Isolated Clovis Finds. Isolated surface finds of Clovis-type points diminish considerably
to the south of Sonora. A total of five isolated Clovis points have been reported from the
states of Sinaloa (Guevara 1989), Chihuahua (Di Peso 1965), Durango (Lorenzo 1953)
and Tlaxcala (Garcia Cook 1973). All of these are either surface finds or points from
private collections with unknown proveniences.
Folsom and Plainview Presence in Mexico
There are very few Folsom points known from Mexico, all have been found in the
northeastern states of Chihuahua and Nuevo Leon. Presently, no Folsom-style projectile
points have been found west of the Sierra Madre Occidental. However, several Plainview
styles or unfluted lanceolate bifaces with a Paleo-Indian affiliation have been reported
from several localities in Mexico. Plainview points appear to be present on both sides of
the Sierra Madre range.
79
Jeremiah Epstein (1961) carried out a reconnaissance survey at San Isidro and
Puntita Negra sites in Nuevo Leon. The San Isidro Site is situated in a lower bajada and
several thermal features are exposed on the surface. The most abundant tool type at the
site are choppers made by a crude bifacial flaking technique; a small polyhedral core, and
nine projectile points made of chert were also found. The projectile points consist of four
Plainview- like points, two Tortuga points, one Langtry- like point, one point of lanceolate
form, and a nondescript type. A heavy patina covers each of the artifacts. The described
Plainview points are similar to classic Plainview type, except that the basal concavity is
slightly deeper (Epstein 1961). Epstein recovered a fluted point tip from the Puntita Negra
Site; the fluting carries through to the tip of the point, prompting its identification as a
Folsom point (Epstein 1961). Aveleyra (1961) reported the surface find of a classic
Folsom point base from the Salmalayuca Basin, near Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Several
bones of extinct animals have also been found within the vicinity, but no associated
artifacts have been reported.
During the 2002 field season of the catalogo de sitios de Nuevo Leon project,
Moises Valadez from the Centro INAH Nuevo Leon, found La Morita rock shelter,
located at Villadama about a 100 km west of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. The cave has two
chambers; the main chamber has an irregular shape and measures 18x7 meters. During
2003 and 2004, explorations of the principal chamber were carried out, a total of 50
square meters were excavated showing an stratified deposit. The lowest stratum is about 3
to 4 meters from the actual cave floor (capa IV-V). This stratum is composed of very
compacted silts; with retouched flakes, polished bones and burned molars of Equus sp.
80
associated with the stratum. At least four Folsom projectile point fragments were
recovered from this unit. Two C-14 ages have been obtained from charcoal one has a
9230 ± 45 BP age (OxA-17377) and the other date is
8,935+ 66 year old (UofA)
(Valadez Moreno 2006; 2008; Moises Valadez personal communication 2008). There is
no doubt, that the ongoing investigations at La Morita will provide essential information
of the Folsom occupation in Nuevo Leon.
During the project La Ocupación de Agricultura Temprana en el Sur de
Chihuahua, Art Mac Williams and colleagues found a Plainview point fragment at a cave
site ( C75-01 site) located on the highway between Cuauhtemoc and Chihuahua, and
apparently was associated with an occupational surface with disperse charcoal. The
charcoal was dated by radiocarbon at 9120±50 AP (b185635) (MacWilliam et al.
2006:10). Unfortunately, the contexts at the cave are very disturbed and no primary
contexts remained
of the Plainview occupation (Art MacWilliams,
personal
communication, 2007).
A burned complete Plainview point made on chert (Figure 2.21) was found among
the earliest stratigraphic deposits at Cueva de los Grifos, Chiapas (Santa Maria and Garcia
Barcena 1984, 1989). Two radiocarbon ages were obtained from combined charcoal
flecks; a radiocarbon age of 8930±150 BP (I-10760) is given for the lower stratum
containing the point, whereas an age of 9460±150 BP (I-10761) is associated with the
unit lying immediately above the point (Santa Maria and Garcia Barcena 1984:13;
1989:99-100).
81
Figure 2.21. Ilustration of the Plainview point from Cueva de los Grifos.
In 2004, Jose Luis Punzo and Bridget Zavala reported that a Plainview base of
chert (Figure 2.22), was collected from a later prehistoric context from the Mesa de Las
Tapias site in the Guadiana Valley, Durango (Punzo and Zavala 2007:190). In 1953 J.
Charles Kelley found a Clovis Point at the Weicker site also in the Guadiana Valley
(Lorenzo 1953; Punzo and Zavala 2007:190).
Figure 2.22. Plainview base at Mesa de las Tapias, photograph courtesy of Jose
Luis Punzo.
82
Los Prime ros Mexicanos:On the archaeological data, and some propositions a
propos of the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene occupation of Mexico
After an extensive search of the existing archaeological data for the First Americans of
Mexico we can say with confidence that there is no convincing evidence that Mexico was
inhabited before 12,000 years ago. The four sites known in Mexico proclaimed to have
great antiquity: Tlapacoya, Mexico City; Hueyatlaco, Puebla, El Cedral, San Luis Potosi
and Babisuri, Baja California do not pass scientific scrutiny and they cannot be
considered as very early sites associated with the glacial maximum.
There is no doubt that the archaeological record of mammoths and humans in the
Basin of Mexico is somewhat enigmatic. Artifacts have been found with at least six
mammoths, however, only three mammoths; Santa Marta Iztapan I and II and San Bartolo
Atepehuacan, have demonstrated a secure association between mammoth and artifacts, all
of them were excavated before 1960. It is indisputable that before 9000 years ago
Columbian Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) were ordinary inhabitants of the basin of
Mexico, 150 mammoths have been reported and many investigated (Arroyo et al. 2003,
2006; Garcia Barcenas 1975; Carballal
1997; Gonzalez et al. 2006; Lorenzo and
Mirambell 1986a). The recent directly radiocarbon dated human bones from El Peñon
and Tlapacoya offer proof that humans were present in the Basin of Mexico at least
10,500 cy BP. The possibility of finding in the future an early site in the Basin of Mexico
that will modify what we known of the first colonists of the Basin is at best very slim.
The Center of Mexico is one of the most studied regions in the American Continent. 300
of the 400 INAH archaeologists work in central Mexico, however adjacent areas such as
the state of Tlaxcala have been very little study. For example, several mammoth finds
83
have been reported in Tlaxcala that have not been attended (Linda Manzanilla, personal
communication 2009). A research program focusing in this finds and other similar sites
should be implemented as a priority on the research.
The cultural affiliation of the first people in the Basin of Mexico is unknown; the
diagnostic projectile points found in association with the mammoths at Santa Iztapan it is
somewhat confusing. One of the points resembles an Angostura point, as well as some of
the Great Basin lanceolate Paleo-Indian points, but cannot be directly correlated. A
second projectile point is laurel- leaf-shaped, pointed at both proximal and distal ends
(Aveleyra 1955; Aveleyra and Maldonado-Koerdell 1953), this point is similar to the
Lerma type defined by MacNeish (1950), but which remains poorly dated.
Unquestionably, the Paleo-Indian sequence established for North America can be
traced southward into northern Mexico. The Clovis tradition is very well represented in
Sonora but, proceeding farther to the south, artifacts become scarce, although isolated
points have been reported as far south as Costa Rica. The apparent well- represented
Clovis occupation in northeast Hidalgo is puzzling. However, the geographic location of
the sites in the three corners where the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Hidalgo meet,
could be perfectly explained if we assume that Clovis groups are moving south from the
Southwest region of the United States. Much more systematic work needs to be carried
out at this area.
The North American Paleo-Indian traditions following Clovis appear to have a
regional distribution and only a very few examples of Fo lsom and Plainview points are
found to extend into the eastern Mexican borderland states. Mexican collections reveal
84
only a very few examples of the numerous varieties of late Paleo-Indian projectile point
types affiliated with the Great Plains tradition.
On the other hand, the Mexican collections reflect projectile point types apparently
related to the late Paleo-Indian complexes of western North America, and for which,
unfortunately, the cultural affiliations and chronology are not well understood. Projectile
points such as the lanceolate forms, including unstemmed and stemmed/shouldered types
of the Great Basin and Southwest (Beck and Jones 1997:187; Fa ught and Freeman
1998:46; Willig 1990, 1991:101), Angostura points (similar to Agate Basin and Hell Gap
points) that have been found in the Great Plains, especially in Texas (Faught and Freeman
1998:48; Holliday 1997:156), and Golondrina points from Texas (Holliday 1997:154) are
present in many of the Mexican sites. Unfortunately, the lack of chronological a nd
stratigraphic association prohibits a discussion of possible correlations.
Lerma points, bifaces with a lanceolate shape and concave bases, have been identified
in several sites throughout eastern and central Mexico. MacNeish (1950:72) assigned the
name of Lerma presumably because the point was found in association with his Lerma
Horizon (dated to approximately 9,200 BP) at a cave in southern Tamaulipas, Mexico.
The points, however, were not found in dated contexts, but were derived from undated
deposits from another cave presumed to be associated with the Lerma Horizon
(Wormington 1957:202). Alternatively, I suspect that the Lerma bifaces do not represent
a chronologically diagnostic type, but likely reflect a general biface form exhibiting
varying degrees of technological skill with a widespread chronological and spatial range.
85
The archaeological record of the first Americans in Mexico appears to indicate that,
north of Mexico City, the early sites are associated with the Paleo-Indian sites of
Northern North America. The Clovis presence of Mexico can be placed mainly to the
west of the Sierra Madre, from Baja California to Jalisco; it is, as yet, difficult to explain
the Hidalgo sites. Folsom is observed exclusively east of the Sierra Madre in Nuevo Leon
and Chihuahua. However, Plainview-like projectile points have been reported in both
sides of the sierra.
South of Mexico City, archaeological data appear to represent two different traditions.
The Paleo-Indian tradition of North America observed in Oaxaca and Chiapas is
represented by Clovis and Plainview projectile points. However, late Pleistocene/early
Holocene point traditions from central and South America appear to be also represented
south of Mexico City. Recent investigations in the Ocozocoautla caves in Chiapas by
Guillermo Acosta (2008a and 2008b) appear to indicate that humans were present in
Chiapas since at least 11,000-10,000 years ago. An occupation surface investigated by
Guillermo Acosta at Santa Marta Cave suggests that, by 10,500 years ago, people with an
economy based on wild tropical plants and small animals processed food with insipient
ground stone tools. This subsistence practice appears to be more related to tropical
hunters and gathers (Acosta 2008). Also, fishtail fluted points affiliated with Central and
South American sites have been found in Chiapas (Santa Maria and Bárcenas 1989) and
probably at the Hidalgo sites (Cassiano 2008). In a recent study Pearson (2004) suggests
that the fishtail fluted points are derived from the Clovis tradition and they are a
technological invention of South America.
86
In conclusion, the scarce and confusing records of the human groups of the late
Pleistocene/Early Holocene available for Mexico appear to approximately correlate with
those complexes established for the Great Plains and Great Basin United States. The
presence of domesticated Cucurbita during the late Paleo-Indian period 8,500 B.P. and
the presence of corn pollen appear to indicate that decreasing mobility commenced very
early in the cultural history of the human occupation of Mexico. I recommend following
the research strategy undertaken in the 1970s by C. Vance Haynes Jr. in evaluating PaleoIndian contexts in the United States, implementing an active program of radiocarbon
dating and stratigraphic trench exploration in the potentially significant sites excavated
before 1980, as well as in those localities that are only known through their surface
material. Additionally, a geoarchaeological research program investigating the peopling
of Mexico should be developed following the methodology of the well-established
research on early man within the United States. Only then we will truly be able to discuss
the chronological and cultural sequences for the first Mexicans.
87
CHAPTER 3
FRAMEWORKS FOR SONORAN EARLY PREHISTORY
This chapter presents the environmental and archaeological background pertinent to the
current research and includes descriptions of the modern natural environment, the history
of previous archaeological investigations relevant to the Paleo-Indian occupation in
Sonora and vicinity regions, as well as the regional cultural-historical chronology.
The Sonoran Landscape
The state of Sonora encompasses 184,934 square kilometers, or slightly more than nine
percent of the Republic of Mexico. The landscape of the region is part of the Basin and
Range physiographic province; virtually all the state of Sonora is situated in this province
that continues to the south to at least central México (McDowell 1997:1349). This
landscape resulted from fracturing of the Earth’s crust and formation of block-faulted
basins and mountain ranges along with volcanic intrusions. In eastern Sonora, near the
foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental, the fault-block ranges are subjected to extensive
erosion, forming deep, rugged canyons. The debris from this erosion filled the intervening
basins. A few of these basins have drainages such as the Rio Sonora and the Rio Mátape
(Figure 1). In the northwest section of the state, the same geologic structures are also
found, but they are deeply buried beneath debris from their own erosion along with the
broad alluvial plain formed by sediment eroded from the foothills (McDowell et al.
1997), giving rise to the description “Buried Ranges” for this part of Sonora (de Cserna
1975). This block-faulted area dropped down as the Gulf of California opened, beginning
88
over 5 million years ago (Bailey 2002; McDowell et al. 1997). West and southwest of
Santa Ana (Fig. 1) the mountain ranges are only partially buried. Northwest, west, and
southwest of Hermosillo, however, the ranges are more deeply buried, underlying a flat
open alluvial plain, here informally called the “Llanos de Hermosillo” (Figure 1) (Gaines
et al. 2009a). This plain terrain begins in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental east
and northeast of Hermosillo, and slopes gently down to the west-southwest into the Gulf
of California. It is likely composed of deltaic deposits of the Rio Sonora and alluvial fan
sediments off of the partially buried ranges to the north. The Llanos de Hermosillo is
dotted with low hills rising abruptly above the level landscape. These hills include
Tertiary volcanic intrusions and isolated, unburied remnants of the “buried ranges.” The
majority of the sites of the project are in The Llanos de Hermosillo, the llanos have a very
poorly developed drainage, probably because of its relative youthfulness and very low
gradient. As a result, topographic lows locally form lakes in dry years, or playas. Sand
dunes are also locally common across the surface of the plain, some derived from the
coast of the Gulf and others probably derived from sand in the alluvium. Some dunes are
associated with the playas, but whether they formed as a result of wind erosion of the
playa basin (lunettes) or if they are dune ridges that helped contain the playas is unclear
(Gaines et al. 2009a).
89
Figure 3.1 The Sonoran Landscape and Sites (from Gaines et al. 2009)
90
The hydrology of the northern section of Sonora is composed of perennial surface
arroyos with underground aquifers that are the principal sources of water, at present times
these aquifers are over exploited and they have been contaminated with salt water from
the sea. The study area is located in three hydrological basins; Rio Sonora, Rio Bacoachi
and Río Matape (Vega Granillo 1992). The Rio Sonora basin is the largest of the three
and begins in the vicinity of Cananea, and is composed of three rivers; the Rio Sonora,
Rio San Miguel and Rio Zanjon (INEGI). The three rivers merge together at about
Hermosillo and then they form a delta until they emptied to the sea. Dry washes or
zanjones drain off of the foothills into the river or out across the alluvial plain. Arroyos
drain into the washes and discontinuous gullies formed on the surface of the plain. The
basin of the Rio Mátape begins at about the town of Mazatán and goes in a north-south
direction and then turning to the southwest until empties into the Sea of Cortes at about
Guaymas. Today, the underground fresh water aquifers of the Río Matape are
contaminated in the middle of the basin by an older highly mineralized aquifer composed
of Calcium-Magnesium-Chloride and at the southwest end of the basin are contaminated
with salt water (Vega Granillo 1992). The basin of the Río Bacoachi has a perennial flow
with many underwater aquifers that reach the surface in small springs in the central
segment of the area.
It has been known for 40 years that the sea level fluctuated enormously between
the glacial and interglacial cycles and during the glacial maximum, about 20,000 years
ago, the greatest fluctuation has been documented at 120 meters lower than at the present
(Flemming et al. 2003; Muhs et al. 2004). During the terminal Wisconsin, the Sea of
91
Cortez would have been at least 40 meters lower than it is today, with vast expanses of
dry land exposed in the upper gulf from the midriff islands to the present Colorado River
delta. Based on bathymetric data (Lohman 1967; Lavín and Marinone 2003), and
assuming no subsequent tectonic activity, it is possible to estimate northern gulf lateglacial shore levels (Figure 3.1). Horizontal shoreline location differences would have
been much greater on the gently sloping Sonoran side of the gulf than on the steep Baja
coastline, and the northern Sonoran coast would have been on average roughly 60-70
kilometers west of its current location. Most of the upper gulf would have been dry land,
with a 20-40 km wide channel extending from Isla de la Guardia to the mouth of the
Colorado River.
Isla Tiburon would have been connected with the Sonoran mainland,
and the associated landmass would have been separated from the Baja peninsula by less
than 20 km of water (Figure 3.1).
The Environmental Setting of the Sonoran Landscape
The Sonoran Desert Biome
The Sonoran Desert is a unique tropical desert with a relatively high biodiversity (Nabhan
and Holdworth 1998); considered to represent a relatively young component, with respect
to its characteristic vegetation, having developed following the end of the Pleistocene.
Within Sonora, this province extends along the Arizona border from the Colorado River
east to Nogales, and south to a point approximately halfway between Guaymas and the
Rio Yaqui.
92
Although northwestern Sonora lies entirely within the Sonoran Desert, this region
presents a mosaic of several biotic communities (Brown et al. 1994). The Lower
Colorado River Valley subdivision predominates in the northwest and extends south
along the coast approximately to Puerto Lobos, where it is replaced by the Central Gulf
Coast subdivision. The Arizona Uplands subdivision is predominant to the north of
Highway 2 between Sonoyta and Santa Ana. The Plains of Sonora subdivision extends
along the interior approximately from Santa Ana south to Guaymas (Figure 3.2). Adjacent
to the Sonoran Desert Province we found the Southern Coastal Belt Province and the
Sierra Madre Occidental.
93
Figure 3.2. Physiographic provinces of Sonora (from Carpenter et al. 2008).
94
Lower Colorado River Valley Subprovince
The extreme northwest corner, from the Colorado River east to the Río Sonoyta, is known
as the Gran Desierto de Altar and is marked by extreme aridity—median annual
precipitation is a mere 89.8 mm, and temperatures often reach 45°C (113°F) or more
(Pérez Bedolla 1996:142). The Colorado River and the ephemeral Río Sonoyta, which
define the eastern and western boundaries of the Gran Desierto de Altar, are the only
significant drainages within the region. Large expanses of sand dunes and desert
pavement are common. Vegetation is generally limited to creosotebush (Larrea
tridentata) and white bursage (Ambrosia dumosa). Sonoran pronghorn (Antilocapra
americana sonoriensis), desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii), and antelope jackrabbit
(Lepus alleni) are the principal mammalian species.
The volcanic disconformity represented by the Sierra Pinacate is an isolated
subprovince surrounded entirely by the Gran Desierto de Altar. This region,
encompassing approximately 1,500 km2, is characterized by dozens of volcanic cones and
craters of varying sizes, along with extensive basalt lava flows reflecting the
accumulation of 2 million years of activity ending in the lower Pleistocene (Hayden
1998:14). Natural bedrock basins, or tinajas, provide the only source of water in this
region. Historically, desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) and Mexican wolf (Canis
lupus baileyi) inhabited the Pinacate region.
95
The Arizona Uplands Subprovince
To the east of the Río Sonoyta, the landscape belongs to the Arizona Uplands subdivision.
In this region elevations are generally above 500 m (1,650 feet); temperatures here are
even more extreme, occasionally dropping below 0°C (32°F) during the winter months
and soaring to 47°C (117°F) in the summer. The annual precipitation ranges between 200
and 300 mm; characteristic of the Sonoran Desert region, the distribution is bimodal—
slightly more rain falls during the summer chubascos than in the winter equipatas.
Compared with that of the Lower Colorado River Valley subdivision, the vegetation is
both more dense and more varied; it includes creosotebush, ocotillo (Fouquieria
splendens), ironwood (Olneya tesota), velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina), littleleaf palo
verde (Parkinsonia [Cercidium] microphylla), organ pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi),
senita (Pachycereus [Lophocereus] schottii), saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), numerous
species of prickly pear and cholla (Opuntia spp.), and barrel cactus (Ferocactus spp.).
The fauna is also more abundant and varied here; it includes desert bighorn (found within
the isolated mountain ranges), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), javelina (Pecari tajacu),
coyote (Canis latrans), American badger (Taxidea taxus), the ubiquitous complement of
lagomorphs, and a host of rodent, reptilian, and avian species. The Río Magdalena/Río
Concepción forms the principal drainage basin in this region, with several major
tributaries, such as the Río Boquillas and the Río Altar, rising among the uplands along
the international border between Sasabe and Nogales.
To the south of the Baboquivari Mountains, where elevations generally exceed
900 m (2,970 feet), semidesert and plains grasslands predominate. True Madrean
96
evergreen woodland is restricted to two small mountain ranges (the Sierra de Humo and
the Sierra del Mezquital) found between Altar and Sasabe, and to the Sierra Cibuta to the
southwest of Nogales (Brown et al. 1994). White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are
generally restricted to these upland areas.
Plains of Sonora Subprovince
The Plains of Sonora subprovince extends along the interior from a few kilometers south
of Santa Ana to just north of Guaymas, with elevations generally less than 500 meters
amsl. Here, desert grasslands intermixed with creosote (Larrea tridentada) predominate,
along with several short tree species, including ironwood (Olneya tesota), mesquite
(Prosopis sp.), palo verde (Cercideum microphylum), and tree morning glory (Ipomeoea
arborescens). Organ pipe (Stenoocereus thurberi), senita (Lophocereus schotti), and
several species of prickly pear and cholla (Opuntia spp.), and barrel cactus (Ferrocactus
spp.) interspersed throughout this subprovince (Perez Bedolla 1996:124-125; Turner
1994:218-220).
Within this region of the Sonoran Desert, elevations generally exceed 500 meters.
Temperatures may occasionally dip below 0° C. (32° F.) during the winter months and
typically reach 47° C. (117° F.) in the summer; annual precipitation ranges between 200300 mm. The Río Sonora and its tributary Río San Miguel provide the most significant
drainage systems within the Plains of Sonora subdivision.
97
The Central Gulf Coast Subprovince
This subprovince incorporates the Sonoran coast between Puerto Lobos and Guaymas.
Here, red mangroves of Rhizophora mangle, along with black mangrove (Avicennia
germinans), white mangrove (Laguncalaria racemosa), and sweet mangrove (Maytenus
phyllanthoides) are found in brackish estuary environments. Species more often
associated with the Baja peninsula such as the boojum (Fouquieria columnaris) and
elephant/torchwood (Bursera microphylla and B. hindsiana) trees (Perez Bedolla
1996:146; Rzedowski 1981:342; Turner and Brown 1994:212-214). Columnar Cardón
cactus (Pachycereus pringlei), a variety of prickly pear, cholla and barrel cactus species,
along with ocotillo (Fouqueria splendens) are also common. Precipitation along the
central coast averages less than 200 mm, and there is a general absence of shrub cover
common elsewhere in the Sonoran Desert (Turner and Brown 1994:212).
In addition to the usual complement of desert mammals, the coastal waters are
home to sea lions (Zalophus californiacus), porpoise (Delphinis delphis), and whales
(Balaenoptera spp., various species, but especially B. physallus), along with the green sea
turtle (Chelonia mydas), various species of mollusks and crustaceans, and a host of fish
species, including totoaba (Cynoscion macdonaldi), mojarra (Diapterus peruvianus.),
mullet
(Mugil
cephalus
and
M.
curema),
spotted
sand
bass
(Paralabrax
maculatofasciatus), grouper (Mycteroperca jordani), snapper (Lutjanus sp.), mackerel
(Scomberomorus sp.), along with several species of sharks.
In terms of protein per square meter, the Sea of Cortez ranks among the very richest
marine environments anywhere in the world. However, no significant stream systems are
98
to be found between the Río Concepción and the Río Sonora, and the availability of fresh
water is limited to only a few widely dispersed springs and tinajas, or bedrock catchment
basins.
The Southern Coastal Belt Province
The Southern Coastal Belt comprises the southern limits of the coastal plain, which
becomes a narrow band extending south into Sinaloa, and is dominated by the broad
alluvial deposits of the Yaqui, and Mayo rivers. In this region, the Sonoran desert
vegetation blends with Sinaloan Thornscrub. From just north of the Río Mayo, the
mesophyllic Sinaloan Thornscrub becomes predominant (Rzedowski 1981:209). Acacia
(A. cymbispina) predominates the coastal plain (Shreve 1937), forming both open and
dense woodlands. Other plants associated with the acacia woodland include tree morning
glory, pitahaya (Stenoocereus thurberi), senita (Lophocereus schotti), echo (Pachycereus
pecten-aborignum), agaves (Agave schotti and A. ocahui), ironwood (Olneya tesota),
torote (Bursera sp.), cassias (Cassia atomaria and C. emarginata), greythorn (Ziziphus
sonorensis), Sonoran ebony (Pithecellobium sonorae), palo colorado (Caesalpinia
platyloba), Lonchocarpus megalanthus, copalillo (Jatropha cordata), palo verde
(Cercidium torreyanum), mesquite (Prosopis sp.), mauto (Lysiloma divaricata) and palo
blanco (Piscidia mollis) (Brown 1994:101-104; Rzedowski 1981:210).
99
Sierra Madre Occidental Province
Lastly, the extreme eastern margins of Sonora are defined by the massive blocks of
rhyolite that form the Sierra Madre Occidental. Within the lower mountain ranges
comprising the foothills above 1000 meters, oak woodlands are endemic. The uppermost
reaches of the Sierra, at elevations of between 2000 and 3000 meters, are populated by
conifers, with Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and various species of pines,
including Pinus ponderosa, P. arizonica, P. engelmannii, and P. chihuahuana
(Rzedowski 1981:297).
History of Paleo-Indian and Archaic Research in Sonora
The first discovery suggesting the possible existence of early man in Sonora was made in
January of 1937 at the Chinobampo Ranch, 20 miles southeast of Navajoa. Here, Howard
Scott Gentry and John C. Blick discovered a human skull imbedded in a caliche-like
deposit of probable Pleistocene age. This stratum also contained the remains of camel,
horse and wolf. The skull, along with a 50-pound stratigraphic block, was removed and
transported back to New York during a second visit to the locality in March of the same
year (Blick 1937).
The Chinobampo locale was revisited the following year by Gordon Ekholm and
Carl Sauer, who affirmed that there was indeed a plausible possibility of this find being a
genuinely ancient deposit, and concluded that, if the skull exhibited evidence of having
been within a lime deposit, it is probably legitimate (Ekholm 1938:46). Ekholm (1940,
n.d.) also reported slab metates, cobble manos, and projectile points observed at several
100
locations near the Rio Mayo, and at a large shell-midden site at Topolobampo in
northernmost Sinaloa, suggesting that these assemblages were comparable to the (as yet
unpublished) Cochise tradition that had only just recently been defined by Sayles and
Antevs (1941).
Malcolm Rogers, recognized today as the “father of desert archaeology”, believed
that coastal Sonora had served as a corridor for “early man” (Hayden 1956:19). In the
early 1940s, he urged Julian Hayden to explore this region further; Hayden subsequently
recorded a large Archaic shell midden located on an ancient, relic estuary at Estero
Tastiota, along with several Archaic period sites in the Sierra Pinacate; the region to
which he would devote his attentions over most of the ensuing five decades (1956, 1965,
1967, 1969, 1976; personal communication, 1997).
With the principal objective of defining the southern extent of the Cochise Archaic
tradition, Donald Lehmer and Bryant Bannister undertook an extensive jeep survey of
Sonora in 1949 (Lehmer 1949a:4). Several sites that they compared to “later Cochise
horizons” were recorded in the Rio Sonora, Zanjón, Estero Tastiota and Arroyo
Cuchujaqui areas (Lehmer 1949a:5). Lehmer and Bannister also reexamined the Arroyo
Chinobampo locale, but were unable to locate any bones or artifacts (Lehmer 1949b).
During the 1950s, George Fay (1955, 1967) defined the “Peralta Complex” on the
basis of 17 Archaic sites he recorded to the west of Hermosillo. Paul Ezell (1954)
collected several archaic projectile points, including Pinto in his survey of the Papaguería
Borderlands, which incorporated extreme north-western Sonora. Thomas Hinton (1955)
reported three San Pedro points as the only archaic artifacts observed during his survey of
101
the Altar Valley. This same year, Charles Di Peso reported on two fluted Clovis points
that were found by a collector in an old estuary 30 miles to the north of Guaymas (Di
Peso 1955). Frank Holzkamper (1956) collected several projectile points at Estero
Tastiota that were subsequently identified by Rogers (Hayden 1956:22) as San Dieguito II
through Amargosa I types. Eduardo Noguera (1958) carried out a brief, but extensive
reconnaissance, and described several sites in the vicinity of Guaymas and Bahía Kino as
being affiliated with the Cochise Archaic.
Throughout the following decade, Ronald Ives (1963) observed the association of
cultural materials and shell middens associated with a fossil Chione shell shoreline in the
region extending between Estero Tastiota and Bahía Adair, while noting that another,
earlier Turitella shoreline presumably associated with the late Pleistocene lacked cultural
materials. And, in 1968, Walter W. Taylor and Jose Luis Lorenzo carried out excavations
at the Tetabejo Cave (SON O:5:6) located to the south of Hermosillo in the Sierra Libre
(Julio Montané, personal communication 2007 and Richard Pailes, personal
communication 2007).
In the years prior to the establishment of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e
Historia (INAH) in Hermosillo (in 1973), the late Manuel Robles, Director of the Museo
de la Universidad de Sonora in Hermosillo and an amateur archaeologist, undertook the
responsibility of documenting the cultural resources reported. He also spent countless
weekends, along with a group of local amateur archaeologists, prospecting for
archaeological sites, and Clovis sites in particular. Robles also had Vance Haynes,
University of Arizona and James Ayers, Arizona State Museum going to visit sites. In
102
1972, Robles and Manzo (1972; Robles 1974) reported 11 localities with a total of 25
Clovis points located at the northern half of the state of Sonora. Six localities are near the
Gulf of California, with others distributed in the basin and range province and on the
llanos de Sonora. Although we have not yet found all the localities reported by Robles
and Manzo our knowledge of the sites that we have visited and the evaluation of the
collections deposited at both the Centro INAH Sonora and the Museo Regional de la
Universidad de Sonora are beginning to provide an indication of the Paleo-Indian
occupation of Sonora. Julian Hayden who visited and studied the Estero Tastiota site with
Manuel Robles assured us that the Clovis occupation was associated with the shell
middens on the coast (Julian Hayden, personal communication 1994). Unfortunately, the
ground at estero Tastiota has been completely modified by shrimp ranches that
completely destroyed the landscape and the archaeological sites.
Among the sites reported by Robles, El Bajío (SON K:1:3) is clearly the most
significant and extraordinary Clovis site in Mexico, and may very likely represent the
largest Clovis period site in western North America. In the summer of 1975, Kenneth and
Marian McIntyre, schoolteachers from Vancouver, Canada, conducted surveys and
carried out surface collections and limited test excavations and identified on the surface
600 roasting pits or hearths (McIntyre and McIntyre 1976). Between 1977 and 1981, Julio
Montané Martí (1985; 1988), from the Centro-INAH-Sonora and the archaeologist who
had previously excavated the well-known early Chilean site of Taima-taima; carried out a
series of trench excavations in 10 different localities within the site and collected many
artifacts from the surface. Unfortunately, neither of these studies was completed, and
103
neither field notes nor reports are known to exist. However, ten boxes containing an
estimated 300,000 artifacts (tools and debitage) recovered during these two projects are
currently curated in the Centro INAH Sonora, but with very little information as to their
contexts, etc. The collection of artifacts from both projects housed at the Centro INAH
Sonora show a clear affiliation with the early Paleo-Indian period and suggests a dense
occupation of the site.
The Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos (CEMCA) carried out
several field seasons during the 1980s with the goal of defining a cultural sequence from
the Pleistocene to the Hiaced Oódham (Piman hunter-gatherer bands who persisted in this
region until the late 19th century). The archaeological evidence from Quitovac, sacred site
of the Tohono O’odham situated near the international border, has been the source of
considerable controversy regarding the association of Pleistocene fauna and Paleo-Indian
hunters. In their report of the 1986 excavations, Rodriguez and Silva (1986) note the
association of stone tools with the remains of a mammoth in what is described as a paleolake at Quitovac. However, the description of these materials is extremely vague within
the ensuing informe and no clear evidence is presented to substantiate their claim of
association between the tools and the faunal remains. In a text published subsequently
(Rodriguez et al. 1993: 212), the authors report that the faunal remains were almost
completely deteriorated, thus prohibiting them from establishing a positive association
with the lithic artifacts and that the poor state of bone preservation equally prevented the
identification of cut-marks or butchering scars or “fractures that could be attributed to
human origin” (Rodríguez et al. 1993: 212, translation by the authors). Rodriguez and
104
colleagues (1993:262) indicate only that the stone tools and faunal remains were in the
same stratigraphic association as a means of substantiating a human presence in the area
during the Pleistocene.
As the focus of his masters thesis, Edmund P. Gaines (2006) carried out a
geoarchaeological study at the Upper San Pedro Valley, Sonora on weekends during
2004-2005. The principal goal of this study was to know if the same stratigraphic
deposition present at in the Upper San Pedro Valley, where the stratified Clovis sites of
Naco, Navarrete, Lehner, Murray Spring and Escapule could be observed south of the
border in Sonora and determine if intact Clovis sites could be documented. After several
months of geoarchaeological investigations, Quaternary alluvial reconstructions and
paleontological sites registrations, only one archaeological site affiliated to Clovis was
registered and no buried deposits of late Pleistocene age were observed (Gaines 2006).
Gaines (2006) also documented three different areas with raw material (chert, petrified
wood and quartz crystal) suitable for manufacturing Clovis points.
Regional Cultural-Historical Chronology of Sonora
Excluding the La Playa site (SON F:10:3), few radiocarbon age determinations have been
reported for Sonora. In constructing a provisional cultural sequence for the earliest
periods of human occupation in northwestern Mexico, we have had to rely almost entirely
upon diagnostic projectile point types that can be correlated with established North
American Paleo-Indian and Archaic sequences.
105
Early Paleo-Indian Occupation of Sonora
The early Paleo-Indian occupation of Sonora is the principal focus of the present work
and will be discussed over the next chapters, here I will only point out that this period is
very well represented in Sonora. The outstanding amount of early Paleo-Indian sites,
many is providing us with a corpus of data that is changing and improving our
understanding of the early Paleo-Indian occupation of western north America.
Late Paleo-Indian/Archaic Occupations
At El Gramal, El Bajío and some other Clovis localities in Sonora a variety of unfluted
lanceolate points that appear to be similar to Golondrina and Plainview specimens known
from the U.S. Southern High Plains (Holliday 1997) have been registered. Perhaps
significantly, many of the unfluted specimens possibly resemble projectile points from the
late Paleo-Indian site of Badger Springs in neighboring Arizona (Hesse et al. 1998; 2000).
The unfluted varieties of points may represent previously undocumented late Paleo-Indian
horizons in Sonora.
At least four of the projectile points reported (two of the specimens from SON
N:11:20-21, one from SON:K:15:1, and from an unknown locality) are definitely not of
the Clovis variety. In terms of both morphology and technology, these are most similar to
Dalton projectile points (Figure 3.3), a transitional late Paleo-Indian/early Archaic
horizon known from the southeastern United States (Bradley 1997; Goodyear 1982;
Morse 1997). One striking aspect of the Sonora collection is the absence of Folsom
artifacts. Of the various post-Clovis Paleo-Indian traditions in the U.S., Folsom is by far
the best known and best documented. Folsom is also classically a Great Plains tradition
106
(Hofman and Graham 1998), though significant Folsom occupations and collections are
documented in the central Rio Grande valley and in adjacent basins (Judge 1973; Amick
1996; Holliday 2005). The frequency of Folsom finds drops significantly farther west,
especially to the southwest in southern Arizona. The absence of Folsom materials from
west of the Sierra Madre Occidental, therefore, is in keeping with the larger pattern of
Folsom distribution (Gaines et al. 2009). In contrast, Folsom artifacts are reported from
northern Mexico east of the Sierra Madre Occidental, but Clovis materials are extremely
rare (Sanchez 2001).
The presence of Plainview, Golondrina and the unfluted lanceolate projectile point
at the Clovis sites of Sonora appear to suggest that late Paleo-Indian traditions most
reminiscent of the southern Plains region continued to persist within the central Sonora
region. The continuity of occupation at the Clovis sites, frequently persisting through the
Archaic, suggests that groups of hunter-gatherers returned to the same territories over
countless centuries. Understanding the stratigraphic position, association, and chronology
of these unfluted lanceolate points, Plainview, and Dalton is a major focus of our ongoing
research.
107
Figure 3.3 Possible Dalton point from Sonora (photo by E. Gaines).
Early Holocene Archaic Period Occupations
Unfortunately, stratified deposits with artifacts of possible early Holocene contexts have
yet to be reported. The following discussion draws upon artifacts from surface collections
at the La Playa site and from four sites with a documented Clovis component (SON
K:15:1, SON K:1:3, SON N:11:20 and SON O:3:1).
The San Dieguito/Malpais Complex
Julian Hayden (1967, 1976, 1987) long argued that the Malpais complex, represented by
heavily patinated chopping and scraping tools from the Sierra Pinacate, reflects a preprojectile point lithic industry associated with small bands of foragers. The dating of
Malpais/San Dieguito assemblages (characterized by thickly patinated crude cobble
choppers and scraper-planes, and large flake side scrapers and knives) remains
108
problematic, with age estimates ranging from approximately 37,000 b.p. (Hayden 1974,
1976) to 4000 b.p. (Rogers 1939, 1958).
A Malpais/San Dieguito lithic complex locality was recognized at the La Playa
site (Martinez et al. 2002). The local stratigraphy in this area of the site is comprised by a
late Pleistocene basin fill with a well-expressed red soil (“Big Red” with Bt-Bk
horizonation) locally buried by a gravel stratum probably representing an inverted
Pleistocene stream channel. The Malpais/San Dieguito I lithic assemblage is located atop
the inverted channel. The location of the Malpais tools indicates that the archaeological
component was deposited sometime after the channel was abandoned. Thus, the
archaeological feature cannot be older than The early Holocene.
Figure 3.4. Schematic x-section of the depositional events at the Malpais Locality.
García Moreno (2005:194-195) carried out a technological and morphological
analysis based upon the degree of patination present on more than 1000 artifacts, she
concluded that at least 50% of the assemblage is representative of the San Dieguito
Phases I or II (with a wide range of probably chronology from 9,000 to 5,000 BP). At
least 29% of the artifacts are representative of the Phase III or later (Garcia Moreno
109
2005:195). However, a heavily patinated grooved axe fragment, and thus dating to no
earlier that AD 1000, was also identified within the La Playa Malpais assemblage,
contributing to doubts regarding the presumed correlation between the formation
processes of desert varnish and the purported antiquity of artifacts.
Tapering Stem Point Styles
Within the Southwestern U.S., tapering stem projectiles have been known with the name
of Jay, Lake Mojave, Silver Lake and Ventana Amargosa (Lorentzen 1998:142), however
they share morphological, technological, geographical and chronological attributes, and
that they can be described in the same group. These points have a long contracted stem
that is frequently edge ground, a trait likely correlated with the shaft technology
(Lorentzen 1998:142). Jay points have gentle shoulder and a lightly contracting stem; the
Lake Mojave point have pointed contracting stem, the longitude of the steam is bigger
than the body and is shoulder less (Sliva 1997:49); the Silver Lake point is smaller with a
wide contracting stem and light shoulders (Justice 2002:107).
Lake Mojave and Silver Lake projectile points are generally placed between
approximately 6,000 B.C in the Great Basin, and may possibly represent types associated
with the San Dieguito complex. The Jay points are thought to date to between 6,0004,800 B.C. (Sliva 1997:49). The Lake Mojave and Silver Lake point types have been
found within the southern Basin and Range Province and the lower valley of the Colorado
river, in regions to the west and south of the Colorado Plateau (Lorentzen 1998:142;
Mabry 1998:57), and have also been reported from sites in southern California (Justice
110
2002b:108). In contrast, the Jay point type is restricted to the Colorado Plateau, Rio
Grande valley and Chihuahua desert regions (Huckell 1996:360).
The La Playa projectile point assemblage includes nine tapering-stem points. Of
these, five are identified as Lake Mohave, three designated as Silver Lake, and a single
Jay point. All of these tapering stem points were manufactured from local or regionally
available raw materials (basalt, schist, and chert) (Ochoa 2004:79). Along with the San
Dieguito I and II artifacts from the Malpais these point types appear to indicate that the
La Playa site was occupied during the early archaic period. At the site SON K:O:1 in the
valley of the Río Matape, as well as at SON K:1:3 near Carbó and SON N:11:20 on the
Central Coast tapering stem points are also present, suggesting that during early Archaic
times, hunter and gather groups were spread all over Sonora inhabiting various
landscapes; from the playas and estuaries near the coast to the heart of the Sonoran
Desert, and in the Basin and Range Province.
Figure 3.5. Tappering Steam points from SON K:O:1.
111
Middle Holocene/Altithermal Archaic Traditions
The Middle Holocene, or Altithermal period, was initially defined by Antevs (1955) as a
shift to higher temperatures and decreased precipitation, the severity of which is still
contested. While Middle Archaic points account for 15 percent of the total assemblage,
only seven of the 254 projectile points (2.7 percent) are identified as Pinto/San Jose types
at La Playa.
We suspect that La Playa, along with much of the lowland desert Borderlands,
was likely abandoned during at least a portion of the Altithermal, supporting models
previously proposed by Berry and Berry (1986), Hayden (1976), Mabry (1998d), and
others. Altithermal period projectile points, such as the Pinto and San Jose types,
probably reflect brief incursions by northern groups from the Great Basin and/or
Colorado Plateau into the Sonoran Desert during sporadic periods of more ameliorative
climatic conditions (Carpenter et al. 2001).
Increased utilization of the Boquillas Valley coincides with a return to more
amenable climatic conditions with the onset of the Late Holocene around 3500 B.C.
Extensive buried cienega deposits recently identified in the Rio Matape Valley at site
SON O:3:1 provide additional indications for a post-Altithermal increase in effective
moisture. Four test units excavated in different areas over an area of two square
kilometers uniformly revealed the same dark clay cienega deposits; the C-14 ages
obtained from these stratums produced a range between 6,000 and 4,000 B.P.
At La Playa, thirteen percent of the Middle Archaic projectile points may best be
associated with the early portion of the late Holocene--immediately prior to the Early
112
Agricultural period--and include four Chiricahua points (4800-2500 B.P.), 27 Cortaro
points (4300-2300 B.P.), and two Gypsum points (4500-1500 B.P.) (Lorenzten 1998:144147). Several archaeologists have noted the apparent discontinuity in the Middle Archaic
associated with the beginning of the Late Holocene (Berry and Berry 1986; Huckell 1996;
Mabry 1998a, 1998b). The appearance of contracting-stem points, including a number of
regional variants considered under the general rubric of “Gypsum Cave” points, coincides
with the beginning of the Late Holocene. This point style co-occurs with maize in the
Coxcatlan phase in the Tehuacan Valley, and represents a new technology utilizing
adhesives to attach the dart point to the foreshaft, suggesting the possibility that both
reflect independent technologies that diffused together (Carpenter et al. 1997, 2002,
Mabry et al. 2008)
Late Archaic/Early Agriculture Period
Initial cultivation of maize begins around approximately 2000 BC. The La Playa site
represents the single largest Early Agriculture period site yet known within the Northwest
Mexico/Southwest U.S. region. The La Playa artifact assemblage is equivalent to those
known from sites in southeastern Arizona, and can be directly associated with the San
Pedro phase circa 1500/1200 to 800 B.C. and Cienega phase 800 B.C. to circa A.D. 150;
one hundred twelve Empire, San Pedro, and Cienega projectile points (61 percent of the
identified points) can be assigned to the Early Agricultural period. This relationship is
further supported by strong biogenetic characteristics shared with populations in
southeastern Arizona. Of the 250 inhumations recovered up to the present, 207 (83%) are
113
assigned to the Early Agriculture period, providing by far the largest burial sample for
this period.
Analysis of the horno contents reveals that, although maize is ubiquitous, wild
resources, such as amaranth, chenopodium, mesquite and other legumes, and cactus
continued to be extremely important, along with the hunting of deer, antelope, rabbit and
hare, tortoise, and desert bighorn; marine resources, including fish and crab, were
transported approximately 100 kilometers from the Sea of Cortez (Martínez 2006).
These data indicate a mixed foraging and farming strategy with intensive maize
cultivation combined with an equally extensive utilization of wild plants and animals that
we have termed the Sonoran Agricultural Complex (Carpenter et al. 2002).
Maize
undoubtedly provided a critical, storable food source for the winter and early spring
months. Yet, even in light of intensification strategies and radically altered settlement
patterns, maize likely contributed a relatively small percentage of the total calories
consumed. Both the low incidence of caries and the ground stone assemblage lend
support to this inference (Barnes 2003).
Discussion
Despite the relatively few investigations conducted to date, Sonora seemingly presents an
extraordinarily high density of Clovis sites and isolated finds, especially in comparison
with the adjacent regions of Arizona, and the remarkable paucity of evidence from
Chihuahua, and Sinaloa. Malcolm Rogers’ conviction that Sonora served as a corridor for
the first Americans appears increasingly likely.
114
The notable Clovis presence on the Llanos de Sonora and in the central river
valley systems suggests that this region of Sonora seemingly supported a long term
residential settlement pattern for both Paleo-Indian and Archaic hunter-gatherer groups.
Binford (1980) and Kelly (1992, 1995) agree that the single most important condition
determining mobility strategies of hunter and gather groups is the natural environment in
the form of food distribution.
The nascent Sonoran Desert flora and fauna provide a relatively high biomass for
human exploitation, with many of the desert plants expending their energies in the
production of seeds and fruits high in nutrients throughout various seasons of the year
(Nabhan 1985, 1989). Accessibility to edible resources is the key variable determining
mobility and the number of residential campsites occupied during the yearly round of
hunter-gatherers
The Clovis Record in the Regions Surrounding Sonora
With the objective of placing the state of Sonora within a framework of late Pleistocene
human occupation, an overview of the Paleo-Indian record of the regions surrounding
Sonora is presented here. Currently, the existence of a pre-Clovis or pre-terminal
Pleistocene occupation has not been confirmed within Arizona, New Mexico and Texas;
the few sites that have been proposed are problematic and remain equivocal (Faught and
Freeman 1998; Haynes 2002; Huckell 2004; Mabry 1998b).
The Clovis occupation represents the oldest universally acknowledged
unequivocal cultural horizon in the Americas, with a time span from 11,500 to 10,800
cyBP (Batt and Pollard 1996; Fiedel 1999; Haynes 1980, 1993, 2000a; Taylor et al. 1996;
115
Waters and Staford 2007). Several artifacts have been identified as affiliated with the
Clovis tool tradition, but the principal diagnostic artifact is the lanceolate, fluted Clovis
point (Haynes 1964; Krieger 1950; Sellards 1952; Wormington 1957). Specimens of this
unique Clovis point have been found on the surface of virtually the entire North American
continent, except in those areas where the late Wisconsian ice sheet was present
(Anderson et al. 1998; Collins 1999a: 35; Faught 1996). However, the vast majority of
Clovis materials are limited to small surface scatters and isolated finds of projectile
points; Clovis sites with stratified sedimentary deposits are extremely rare (Meltzer
1993). The paucity of buried deposits has made our knowledge of the Clovis people very
limited; a dozen sites have been radiocarbon dated, and we know very little of Clovis
subsistence, diet, mobility, territoriality and social organization.
The high archaeological visibility and the spectacular nature of the megafauna kill
sites have served to establish Clovis subsistence strategies based on big-game hunting
models (Meltzer 1993:301). Models of Clovis subsistence and social organization have
traditionally utilized such attributes as kill sites, the small size of campsites, the low
densities and apparent homogeneity of the Clovis lithic assemblage, and their utilization
of exotic fine-grained cherts and other crypto-crystalline raw materials, often obtained
from quarries located at great distances from the sites, in characterizing Clovis groups as
small bands of hunters whose diet consisted almost entirely of megafauna. These models
suggest that such an adaptive strategy would have required high logistical, residential and
territorial mobility (Haynes 1966, 1980; Jelinek 1967; Kelly 1995; Kelly and Todd 1988;
Martin 1967, 1973; Saunders 1980; Surovell 2000).
116
Recently, this portrayal of the Clovis groups as restless hunters in the singleminded quest for big-game has been questioned; alternative models suggesting that
Clovis social and economic organization likely reflected a broad spectrum of diverse
adaptations and behaviors have been proposed (Collins 1999a; Hofman 2000; Meltzer
1993, 1995; Stanford 1991). Clovis sites have been documented in diverse ecological
settings that would seem to indicate the utilization and exploitation of a wide variety of
ecological niches, ranging from the western mountains, Great Basin, desert southwest,
Great Plains, and eastern woodlands. This wide ranging geographical diversity coupled
with a period of rapid climatic and environmental changes evident during the late
Pleistocene/early Holocene (Haynes 1980, 1991, 1993, 2000a, 2000b; Holliday 1997;
Meltzer 1993, 1995; Stanford 1991; Waters 2000b), suggests that Clovis groups were
more likely generalist hunters and gatherers than specialized hunters (Collins 1999a:39;
Hofman 2000:43; Meltzer 1993:303; Stanford 1991:5).
The great diversity of stone tools (bifaces, unifaces, knives, blades, various forms
of scrapers, gravers, utilized flakes) that comprise the Clovis toolkit seemingly indicates
an equally varied range of activities (Collins 1999a; Hofman 2000; Stanford 1991).
Moreover, use-wear analysis of Clovis points suggests that they were utilized for a range
of tasks, and not merely as projectiles (Hofman 2000; Collins 1999a). Additionally, large
habitation sites, such as the Gault and Aubry sites, have recently been documented
(Collins 2002). These sites contain significant buried deposits extending over a square
kilometer, and are situated in close proximity to permanent water sources, and indicate
that at least some Clovis campsites were more extensively occupied than previously
117
thought. In Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas the Clovis occupation is well represented,
and constitute the region with more stratified sites and intact buried deposits.
Arizona
The state of Sonora has many similarities with the state of Arizona. They share the same
desert, and the human adaptations to this environment are very similar during the entire
history of the region (Mabry 2007). The Clovis sites on the San Pedro River, in southeast
Arizona, are among the best understood (including mammoth and bison kill sites, and
camp sites), with an unusually complete record of late quaternary depositional,
pedological and erosional events, and complete series of radiocarbon dates (Haynes 1991,
1993, 2000a, 2000b, 2007; Huckell 2004, 2007; Taylor et al. 1996). These San Pedro
River sites are located but a few kilometres north of the international border between
Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.
Two sites located outside the San Pedro River valley have been reported in
Arizona (Huckell 1978, 1982, 2004). In 1976 and 1981, Bruce Huckell carried out limited
excavations at the Silktassel site, north of Phoenix; the Clovis occupation is represented
by a Clovis point, two end scrapers, one blade, one graver, and debitage (Huckell 1978,
1982:3). Recently, Huckell returned to the site and found one more blade. According to
Huckell the site has suffered much erosion and the land has been burned at least onces
(Bruce Huckell, personal communication 2009). At the multicomponent site AZ Y:8:100,
located northwest of Ajo, SWCA crew members found a Clovis occupation at the site,
and more work needs to be done to determine the nature of the Clovis occupation
(Huckell 2004:94). Beside these sites, there are 150 solitary Clovis points reported in the
118
state; all are isolated finds from the surface and are distributed in the Sonoran desert area,
and on the Colorado Plateau (Agenbroad 1967; Huckell 1982, 2004; North et al. 2005).
The San Pedro River Valley in southeast Arizona is a unique place with unique
preservation. Here, in an area of 31 km along the valley floor, different activities carried
out by Clovis groups were preserved. The site consist of mammoth, horse and bison kill
sites, butchering areas for processing meat, and areas for knapping stone tools; in some
areas the different activities overlapped (Haynes 2007; Huckell 2007). Fortunately, the
San Pedro sites are preserved in a complex stratigraphic framework, with deposit that
preserved events and archaeological contexts which were preserved intact and buried for
13,000 years. The archaeological record of the San Pedro Valley sites is summarized in
the table below.
The sites, all located within a 31 km stretch, were excavated by various people
between 1957and 1973. However, C. Vance Haynes Jr. was most instrumental for the
superb geoarchaeological work carried out at the sites. The Clovis group activities
represented at the sites are: hunting and butchering of megafauna; tool making activities
related to the manufacturing of tools for butchering; as well as curating/resharping tools
during activities. The knapping stations are well defined and concentrated in discrete
features, although they are at close proximity to the Pleistocene animal bones (Huckell
2007). The researchers deduce that the events represented at the San Pedro River sites
appear to be of short duration, and it is possible that they represented the activities of only
one group (Haynes and Huckell 2007).
119
Table 3.1. The Clovis archaeological record of the San Pedro Valley
Site Name
Site Type
Artifacts
Pleistocene Fauna
Naco
Kill site
8 complete
Clovis points
Single mammoth
Lehner
Kill site,
processing
13 Clovis points;
flakes, unifacial
tools, two
hearths; one
shallow roasting
pit
9 mammoths, 3
mammoths, bisonte,
camello, oso y
conejo asociados a
un canal. In the
roasting pit bones of
bears and rabbit
Escapule
Kill site
2 Clovis points
Partial mammoth
Luis
Escapule
1960?
Leikem
Kill site
1 Clovis point
Two mammoths
Navarrete
Hunting
Two mammoths, 50
meters upstream
from Naco
Murray
Spring
area 1, 2
and 3
Mammoth
kill,
butchering
Murray
Spring,
area 3
Kill site,
knapping
areas
Murray
Spring,
area 3 and
4
Multiple
bison kill
site,
knapping
area,
processing
area
Murray
Spring,
area 5
Clovis
camp an
horse
butchering
1 point proximal
fragment, 1
possible bone
tool
1 Clovis point,
tip of two others,
several stone
tools, 66
thinning flakes
and possible
bone artifacts
1 unifacial
cutting tool, used
flakes, cobble
hammers, 9467
lithic debris,
mammoth bone
shaft
9 Clovis points,
3 bifaces, 2
unifacial retouch
flakes, 4 utilize
blade and flakes,
2 cobble
hammers, 1560
lithic debitage,
three hearths
2 Clovis bases, 2
bifaces, one
preform,
unifacial retouch
blade , pebble
hammers, 1030
debitage
Slim
Leiken
1964
Marc
Navarrete
1973
Two disarticulated
mammoths,
mammoth tracks,
horse, 2 bison and
canids
C-14
Time of
Discovery
Navarrete
family
1951
11,160
from a
hearth,
and 12
from a
Clovis
stratum
10,949+/40
E. Lehner
1955
Charcoal
date of
11,150 BP
nearly a complete
mammoth, 2 bison,
canids, rodents
Multiple bison,
peccary and horse
Horse
10,760 +/100
Bibliograph
y
Haury et al.
1953;
Haynes
2007:1.
Haury at al.
1959;
Meringher
and Haynes
1965;
Haynes
1982c;
Haynes 2007
Hemmings
and Haynes
1969;
Haynes 2007
Haynes 2007
Huckell
1981;
Haynes 2007
Murray
Spring
project
1966-1972
Hemmings
1970;
Hemmings
2007;
Haynes 2007
Murray
Spring
Project
1971
Hemmings
1970;
Hemmings
2007;
Haynes
1974, 2007;
Huckell 2007
Hemmings
1970;
Hemmings
2007;
Haynes
2007;
Huckell 2007
Murray
Spring
Project
1968-1969
Murray
Spring
Project
1967
Hemmings
1970;
Hemmings
2007;
Haynes 2007
Huckell 2007
120
In Arizona, Clovis is followed by the Folsom complex of Late Paleo-Indian age;
however the two complexes do not share the same spatial distribution. Folsom is well
represented on the Colorado Plateau in Arizona and New Mexico and the Rio Grande
Valley in New Mexico (Faught and Freeman 1998). However, this complex is absent
within the Sonoran Desert. Huckell (1982) has reported 20 Folsom points for the state of
Arizona, with twelve located in the St. Johns area on the Colorado Plateau. One unique
late Paleo-Indian site reported in Arizona is the Badger Springs site, on the Colorado
Plateau and dated to 9,000 cyBP. Here, a child cremation and several Badger Spring unfluted lanceolate points, clearly related to Angostura, Agate Basin and Foothill Mountain
types were documented (Hesse et al. 2000).
At Ventana Cave, Huckell and Haynes (2003) reported a Sulphur Spring
component containing contracting steam projectile points, fire cracked rocks and informal
ground stone, and dating to about 8700 B.P. The Sulphur Spring complex was considered
as part of the Cochise culture previously defined by Sales and Antevs (1941). At
Whitewater Draw at the San Pedro Valley, the Sulphur Spring lithic assemblage is
represented by informal ground stone and fire crack rock. In 1985, Michael Water (1986)
came back to the sites described by Sales and Antevs and obtained 10 radiocarbon dates
from different features, all between 8100 and 9000 cyBP. Based upon the increase
manipulations of plants, represented by ground stone and roasting pits, the Sulphur Spring
complex could represent an adaptation of the Paleo-Indian hunters to a more archaic
subsistence pattern characteristic of the nascent Sonoran Desert (Huckell 1996).
121
New Mexico
Clovis and Folsom sites, the landmark of Paleo-Indian archaeology, are located on the
Southern Great Plains of eastern New Mexico. Nonetheless, several sites in New Mexico
contained a complete array of Paleo-Indian and Early Archaic occupation (Holliday 1997,
2005). Black Water Draw, Mockingbird Gap Sites are the important Clovis sites in New
Mexio; approximately 350 Clovis points have been register in the state, the majority of
them are from Socorro County (Hamilton 2008, http://pidba.org). In 1927, Karl
Schwachheim working for paleontologists Harold Cook and Jesse Figgings were
excavating a complete specimen of a Bison antiquus of late Pleistocene age, they
discovered a beautiful lanceolate fluted projectile point (Folsom style) between two ribs
of the animal (Cook 1927, 1928; Figgins 1927). In 1933, Edgar B. Howard was show the
Clovis site, when he was looking for early sites in the area; the site is located between the
town of Clovis and Portales, New Mexico (Cotter 1937; Howard 1935). Folsom and
Clovis sites are fundamental for the establishment of the geochronology of the first
Americans. The Clovis site was investigated for 30 years following its discovery
(Holliday 2005; Sellards 1952; Warnica 1966). The investigations at this locality
represent the first multidisciplinary archaeological research and made it possible to
establish a geological framework for the archaeological record of the first Americans
(Antevs 1935, 1949; Clarke 1938; Patrick 1938; Stock and Bode 1936).
At Black Water Draw locality 1 (the Clovis site), the remains of Clovis
occupations are located at the margins of a paleo-lake that measures 300x300 meters and
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fed by springs. The site was exposed on the surface by mining of gravel. The
archaeological remains are represented by eight mammoths, and several bison bone beds
(Sellards and Evans 1960). One of the bison beds, two camp sites, and two bison with
associated artifacts, are each dated at 10,800 cyBP (Holliday 2005; Meltzer 1983).
Warnica (1966) reported that approximately 500 artifacts were collected from different
localities. At least 12 Clovis points were collected, together with, end scrapers, blades,
lateral scrapers, including debitage from the bone beds and the encampments.
Another important Clovis site of New Mexico is the Mockingbird Gap Site. It is
located forty kilometers southeast of Socorro, New Mexico and it is one of the largest
Clovis sites in western North America, the site consisting of a Clovis Lithic scatter in an
area of 800 m by 80-150 m on a northeast-southwest trending ridge composed of sand
and gravel, capped by s strongly developed gypsite/calcrete, and bordering the floor of
Chupadera Wash. Projectile point bases, fluted point preforms, end scrapers, gravers, and
other flake tools represent the principal artifacts. No bones were present at the site which
appears to be a camp site located very close to the surface. The site has not been dated
(Holliday et al. 2009; www.argonaut.arizona.edu/projects/mockingbirdgap).
Texas
Clovis points are very common and are distributed all over Texas. Llano Estacado has the
highest density of Clovis artifacts, but they are also present in the panhandle, Daton
County, Edwards Plateau, and the Lubbock area. Here we will discuss only three sites:
Aubrey, Gault, and Pavo Real, although many important Clovis sites have been found in
Texas, including the Kincaid and Montell rock shelters.
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The Aubrey Clovis site is located on a lag of a late Pleistocene channel at 7.9-9
meters below the modern floodplain of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, which began
aggrading during the Clovis period. The site is located at North Central Texas between
the rolling Plains and the Gulf Coastal Plain (Ferring 2001; Haynes 2002). This site
represents the oldest Pleistocene Clovis site on record in North America dated to ~11,550
B.P. (Ferring 2001). Approximately 170 1x1 m units have been excavated. The site is
composed by seven localities with a wide range of lithic artifacts, numerous hearths,
bison kill site and at least 12,000 fragments of bones have been collected (Ferring 2001,
Haynes 2002). At least one bison kill locus with a blade and re-sharpening flakes was
excavated. Two distinct camp areas are present at the site with over 6000 lithic artifacts,
including Clovis points, blades, end scrapers and bifaces (Ferring 2001). Two knapping
activity areas appear to be present; one specialized in bifacial reduction and the other in
unifacial reduction (Ferring 2001). Apparently, the Clovis occupations of the site were
short (Ferring 2001; Witt 2005).
Gault is a site located midway between Georgetown and Ft. Hood, Texas, in a
constricted head of a small valley. The site extends over 800 by 200 meters and it is a
stratified site with an important Clovis occupation, although the early and late Holocene
occupations of the site are well represented. Clovis people were attracted to the site,
surely for the several springs present, and a quarry of the fine chert for tool knapping. The
artifacts occur in primary contexts within pond clays and in overlying floodplain
deposits. Localities at the site are composed of Clovis knapping stations, often in
association with Pleistocene animal remains. It is believed that a total of 600,000 lithic
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artifacts have been excavated. Clovis artifacts included fluted projectile points, bifaces in
all stages of reduction, blade cores, blades, core tablets, end scrapers, drills, knifes and
debitage among
other artifacts (Collins 1997, 2002). At the Lindsay Pit locality,
excavated by the Center for the Study of the First Americans, Texas A&M University
(Waters 2007), a knapping station was found for manufacturing blades and Clovis bifaces
using the same technological process (Dickens 2007). Blades and bi-products of the
Clovis blade technology are used to manufacture Clovis performs, suggesting that blade
technology and fluting were Clovis innovations (Dickens 2007). From the point of view
of the lithic technology, the Gault site is one the most important sites in North America.
The Pavo Real site is located at the east side of the Leon Creek Valley, North of
San Antonio, Texas. The site was quickly excavated in 1979 as part of a TxDOT project
(Hester 2003). The geochronology, analysis and interpretation were not completed until
2000 (Collins and Hudler 2003). The site measures 150x100 meters, and consists of lithic
artifacts scatter and fire crack rock distributed in five areas. It is a multi-component site
with Clovis, Folsom, early Archaic and late archaic occupations. The fire-cracked rock
features dated to 3600-2000 cyBP. In the central section of the site, area 3 and 4, and
overlapping Clovis, Folsom and Archaic occupations appear to indicate that the
deposition at the site was very slow during early Holocene times with very little soil
formation; there is no bone present at the site (Collins 2003). The Clovis artifact
assemblage at the site appears to indicate that many knapping activities were present; the
manufacture of blades appears to be an important activity along with bifaces and Clovis
points. Area 5 contained 14 conical cores, together with core tables, rejuvenation of the
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core platform flakes (Collins 2003). Summarizing the lithic complex at Pavo Real, at
least 5000 lithic debitage were recovered, together with Clovis bifaces, Clovis point
preforms, Clovis points, Folsom bifaces, Folsom point preforms, Folsom points, channel
flakes for both Clovis and Folsom, conical and wedge-shaped cores, blades, end scrapers,
gravers and a variety of unifacial tools (Collins 2003). The Pavo Real site appears to
comprise a lithic quarry, lithic manufacture and encampment located near to the river.
Summary of the Clovis Record in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas
The early Paleo-Indian archeological record in the Southwest and Texas is somewhat
patchy and dispersed. It is apparent that south-central Texas was an important territory for
Paleo-Indian groups. The availability of water, fine raw materials to manufacture tools
and pray animals probably were the most important commodities of the area. The
southern High Plains was another territory well known and exploited by the late
Pleistocene inhabitants. In Arizona, Clovis sites diminish greatly, and only in the
southeast corner of the state in the San Pedro River valley there is an archaeological
record with excellent preservation. The major difference between the regions is the
diminishing of conical blades cores and blades in Arizona, compared to the central region
of Texas. From the archaeological record it is fair to say that good lithics, water and
megafauna are important commodities of the Paleo-Indian life style.
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CHAPTER 4
GEOARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH AT PALEO-INDIAN SITES IN
SONORA
Dated at 11,500 radiocarbon years ago, the Clovis industry represents the oldest cultural
horizon in the Americas. Several well-known Clovis sites, including Naco, Lehner, and
Murray Springs, are located along the San Pedro River Valley in southeastern Arizona
(Haury et al. 1953, 1959; Haynes 1966, 1969, 1976, 1982, 1987, 2007; Hemmings 1970).
These sites are among the best understood (including mammoth and bison kill sites, and
camp sites), with an unusually complete record of late Quaternary depositional,
pedological and erosional events, and complete series of radiocarbon dates (Haynes 1991,
1993, 2000a, 2000b; Huckell 2007; Taylor et al. 1996). These San Pedro River sites are
located but a few kilometers north of the international border between Arizona and
Sonora, Mexico.
Relatively few systematic archaeological investigations have been carried out
within the state of Sonora, a region where even the ceramic period traditions remain
vaguely defined. My interests in the Paleo-Indian and Archaic occupations of Sonora
were kindled over a decade ago, when doing
research at the predominantly Early
Agriculture period/Trincheras tradition site of La Playa (SON F:10:3) demonstrated the
presence of significant Archaic period components, along with a Clovis point, bifaces,
and partially fossilized antler billets of probable Paleo-Indian affiliation. Additionally, the
remains of numerous species of Pleistocene fauna (Equus, Camelops, Mammuthus, Bison
Antiquus, Sigmodon, cervids and Antilocapra, along with an exceptional number of
tortoises (Gopherus or Hesperatudae) (Jim Mead, personal communication 2003). The
127
bones were deposited on a silty-clay alluvial stratum of late Pleistocene age at top of a
well expressed red soil of Pleistocene age (probable similar to “Big Red” soil with Bt-Bk
horizonation) (Carpenter et al. 2005:20)
In 1997, an informal research project to identify and document Clovis and other
Paleo-Indian artifacts housed in museum collections and private collections began. Then
all the collectors where contacted and photographs of most of the artifacts in their
collections where made with the help of Julio Montane, Elisa Villalpando and John
Carpenter. Time was spent attempting to relocate and document the known locales
suggesting of probable Paleo-Indian contexts. In 2003, the project Geoarqueología y
Tecnología Lítica de los sitios Paleoindios de Sonora was born, and has been a
coordinated effort of systematic geoarchaeological Paleo-Indian research program until
today.
The late Pleistocene/early Holocene archaeological record of Sonora is robust and
highly visible, even though the level of investigations in Sonora is very limited. A
possible explanation for this visibility is that late Pleistocene deposits still preserved in
many places, and the rapidly deflating surfaces due in part to recent overgrazing is
exposing archaeological remains. Our ongoing efforts to document artifact collections
and known localities indicate that the northern half of Sonora was extensively occupied
during the late Pleistocene/early Holocene, represented by Paleo-Indian sites and a wide
spread distribution of isolated Clovis points (Figure 4.1).
128
Figure 4.1. Distribution of localities in Sonora (modified from
www.hermosillohistoria.com)
129
To date, geoarchaeological investigations have been carried out at four sites and
testing have been done at three other sites: El Bajio (SON K:1:3), El Gramal (SON
N:11:20), El Aígame (SON O:3:1), SON J:16:8; and Fin del Mundo (SON J:6:1) , have
yielded abundant Paleo-Indian artifacts and features, and the project has visited many
other localities that are under investigation (Figure 4.1).
The El Bajio Site (SON K:1:3)
The first season of field work investigating the Paleo-Indian occupation of Sonora was
carried out at the El Bajio site, in the municipio of Opodepe. With a vast quantity of
Clovis diagnostic artifacts, this site presents the greatest evidence for Paleo-Indian
occupation yet known in the state. In many localities, the artifacts appear to have been
recently exposed through erosion and, thus, the possibility for buried contexts exists.
The El Bajio site is located approximately 15 kilometers southeast of the town of
Opodepe and 40 km NE of Carbo, on the southwest piedmont of the Sierra San Jeronimo
(Figure 4.1). The Sierra San Jeronimo is the range that separates the parallel valleys of the
Río San Miguel and the wide valley of the Río Zanjon. The Río Zanjon Valley is situated
in the parallel valleys and mountain ranges of Sonora physiographic province and
presents a broad, sediment fill valley, more than 30 kms wide, that runs north-south
immediately to the west of the more heavily eroded valley of the Río San Miguel (Figure
4.2). These valleys form part of the Río Sonora drainage basin; both emptying into the
Río Sonora in the vicinity of Hermosillo, which in turn, debouches into the Sea of Cortes
at Estero Tastiota, on the Central Coast.
130
Figure 4.2. Regional Topography surrounding the site.
The site is located at a median elevation of 800 meters above mean sea level, and
is situated on a pediment where it forms a small, slightly inclined, irregularly-shaped
bajio, or low-lying area, created by the piedmont of the granitic Sierra San Jeronimo to
the northwest, and a series of volcanic peaks of basalt that comprise the Cerro La Vuelta,
which trend northwest-southeast at the extreme southern edge of the site; apparently
represent a more recent volcanic phenomenon that interrupted the more ancient granitic
slope of the Sierra San Jerónimo, forming irregularly shaped lower-lying areas (Figure
4.3). This unique situation promotes the formation of small alluvial fans that deposit
131
sediments covering the mountain pediment, possibly creating conditions where water
could have accumulated at the end of the Pleistocene/beginning of the Holocene.
Presently, springs do not appear to exist within this very arid zone.
Figure 4.3. Topographic Location of the El Bajío Site (INEGI 1:50,00 San Jeronimo).
Annual precipitation here is 309.3 mm, of which approximately 190 mm falls
during the cyclonic summer storms, or chubascos (Turner and Brown 1994:218). The site
reflects a transitional biotic community; a finger of the Sinaloan thornscrub (matorral
espinoso sinaloense) extends north through the adjacent valley of the Río San Miguel,
intermixing with the Sonoran Desert vegetation. The local flora is represented by thorny
132
shrubs with riparian plants along the margins of the drainages. The landscape displays
stands, or open forests, of ironwood (Olneya tesota), mesquite (Prosopis velutina),
various species of paloverde (Cercidium sp.), ocotillo (Fouquieria macdougalii), palo
blanco (Ipomea arborescens), pochote (Ceiba acuminata), and cacti, including pitahaya
(Stenocereus thurberi), chollas (Opuntia sp.) and various species of agave (Agave sp.).
Dispersed low shrubs are scarce, but include hierba del vaso (Encelia farinosa) and
sangregado (Jatropha cardiophilla). Among the characteristic fauna, are white-tailed deer
(Odicoileus virginianus), mule deer (Odicoileus hemionus crooki), coyote (Canis
latrans), peccary (Dicotyles tajacu), cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus audubon), hare (Lepus
californicus), desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizi), numerous rodents (Neotoma sp.,
Peromyseus sp., Perognathus sp.), and a widevariety of birds (Turner and Brown 1994).
In 1996, Julio Montane took John Carpenter, Elisa Villalpando and me to the El
Bajio site, and immediately upon our arrival, we found four distal fragments of Clovis
points and preforms. Two years later, during another visit accompanied by Vance Haynes
and Paul Fish, who found a nearly complete Clovis point in two fragments, separated by a
distance of four meters; although the fracture was not recent, the point appeared to have
eroded from buried contexts. Considering the large quantity of tools collected by Manuel
Robles, Julio Montané and the McIntyre´s indicates that it is one of the largest Clovis
sites in western North America.
Initiating research at the site was difficult, given that the landowner prohibited
entry to his ranch. After three months of intense negotiations, at every level, Señor
Molina at last relented, giving us permission to conduct the field work carried out
133
between April 28th and June 7th, of 2003. In order to better understand the site and its
setting we decided to implement a research strategy based upon total survey coverage of
the area following the method proposed by Fish and Kowaleski (1990). The explicit
objectives of the systematic survey were to identify the site boundaries, identify the
various localities within the site, and to identify those loci with the greatest probabilities
of containing buried contexts. Additionally, we carried out extensive surveys of all arroyo
exposures to identify any buried stratigraphic horizons and paleontological elements
present. Systematic collections of the loci, all diagnostic artifacts (Paleo-Indian and
Archaic), test excavations in selected locations, and extensive excavations of some of the
surface features that had been documented were then conducted in order to possibly
identify any buried Paleo-Indian contexts and attempt to reconstruct the site depositional
history.
The site extends over an area of four square kilometers, with a low to moderate
distribution of artifacts observed throughout, with 22 distinct loci defined (Figure 4.4).
These loci are found distributed along the pediment, in the low-lying terrain of the bajio,
and upon the hilltops. The most important locus and what is probably responsible for
attracting human groups to visit this area originally, is the raw material source of vitrified
basalt that outcrops on Cerro de La Vuelta in the southwestern portion of the site. The
loci were defined on the basis of surface artifacts; the total area of each locus was
determined and its UTM location determined by a GPS, datums were established and a
detailed sketch map created. Systematic collections of surface artifacts were conducted
via a standardized dog-leash method with a radius of one meter, along with the collection
134
of diagnostic artifacts. Additionally, each locality was evaluated with regard to its
probability of containing late Pleistocene/early Holocene deposits. All loci identified
were documented independently of their chronological/cultural affiliation. Both
diagnostic artifact type and degree of patina present were utilized in determining those
loci with a presumed Clovis/early Paleo-Indian affiliation.
Tabla 4.1. Cultural Affiliations of the El Bajío Loci
CULTURAL
AFFILIATION
Paleo-Indian
PaleoIndian/Archaic
Archaic
Ceramic
LOCUS #
TOTAL
1,4,5,6,7,10,12,18, 11, 22
20,2,3,15, 8,16, 21
10
8
9,14,19
13
3
1
135
Figure 4.4. Location of the El Bajio Site Loci (Modified from INEGI map La Poza
1:50.000).
A total of eight loci were selected for additional test excavations and/or extensive
excavation of documented features. The selection process was based upon the character
of the surface artifacts collected, the immediate geomorphology present and the
observable stratigraphy of each locus. A total of 10 hand dug test trenches and three 1.0 x
1.0 meter test units were excavated. Extensive excavations of visible surface features,
including two knapping stations and 10 hornos (thermal features) in dispersed locales,
were also carried out. Predominantly disarticulated hornos of fire-cracked rock are
136
common features at the El Bajío site. In 2003, we documented 110 hornos and the
McIntyre’s had previously registered some 600 hornos. It should be noted that most of the
horno features lack contextual integrity, and it therefore appears that the site surface has
been subjected to a high degree of alteration; we invested a great amount of time in
identifying the 10 intact and semi-intact hornos, that were subsequently excavated.
Several samples for radiocarbon dates were obtained from different trenches and feature
(Table 4.1), but no Paleo-Indian buried feature or surface was found, even though the
lithic assemblages at the surface suggested a clearly Paleo-Indian occupation.
Table 4.2. Radiocarbon dates from El Bajío
Sample no.
Locus
A-13267
A-13268
B-188544
A-59681-13270
11
11
6
15
A-59681-13270.1 15
A-59680-13269
15
B-188544
12
5
A-15396
Excavation
unit
Trench 2
Trench 4
Trench 8
Trench 6
C14 date
Material dated
Stratigraphic unit
5390+/-120
4135+/-95
3560+/-40
2225+/-35
soil residue
soil residue
Charcoal
Soil residue (upper)
A2 black mat?
A2 black mat?
Red soil
Unit 1 clay deposit
Trench 6
Trench 6
hearth
Horno 50
1665+/-50
5180+/-45
1980+/-40
Soil residue (upper) Unit 1 clay deposit
Soil residue (lower) Unit 1 clay deposit
Charcoal
Cgarcoal
1260+/-35
At present is impossible to create an accurate general x-section of the site
depositional history. However, it is evident that the site area is underlain by a Pleistocene
basin fill with a well expressed red soil (“Big Red” with Bt-Bk horizonation) probably
dating between 25,000-15,000 years ago. Carbonates and alluvial deposits formed on top
of this surface, although in many places of the site the “big red” is heavily weathered and
exposed to the surface. A silty-clay dark gray stratum, probably a cienega-like deposit,
137
was documented in three of the test trenches dating between 4500 and 5000 years old and
most likely represents the onset of the Altitermal period.
Locus 20 (Vitrified Basalt Quarry)
As was mentioned previously, the vitrified basalt raw material source was undoubtedly
the principle reason why Paleo-Indian groups visited/inhabited this location; 98% of the
lithic material documented at the site was derived from this source. Outcrops of vitrified
basalt occur on Cerro La Vuelta (Figure 4.4), the highest elevation at the site, situated at
the southwest corner. Here, on the southern slope near the summit, an extensive outcrop
of vitrified basalt is present (Figure 4.6 and Figure 4.7), along with lithic waste material
dumps extending for a distance of more than 20 meters along with fragments of biface
preforms, hammer stones and abraders (Figure 4.8.). The principal quarry area extends
over a hectare (Figura 4.8). The vitrified basalt occurs naturally in prismatic and subprismatic blocks, and the quality of the raw material with regard to the production of
flaked stone tools is unpredictable.
Some blocks are fine-grained, and are thus quite knapable, while others reveal
abundant internal fractures and/or many inclusions of olivine crystals of varying sizes.
The raw material color is also extremely variable, ranging from a cream color to a jet
black. This material has the characteristic of developing a surface patina; the artifacts at
the site can display a thick yellow glaze patina, a thinner greenish patina, and a grey
patina. In addition to the principal quarry, there exist at least three other outcrops of raw
material within the northeast sector of the Cerro La Vuelta and hills adjacent to Locus 20.
138
This quarry appears to have been exploited mainly during Paleo-Indian and
Archaic periods. At the only locality where ceramics were documented, we observed that
the lithic artifacts were manufactured from water-worn cobbles of basalt, rhyolite and
diorite, with a notable absence of vitrified basalt. Locus 20 needs to be explored in much
more detail as it was discovered only on the penultimate day of the field season
(preliminary reconnaissance suggests the possible existence of artificial terraces with
deposits that could be excavated).
Figure 4.5. View of Cerro de La Vuelta and Locus 20 from Locus 5.
139
Figure 4.6. El Bajío vitrified basalt raw material.
Figure 4.7. Lithic Waste Dump at Locus 20.
140
Figure 4.8. Sketch Map of Locus 20.
Locus 1
Situated in the north-central sector of the site, Locus 1 encompasses an area of 2750
square meters. This locus is characterized by a moderate distribution (4-5 artifacts per
m²), with much higher artifact concentrations interspersed, and at least 19 probable horno
features (Figure 4.9). A lanceolate biface fragment with a square base of probable PaleoIndian affiliation was collected as a diagnostic artifact, along with many biface thinning
flakes and fragments of bifaces revealing a thick patina.
The archaeological materials in Locus 1 appear to be eroding out form the well
expressed red soil probably of late Pleistocene age (similar to the “Big Red” paleosol),
Holocene deposits are eroded in locus 1. The fire cracked rocks observed on the surface
141
appear to be greatly altered and scattered. An unsuccessful attempt was made to locate a
sufficiently intact feature that could be excavated in order to obtain flotation samples and
charcoal. No stratigraphic test trenches were implemented.
Figure 4.9. Sketch Map of Locus 1.
Locus 2
This locality is situated 100 meters to the southeast of Locus 1. Here the terrain is heavily
eroded by gullies of up to two meters in depth which delimit the artifact distribution,
which measures approximately 6400 square meters (Figure 4.10). The artifact density
varies from moderate to dense (from 5 to 10 artifacts per m²); the sole diagnostic artifact
collected is a large biface that could represent a Clovis perform. In addition, a large
number of biface thinning flakes, both with patina and without.
142
Although the surface is heavily eroded, it is possible that buried archaeological
features may exist in some places of the loci, however we did not carried out any test
trench excavations. We located old wooden stakes placed in a 20 meter grid, of 5x5 m
squares that are unquestionably relics of the controlled surface collections carried out by
Marian and Kenneth McIntyre in 1976. A total of ten, disarticulated hornos were
documented at this locus; the excavation of Horno #22 revealed only a dark matrix
lacking of charcoal or ash, evidence of a highly disturbed area.
Figure 4.10. Locus 2 Sketch Map.
143
Complex of Loci 3, 4, 5, 6 y 15 located west of Cerro Rojo
This group of loci represent the sector of the site with the greatest quantities of Clovis
artifacts, and form a spatial unit being located upon the pediment, extending northeastsouthwest upon a highly dissected alluvial remnant that forms a narrow ridge with the
same orientation, and from whence originate erosional head cuts emanating out in every
direction saves to the north. The crest of this ridge has an average elevation of 877 meters
amsl while the lower erosional features are at 860 meters amsl. The complex of loci is
found within an area of 400 x 300 meters (Figure 4.11 an 4.12).
Locus 3 is the northernmost of the loci in this complex , with the coordinates.
Here we found the highest land of the loci at 879 meters amsl, with a moderate artifact
distribution and eight disarticulated hornos encompassing 15,000 square meters. During
the systematic survey (2003) no diagnostic Clovis artifacts were documented, however,
two San Pedro projectile points were collected of the Early Agriculture period, and much
lithic debitage lacking patina was observed. Nevertheless, in May of 1999 a fluted Clovis
preform, broke in two fragments separated by six meters distance from one another and
apparently having only been recently exposed through erosion was found (Figure 4.13).
During a site visit in 2002, near the southern limit of Locus 3 approaching Locus 4, a
group of three large bifaces, probably Clovis age, was documented eroding on the surface
(see Figure 4.14). Both of these discoveries appear to suggest of buried stratified contexts
of late Pleistocene/early Holocene age. Although no subsurface testing was implemented,
two hornos revealing shallow depths were excavated in Locus 3.
144
Figure 4.11. Topographic Map of Loci 3-6 and 15 with the location of test trenches.
145
Figure 4.12. View to the northeast of Loci 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12 and 15.
Figure 4.13. Clovis point from Locus 3.
146
Figure 4.14. Bifaces from Locus 3.
Locus 15 is situated to the southwest of Locus 3 and encompasses some 2800
square meters that include the northwest portion of the relatively flat alluvial remnant as
well as a segment of the erosional gullies that are oriented to the west (figure 4.12). In
this locus a concentration of bifaces were observed eroding from a small arroyo, and
appeared to have originated in a buried red soil. Here, a hand trench (Trench #6) was
excavated, and was subsequently extended to the dimensions of 6x4 meters, Extension 2
(figure 4.15).
Trench #6 was oriented NE-SW in the location where the bifaces had been
observed eroding to the surface (Figure 4.16). At 60 centimeters below the surface a
group of rocks lying atop the paleosol, or a stable surface at the 2-3 contact, were
observed; unit 2 appears to be a somewhat compacted reddish paleosol that was buried by
147
a loose sandy-silty alluvium. Lying upon this apparently artificial surface of rocks were
various artifacts, prompting the decision to extend the excavation in order to follow this
possible occupation surface. An area measuring 4x3 meters extending north from the
trench was opened. Unfortunately, the rock cap proved to be irregular although it is
unquestionably an archaic occupation surface with artifacts that included a San Pedro
projectile point Within units 2 and 4 clay-like deposits were observed, most likely
indicative of pond like (Startum1) from which various radiocarbon ages were obtained
ranging between 5000 and 2000 (Figure 4.17). Following excavations, the depositional
analyses indicated that the rock surface lies at an erosional contact and that the
depositional units 2 and 3 apparently cut through a well developed late Pleistocene soil
(stratum 4) dissected by a Holocene age channel.
Figure 4.15. Locus 15 Sketch Map.
148
Figure 4.16. Map of the rock feature excavated.
Figure 4.17. Profile of Trench 6.
149
Locus 4 is comprised by gullies located southeast of Loci 5 and 15 (Figure 4.18).
These gully channels are oriented both north-south and east-west. This locus comprises
12,000 square meters at elevations ranging from 872 to 875 meters amsl. There are many
more diagnostic Clovis artifacts around the bajadas than in the less eroded terrain above,
prompting us to believe that it was likely that the Clovis artifacts originate in the old,
well-developed, red soil that appeared to represent the buried stratigraphic unit observed
beneath the surface deposits at Locus 3. Twenty diagnostic Clovis artifacts were
collected, including the distal fragment of a Clovis point, fluted on both sides, distal
fragment of a point (the size and raw material indicating a probable Clovis point), eight
bifaces (one displaying a flute), three prismatic blades, an end scraper on a blade, and a
conical Clovis core. We placed Trenches 1 and 5 in this location. Additionally, two
shallow horno features were excavated in order to collect C-14 samples and
archaeobotanical flotation samples.
Trench 1 was established in the area where numerous Clovis artifacts (including
the fluted Clovis point) had been collected, and where the remains of a well-developed
red soil that is thought to represent the glacial maximum. The 10 m long trench was
excavated to a depth of 220 cm, although artifacts were only recovered in the initial 20
cm. At least three distinct depositional episodes are evident (Figure 4.19): In the bottom
of the trench a well expressed red soil (“Big Red” with Bt-Bk horizonation) with calcium
carbonate nodules (Stratum1) is observed. Stratum 1 was cut by a channel containing two
depositional units; (Stratum 2a) coarse sand with gravels in a reddish-brown matrix 105
150
cm thick and Stratum 2b, a brown sandy-silt overlying and interfingering the lower
deposits.
Figure 4.18. Locus 4 Sketch Map.
Figura 4.19. South profile of trench 1 in Locus 4.
151
Trench #5 was placed approximately 80 meters to the south of Trench #1 where a
concentration of Clovis tools was documented (including a distal fragment of a Clovis
point with fluted base, a probable Clovis point fragment of quartz crystal. Trench #5 was
eight meters long and only a few flakes were recovered within the uppermost 10
centimeters. The two depositional units documented, appear to be related to fluvial
activities (Figure 4.20): Unit 1 reflects a deposit of sands and gravels with a few cobbles
intermixed; Unit 2 is a loose sand and gravel matrix of brown color, possibly of recent
deposition.
Figure 4.20. Profile of Trench 5.
Locus 5 is situated to the south of Locus 15 at an elevation of 876 meters on semiflat terrain at the crest of remnant deposits, and encompassing an area of 7,500 meters
square (Figures 4.21). Here the red well developed soil, thought to be of Pleistocene age,
is much closer to the present surface than at Locus 3, and the artifacts appear to be
eroding from the upper contact surface of the possible Pleistocene age surface.
152
Figure 4.21. Sketch Map of Locus 5.
This locus contains the highest quantity of archaeological materials among the loci
identified at the El Bajío site. The diagnostic Clovis artifacts recovered include three
blades, two bifaces, two unifacial tools and a flake with a prepared platform. Twenty-four
fire-cracked-rock features were documented along with an apparent knapping station
consisting of blades, debitage and other tools that gave the illusion have having buried
deposits. A single horno feature (Horno #50) was excavated in order to obtain datable
carbon and archaeobotanical remains, from which a date of 1260+/-35 was obtained (A15396) (Figure 4.22).
153
Figure 4.22. Excavated Horno 50 (A-15396 = 1260+/-35).
In the extreme southeast section of Locus 5, there was a concentration of
archaeological materials within a 4x3 m area containing approximately 250-300 artifacts,
among which were blades, scrapers and cores. A 3x4 m grid of 1x1 m square units was
established and the artifacts collected by quadrant (Figure 4.23). Each unit was
subsequently excavated in 10 cm levels to a depth of 30 cm without recovering a single
subsurface artifact; it appears that this feature had recently eroded to the surface it most
likely had been previously exposed to one or more erosional events and lacked contextual
integrity. The tool makers of Feature 1 brought large subangular blocks, almost
unmodified, from the Quarry (locus 20), located one kilometer to the southwest; at least
five blades, one scrapers and broken primary bifaces are among the recognizable artifacts;
the rest of the lithic materials in the feature are angular debris and primary flakes.
154
Figura 4.23. Plan view of surface feature 1 in locus 5.
The enamel of a proboscidian tooth was found between Locus 5 and Locus 6
(Figure 4.22). A 1x1 m unit was excavated to investigate whether there were additional
remains of the mastodon; unquestionably this element had been redeposited. However,
155
these remains indicate the potential for encountering buried late Pleistocene remains at
the site were.
Figura 4.24. Highly eroded Proboscidian molar.
Locus 6 is situated to the west of the Cerro Rojo, encompasses 6,600 square
meters. This locality is the southwestern most among this complex of loci, and is the
lowest lying locus at 866 meters amsl, some 10 meters below loci 3 and 5 (see Figure
4.25). In this area, a much redder soil, with many more calcium carbonate inclusions is
observed, and appears to represent the Last Glacial Maximum surface. Locus 6 contains a
dense concentration of diagnostic Clovis artifacts plus a high quantity of lithic artifacts of
non-local high quality raw materials. Also observed were two areas containing cores and
debitage where the qualities of raw material were likely tested (various flakes of nonlocal cherts and obsidian were collected). Diagnostic Clovis artifacts recovered from this
156
locale include 5 blades, a conical core, a side scraper, end scraper made on a red chert
blade (Figure 4.26). The end scraper is identical to one recovered Murray Spring Clovis
site in Arizona (C. Vance Haynes Jr., personal communication, 2003), and a large biface.
Trenches #7 and #8 were excavated within this locus.
Figure 4.25. Locus 6 Sketch Map.
157
Figure 4.26. Red chert end-scraper similar to one at Murray Spring site in Arizona.
Trench #8 was established in the lower-lying portion of Locus 6. Here bifaces and
blades appeared to have recently eroded to the surface of a buried deposit. At least three
Straum were observed (Figure 4.27). Flakes were found down to the contact with stratum
B1, which is the base of the channel that cut through unit A1; a radiocarbon age of
3560+/-40 was obtained from an ash stain with associated flakes within the gravelly sand
well consolidate channel
158
Figura 4.27. Profiles the trench 8 in Locus 6.
In sum, the investigations carried out among Loci 3, 4, 6 and 15 demonstrated this
zone to be the most important area of the site, with a great number of artifacts directly
associated with a Clovis/Paleo-Indian occupation and that appear to represent an intensive
and continuous occupation in this location. Preliminary geoarchaeological investigations
in this area of the site appear to indicate that the Clovis artifacts are eroding out from a
red soil believed to be of Pleistocene age and maybe associated with the glacial
maximum, it is possible that the red soil is the Clovis surface that is preserved in few
zones but eroded out in the majority of the area (Trenches #1, #5, #6 and in Locus 4 and
Locus 5.
Although we could not identify the intact deposits that buried the Clovis
occupation during the field season, we are confident that more extensive research would
159
be successful on finding the buried deposits. The existence of Paleo-Indian artifacts that
appear to be eroding out of buried contexts in Locus 3 and the presence of the
proboscidian tooth, apparently indicate that late Pleistocene/early Holocene depositional
contexts may exist at the site area.
To the east of this group of loci there is a small red hill (Cerro Rojo) with a great
quantity of quartz nodules that were utilized in tool production. This hill is also a source
of red ochre, an important pigment for various epochs, including the Paleo-Indian period.
Julio Montané collected a large quantity of end scrapers and side scrapers with remnants
of red ochre pigment during his investigations at the vicinity of this hill; the Cerrito Rojo
appear to be an important specific activity area (Julio Montané, personal communication,
2003).
Locus 7
Locus 7 is situated upon the pediment, approximately 600 meters to the east of Locus 4.
This locus comprises approximately 31,200 square meters within a zone that is heavily
dissected by small arroyos (Figure 4.28). Although the artifact density here is much lower
than those previously reported, the majority of the artifacts observed on the surface have a
Paleo-Indian affiliation, and the generally excellent state of preservation suggest a recent
exposure. Among the artifacts collected are 12 blades, a conical core, core tablets, and
two finely made on blades end scrapers. Trench 10 was excavated here in order to find
the buried archaeological features.
160
Figure 4.28. Locus 7 Sketch Map.
Trench #10 was placed in an area of dense Paleo-Indian surface artifacts
(predominantly blades). The artifacts appear to have been expose to the surface recently,
with no evidence of redeposition, and are in a generally excellent state of preservation. A
handful of flakes were recovered within the first 20 centimeters of subsurface sediments.
The trench presents at least six different stratum of both alluvial and a very low energy
depositional process (Figure 4.29). The basal Unit 1 is a silty-sand with calcium
161
carbonate. Stratum 2, is a gray silty-clay matrix, directly overlying Unit 1and represents a
low energy fluvial deposits, maybe a pond deposit. Locus 7 is considered to be an ideal
location to seek buried Paleoindian deposits in the future.
Figura 4.29. Generalized profile of Trench 10.
Locus 8
Located 300 meters to the south of Locus 7 comprises an area of 17,000 square meters on
top of a crest/mesa oriented NE-SW to the north of one of the largest arroyo channels at
the site (Figure 4.30). This locus contains a scatter of artifacts and approximately 17 firecracked rock features, many disarticulated but with some remaining in an excellent state
of preservation; at least some of which appear to be surface hearths rather than
subterranean roasting features (hornos). On the surface, it appears that the underlying
alluvium is very red in color with calcium carbonate and it does not seem likely to be a
162
late Holocene deposit. The Archaic/Early Agriculture period, represented by San Pedro
projectile points, reflects the predominant cultural affiliation is this locus. However, a few
Paleo-Indian artifacts, including a distal fragment of a Clovis preform, one end scraper
and a square-based biface were also recovered here. No test trenching was performed;
however, three horno features were excavated.
Figure 4.30. Locus 8 Sketch Map.
163
Figure 4.31. Clovis Preform collected at Locus 8.
Locus 10
This locus comprising 30,000 square meters on the rocky terrace of a low hill adjacent to
Cerro La Vuelta, situated 400 meters to the north of the vitrified basalt quarry (Locus 20),
and represents the locus in closest proximity to this feature. Although there were various
artifact concentrations that could possibly represent features, detailed inspection revealed
the absence of any buried contexts; the surface artifact concentrations proved to be due to
cattle disturbance and the artifacts were heavily damaged by trampling. However, a great
quantity of diagnostic Clovis artifacts was collected from Locus 10, and, in general, a
light but consistent scatter of surface artifacts extends between this locus and to the west
of the road at Locus 21 (Figure 4.32). Two Clovis preforms, two bifaces displaying
characteristic Clovis technology, a fragment of a fluted biface (heavily damaged by cattle
164
trampling) that could be a Clovis point fragment, four end scrapers (Figure 4.33), six
blades, and a core were collected at this locus. This area appears to have very few
sedimentary deposits in accord with both Julio Montané and the McIntyre’s who
expended much time and energy here during their respective investigations (Julio
Montané, personal communication, 2002).
Figure 4.32. Locus 10 Sketch Map.
165
Figure 4.33. End scrapers from Locus 10.
Locus 11
This locus comprises an area of 710,500 square meters of a low terrace on the hill
adjacent to the north of Locus 10 at a distance of some 200 meters. In contrast with Locus
10, this locus indeed presents buried deposits, and there are at least six horno features
visible on the surface; some of which contain rocks with patina and could possibly be of
some antiquity (figure 4.32).
166
Figure 4.34. Locus 11 Sketch Map.
Locus 11 is dissected by numerous arroyos where artifacts can be observed; no
diagnostic Clovis artifact was collected, although several bifacial thinning flakes along
with fragments of bifaces with patina evident that could perhaps share a Clovis affiliation.
A well developed stratum composed of clay-silt dark brown that could perhaps be of
terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene deposit that marks a brief period of intense cold and
humidity (black-mat) was observed in the wall profile of an arroyo parallel to the road
that passes north-south through the locus. Trenches 2, 3 and 4 were clean out in the
arroyo close to the dirt road. Three strata were observed at the profiles (Figure 4.35-4.37).
167
Stratum 2 is a strong and well developed soil composed by clay and sand, two
radiocarbon dates obtained from the stratum confirms that the cienega formation occurred
during the middle Holocene. Soil residue of stratum 2 in trench #2 was radiocarbon dated
at 5390+/-120 (A-13267) (Figure 5.35) and soil residue from the same stratum in
trench#4 (Figure 4.37) was dated at 4135+/-95 (A-13268). One horno feature was also
excavated (Figure 4-38). The feature have a heavy patina, and the horno appear to be old,
however a C14 dated the roasting pit to the 17th Century (A-15395 = 315+/-40).
Figura 4.35. Generalized profile Trench 2.
168
Figure 4.36. East Profile of trench 2.
Figura 4.37. Generalized profile trench 4.
169
Figure 4.38. Horno 102 in locus 11, C14 date (A-15395 = 315+/-40) .
Locus 12
Located in the northwest sector of the site, there is a small, irregularly-shaped bajo,
approximately 300 meters to the northwest of Locus 1 (Figure 4.39). The locus concist of
a dense concentration of artifacts (total = 638) within a 5x3 meter area. Artifacts
represented on the surface include three fragments of square-based lanceolate bifaces and
numerous biface thinning flakes, along with other debitage, and some other tools; all
manufactured from the Cerro La Vuelta vitrified basalt source. This component was
designated as a lithic workshop and was excavated as a surface feature. The lanceolate
bifaces, displaying overshot flaking, may or may not reflect a Clovis technology.
170
Figure 4.39. Locus 12, Southwest View from Cerro la Vuelta
Excavations at the Locus 12 Lithic workshop. In order to conduct a controlled
collection of the surface artifacts and excavate this feature, a 5x3 meter grid was divided
into 50 cm x 50 cm units (Figure 4.40). All surface artifacts were collected and their
point proveniences recorded. Each 50x50 cm unit was further subdivided into NE, SE,
NW and SW (25 cm x 25 cm) quadrants.
This feature continues to a depth of at least 22 centimeters, with virtually
thousands of biface thinning flakes, at least 12 square-based projectile points preforms,
broken during manufacture were recovered; three of these bifaces could be refitted from
171
the fragments recovered (Figure 4.41). We estimate that approximately 4,000 artifacts
were recovered from this feature; as we were unable to excavate this feature in its entirety
during the 2003 field season, and an unknown number of artifacts still remain.
Additionally, we recovered a pebble with an incised groove, a scraper and three
fragments of irregular bifaces (Figure 4.42). Although the manufacturing technique,
utilizing asymmetrical overshot flaking and basal thinning with several small flutes, is
suggestive of Clovis technology, these triangular lanceolate bifaces cannot be positively
identified as diagnostically Clovis; however, at the Blackwater Draw Clovis Site Warnica
(1966:349) reported a similar point. At least some of these bifaces appear to have been
completed, given that they display lateral and basal grinding and it is therefore probable
that they represent finished tools.
A hearth containing charcoal was encountered at the extreme northern edge of the
excavation, of which only one half could be excavated (as it was found on the last day of
the field season) (Figure 4.43). A charcoal sample produced a radiocarbon age of 1980+/40 (B-188544). As this hearth was situated so close to the surface, it seems likely that it
was contaminated, given that we know there was a significant late Archaic occupation at
this section of El Bajío. The triangular points knapping feature appears to be resting at an
old red well developed soil that was covered by much less compacted brownish red silt.
Unit K-5 was excavated to below the contact with the red soil, confirming that the
artifacts are restricted to the deposits between the surface and the contact with the red
soil.
172
Figure 4.40. Topographic view of the excavation at Locus 12.
173
Figure 4.41. Square-based bifaces Locus 12 workshop.
174
Figure 4.42. Circular scraper, grooved polished sphere, irregular bifaces and a graver
from Locus 12.
Figure 4.43. Hearth in Locus 12.
175
Locus 19
This locus represents a small raw material extraction component where a vein of finegrained basalt is exposed at the surface on a small hill in the extreme southwestern sector
of the site. The exposed vein is situated at the northernmost part of the hill; however, the
entire upper portion of the hill is covered with artifacts, encompassing an area of 3,200
square meters (Figure 4.44). Artifacts include biface fragments, thinning flakes, tested
cobbles, hammer stones and tool sharpening scars in the bedrock. In addition to the finegrained basalt there are small (2-3 cm) nodules of obsidian that was possibly used for tool
making. No Paleo-Indian diagnostic tools were found at the locus.
Figure 4.44. Locus 19 Sketch Map.
176
Locus 22
Locus 22, a dense artifact scatter extending over a 6x8 meter area (Figure 4.45), is located
100 meters to the south of Locus 12, in the same little bajo. The lithic artifacts appear to
represent a knapping station/lithic reduction workshop similar to that at Locus 12.
Artifacts include a conical core, at least three fragments of the square-based bifaces, and
over 200 biface thinning flakes. Although this component is close to the present surface,
the cultural affiliation appears to be Paleo-Indian. No artifacts were collected in
contemplating further investigation in the future.
Figure 4.45. Locus 22 Sketch Map.
El Bajio Site: Summary and Conclusions of the Investigations
There is no doubt that El Bajio site is the most important Clovis locality that has been
found in Sonora. The vitrified basalt quarry at Cerro La Vuelta was one of the more
177
important resources for the Paleo-Indian and archaic groups of Sonora. El Bajío is the
only extensive large quarry of fine stones for manufacturing tools knows in Sonora.
The vitrified basalt exposure is unquestionably the most important single resource
that attracted Paleo-Indian groups to this location. The existence of quartz crystals, red
ochre and obsidian at the site also offered important available resources. The existence of
at least 10 well defined loci spread over the site area, appears to indicate that El Bajío is a
complex site of great importance with respect to residential mobility and land use pattern
of the Paleo-indian groups. While no springs, or spring deposits were documented, the
existence of black clay deposits appears to indicate that water accumulated in the lowerlying sink near to the group of loci near the Cerro Rojo, and fed by runoff from the
pediment and the runoff water of the little sierrita which includes Cerro de La Vuelta. The
group of loci (3-6 and 15) in the middle section of the site, together with Locus 7 west
and north of Cerro Rojo represents the most important area at the site (Figure 4.44); in
addition to presenting the likelihood of buried contexts, this group of loci appears to
suggest that this area was certainly utilized repeatedly on an annual basis over a much
greater span of time than is generally thought for the Paleo-Indian period. Additionally,
El Bajío is located in a transitional zone between two different landscapes; the
intervening basins of Sonora and the broad alluvial plain of the Rio Zanjon that remains
an open landscape from here to the coast (Figure 4.44).
178
Figure 4.46. Northeast view of the site from the Cerro La Vuelta Quarry.
During the 2003 season a field strategy was implemented that consisted in
collecting all the diagnostic artifacts found during the systematic survey (e.g. sherd,
archaic points, Paleo-Indian points, Paleo-Indian artifacts); with the purpose to obtaining
a representative collection of artifacts from the site. Also, surface archaeological features
were collected and controlled surface collections were made. The collections from El
Bajío housed at the Centro INAH Sonora, comprise 15,000 lithics; including flakes and
debris impossible to affiliate to a particular period. From the Paleo-Indian period the
collection contains 333 diagnostic artifacts; we determine that only 333 artifacts are
unquestionably affiliated with the Paleo-Indian period because they can be correlated to
179
diagnostic types collected at other Clovis sites in the US (e.g. Pavo Real, Gault, Adams).
It is important to note that the El Bajío materials do not contain a single example of late
Paleo-Indian projectile point (e.g. Folsom, Dalton, Golondrina points). The lack of late
Pale-Indian points lead us to suggest that the non projectile point diagnostic artifacts in
the assemblage (e.g. polyhedral cores, blades, end scrapers, etc.) most likely are affiliated
to the Clovis occupation of the site. During the 2003 season 150 diagnostic Paleo-Indian
artifacts were collected, despite that the site has been extensively collected over the
presiding 30 year prior to the 2003 season, these suggests that archaeological features
remain intact under the surface of the site and recent erosion is moving the artifacts to the
surface. The archaic period is represented by 20 points collected during 2003. The
majority of the archaic points are associated to Elko, San Pedro and Pinto-San Jose types.
The El Bajío site is quite complex site archaeological and geological; although
archaic components are present at the site, Among the more conspicuous features are
hornos; although we believe these features are not associated with the Paleo-Indian
occupation, it should be noted that at Ventana Cave an horno was dated to fire cracked
rocks and informal ground stone, dating to about 8700 BP (Huckell and Haynes 2003); at
the Wilson-Leonard site, the earliest hornos in Texas are dated to 9300 cy BP (Bushman
et al. 2002:988). Three radiocarbon dates obtained from the hornos confirmed that they
are affiliated to late prehistory and protohistoric periods.
It is evident that the site has suffered severe erosion and limited deposition. These
episodes are distributed in a patchwork manner across the site. The presence of the
proboscidian tooth enamel, buried artifacts and features appear to indicate the existence
180
of areas where buried Clovis contexts are likely to be found, and supports the need for
further systematic investigation at the site. Although we learned much about the El Bajio
site, unfortunately, our research remains inconclusive, because we didn’t have a good
understanding on the distribution of the terminal Pleistocene deposits until near the end of
the single field season. Now with the additional radiocarbon results, returning to those
likely loci and continue to search for buried contexts will be very important.
Investigations at this significant Clovis site most continue in the future.
The El Aígame Site (SON N:11:20)
The investigations at El Aígame began in the summer of 2005 after being denied
permission by Sr. Molina to enter his ranch property in November, 2004 in order to
continue planned investigations at El Bajío. As a result of this forced change in research
strategy, it was decided to continue investigating other known sites that yielded quantities
of Paleo-Indian artifacts. Although we visited various sites during the 2005 field season,
systematic work concentrated on the El Aígame site.
The site is located on both sides of Highway 16 (La Colorada-Sahuaripa) at
Kilometer 59 from Hermosillo, approximately 10 kilometers to the northeast of the town
of La Colorada (Figure 4.1). The site is situated in the Río Mátape drainage basin
between the Sierra de la Colorada and another mountain range on an open, rolling
landscape where numerous east-west trending arroyos discharge into the Río Mátape,
which, itself, is a perennial arroyo with a substantial subsurface flow. Although water
may not be evident in the arroyo bed, it can be easily obtained by relatively shallow
181
digging. At the historic Rancho El Aígame located a few kilometer east of the site, closer
to the Río Mátape, where water is obtained from shallow wells less than six meters deep.
Figure 4.47. North view of Locus 3 at El Gramal
El Aigame extends over an eroded zone between two tributary arroyos at an
elevation of 450 meters amsl. The basin of the Río Mátape is part of the Basin and Range
province of the Sonoran Plains Grasslands biotic community of the Sonoran Desert. The
annual precipitation in this area is 400 mm, supporting grasses and perennial shrubs. The
most prevalent grass species are Bouteloua bothrockii, Aristida sp., and Panicum obtusum
182
among other grasses, together with shrubby plants like ragweed (Ambrosia) and purslane
(Portulaca), and mesquite (Prosopis velutina). Also a few cacti are present in these
grasslands (Brown 1994:137). Excessive exploitation of the aquifers through groundwater
pumping has diminished the available moisture in these subtropical grassland mosaics
provoking their gradual transformation to Sonoran desert scrub. Water appears to have
existed since time immemorial given that the basin of the Río Mátape is characterized by
abundant subterranean aquifers where water from the sierra has accumulated.
The El Aígame site was discovered in 1971 by Javier Bustamante an engineer
specialized on the mining of graphite. With the participation of Manuel Robles, Javier
Bustamante began to collect artifacts from the site, and continued to do so for the next 20
years. Unfortunately, Javier Bustamante died in the winter of 2005, his artifact collection
remains in his family’s hands. His collection includes three Clovis points, several bifaces,
approximately 40 end scrapers, one modified blade and at least 100 biface thinning flakes
made on quartzite, basalt and different types of chert as well as 2 mammoth molars
(Figure 4.48), that he found eroding from a wall profile Most of the lithic material was
concentrated in a few areas, but not in proximity to the teeth.
183
Figure 4.48. Bustamante Mammoth Molars
The author visited the site with Javier Bustamante in March 2005, the majority of
Bustamante´s collection was found in one locality on the north side of the highway in a
small, well-defined area, but with much erosion. During our March, 2005 visit, a fluted
Clovis point base and an end scraper were found.
The Investigations
It was decided to conduct a systematic investigation of the site for three principal
reasons: 1) This site has an unquestionable Clovis component; 2) The artifacts in the
Bustamante collection represent a wide range of activities suggestive of a Clovis
encampment; and 3) The minimal fossilization evident with the well-preserved mammoth
molars is suggestive of late Pleistocene contexts.
The site encompasses an area 2.5 kilometers N/S by 1.5 kilometers E/W. We
identified at least 28 different loci, demonstrating this to be a very complex site that was
occupied for a long period of time (Table 4.3 and Figure 4.49). Ten loci had only a Paleo-
184
Indian affiliation, six yielded both Paleo-Indian and Archaic artifacts, nine produced only
archaic diagnostics, three seemed affiliated to the Early Agriculture period, and one
contained ceramic artifacts. It was decide to conduct further investigations in four
localities were the possibility existed to have buried Paleo-Indian deposits.
Table 4.3. Cultural affiliations of the loci identified at El Aigame.
CULTURAL
AFILIATION
Paleo-Indian
PaleoIndian/Archaic
Archaic
Early Agriculture
Ceramic
TOTAL
LOCUS NUMBER
TOTAL
1,2,3,29,4,6,11,12,15,28
7, 14,16, 17, 23,24
10
6
5, 8, 9, 13, 20, 21,22, 25,
26
10, 18, 19
27
9
3
1
29
Table 4.4. Radiocarbon dates from El Aigame.
Sample
Locus Excavation
no.
unit
AA66509 3
Pozo 5
C14 date
4009+/-42
Material
dated
Charcoal
AA66497 4
AA66498 4
AA66499 2
4864 +/-74
3558 +/-46
4951 +/-55
Soil residue
Soil residue
Soil residue
Stratigraphic
unit
Cienega
deposit
Upper mud
Lower mud
Upper mud
4843 +/-52
Soil residue
Lower mud
AA66500 2
Profile 1
Profile 1
Arroyo
profile
Arroyo
profile
185
Figure 4.49. SON N:11:20 Location of loci and Excavations .
186
Locus 1 is located in the north central area of the site. We decided to investigate
this area because we recovered from the surface at least 15 large fragments of bifaces that
appear to be made using a Paleo-Indian lithic technology, three show a possible channel
flake removal. Associated with these bifaces we found approximately 300 lithic artifacts
including hundreds of biface thinning flakes, flakes, and hammer stones in a 100 x 100
meter area. We defined two areas as possible tool making features (Figure 4.50).
Feature 1 is located in the lower terrain of the southwest limits of Component 1.
Here, 258 lithic artifacts were collected, including one complete biface, and 11 fragments
of bifaces (Table 4.5), many of them with clear evidence of basal thinning, at least six
were made of the same relatively fine red quartzite (Figure 4.51), one was made on high
quality chert (Figure 4.52), hammers and abraders made from quartz crystal were also
recovered (Figure 4.53), together with hundreds of flakes and biface thinning flakes of the
same raw material. The appearance of surface bifaces and flakes of the same materials,
suggests that the feature came out to the surface very recently so there is the possibility of
finding a buried Paleo-Indian context. However no dateable materials were found in this
deposit.
Locus 2 is located in the northeastern end of the site. Here a moderate scatter of
artifacts was observed during the surface exploration. At least three large basalt bifaces
were collected (Figure 4.54), also ten obsidian unifacial artifacts were observed and three
tapering steam points from early Holocene times were collected. Test pits were excavated
in the areas presenting the highest concentrations of artifacts but only a recent very loose
alluvium was observed.
187
Figure 4.50. Locus 1 features.
188
154
60
3
7
3
7
1
235
6
4
1
1
1
2
2
1
4
1
12 2
4
1
4
Total
Uniface
Hammer and
abrader
Archaic point
Core tool
Biface
LOCUS 1
FEATURE 1
red quarzite
basalt
agata
chert
obsidian
quarzt crystal
rhyolite
TOTAL
Flakes and
debitage
Table 4.5. Lithic classes in locus 1, feature 1.
162
67
5
8
3
11
2
258
Figure 4.51. Red quartzite biface from Locus 1, Feature 2.
189
Figure 4.52. Chert Biface from Locus 1, Feature 2..
Figure 4.53. Quartzite Abrader form Locus 1.
190
14
2
1
1
1
1
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
1
TOTAL
1
BIFACE
1
CORE
GYPSUM
POINT
1
TAPERING
5
1
5
3
UNIFACE
CIENEGA
POINT
FLAKE 3
LOCUS 2
Basalt 7
Quartz cristal
Obsidian 1
Chert 3
Silstone
TOTAL 11
FLAKE 2
FLAKE 1
Table 4.6. Artifacts from Locus 2.
16
1
8
9
2
36
Figure 4.54. Archaic Bifaces from Locus 2.
One important part of our investigations at the site was to find intact stratigraphy
with the purpose of reconstructing profiles for determining the geochronology of the site.
In a deep arroyo adjacent to Locality 2, we found at about 2 meters under the surface a
dark clay organic horizon from which we obtained soil samples for radiocarbon for
191
dating. The lower mud gave a radiocarbon age of 4843+/-42 (AA66500) and the upper
mud an age of 4951+/-55 (AA66499) (Figure 4.55). The date obtained from the arroyo
profile indicates that locus 2 is a middle/late Archaic component that could contained
intact archaeological features, his investigation will be significant for understanding this
period, poorly known in Sonora.
Figure 4.55. Profile of the arroyo adjacent to Locus 2.
192
Locus 3 (also known as KM site by Bustamante) is where Bustamante obtained
the majority of his collection frm a 70x70 meter area (Javier Bustamante, personal
communication 2005). At least three Paleoindian bifaces (Figure 4.56 and 4.57),
aproximatly 40 end scrapers, many of them spurred and manufactured on blades (Figure
4.58) and hundreds of flakes came from Locus 3. During our first visit to the site we
found a Clovis point base, fluted on both faces (Figure 4.59).Later in the season we found
two end scrapers. A careful systematic survey of the entire area was conducted, and a
trench (unit 4) and a test pit (unit 5) were excavated. Trench 4 had a deposit with an old
red soil with alluvial deposits that have been heavily reworked, no artifacts were found at
the subsurface level.
Figure 4.56. Clovis preforms from Locus 3 (Bustamante collection).
193
Figure 4.57. Red quartz lanceolate point from Locus 3 (Bustamente collection).
Figure 4.58. End scrapers from Locus 3 (Bustamente Collection).
194
Figure 4.59. Basalt Clovis base found in Locus 3.
Although, not buried archaeological features of Paleo-Indian age were found at
this locality, the excavations at test pit 5 reveal a very dark well developed soil composed
by clay and sand (a cienega-like stratum) almost 80 cm thick. Charcoal was recovered
from the bottom of the dark stratum and a radiocarbon age obtained from the charcoal is
4009+-42 (AA66509) (Figure 4.60).
The pollen profile obtained from Unit 5 was
analyzed by Susana Xelhuantzi from the Archaeobotanical Laboratory of the
Subdirección de Laboratorios, INAH the pollen concentration in the samples was very
low and the sample was full of silica; however the pollen samples corresponding to the
195
cienega deposits contained fungi, algae, mosses and ferns consistent with a wet
environment (Xelhuantzi 2008). At the bottom of the cienega soil, about 70 cm from the
surface, a maize phytolith was found that probably dated to 4000 years ago; ash, walnuts
and alder pollen were observed in the samples (Xelhuantzi 2008), none of these species
are present today at the locality.
Figure 4.60. Profile of test pit 5, with location of pollen profile and C14 date.
Locus 4 is situated along drainage at the south end of the site. Here the deposits
are cienega-like; composed of very fine silt with carbonates. From here we recovered two
fragments of an ultra thin biface manufactured with a Paleo-Indian technology, along
196
with some bison bones. The reported mammoth molars probably came from this area.
Here, a profile of the sediments was completed and the clayey cienega-like deposit was
dated. Soil from the cienega deposit of this profile were radiocarbon dated and even if we
obtained some reverse dates, the cienega appear to be 4000 years old, the same age
obtained at test pit in locus 3 (Figure 4.61).
Figure 4.61. Profile 1 at Locus 4.
197
Red ochre is a natural resource of great importance for the Paleo-Indian groups
(Haynes 2002, Frison 1999). In 2005, we found a source of pure hematite located as a
solid vein 50 cm wide in an arroyo profile (555940E/ 3178076N); however we did not
find any artifacts associated with the source (Figure 4.62).
Figure 4.62. Red ochre source.
Summary of the Investigations at El Aígame
In sum, El Aigame is a multicomponent site with human occupations that started during
Paleo-Indian times and extend throughout the Archaic period and the Early Agriculture
period of the Holocene. It is unlikely there is any buried Paleo-Indian contexts left in Loci
1 and 3 (where the engineer Bustamante found his Clovis collection) , probably because
this area have been eroded and re-deposited at least ones. However, it is possible that
198
other loci at the site could preserve intact late Pleistocene and early and middle Holocene
deposits.
In four different stratigraphic profiles of the site, we recorded a very dark clayey
cienega like deposits, first we thought that corresponded to black mat deposits of late
Pleistocene times. However, all of them dated between 5,000 and 4,000 years ago. The
maize phytolith found in test pit 5 Locus 3 apparently is associated to this period of high
humidity that occurred around between 5000 and 4000 years ago.
It is important to note that Vega Granillo (1992:84) performed a hydro-geologic
study of the Rio Mátape Basin (1992), and around the area of the site she reported an
older aquifer running NE-SW tainted with a chemical composition of CalciumMagnesium-Chloride that it is polluting the water table of the basin. Ground water
contamination could explain the low concentration of pollen and the high concentration of
silica found in the soil samples reported by Xelhuantzi (2008).
The presence of Clovis points, bifaces, end scrapers, blades, together with bifacial
thining flakes of fine materials at Loci 1 and 3 appear to represent one or more Clovis
encampments. Unfortunaly the Clovis feature or features have redeposited more tan one
time and we do not know that a intact Clovis feature still exist at the locality, the Clovis
occupation can be resting on a red well-developed soil of Pleistocene age. Permanent
springs at the site likely attracted the Paleo-Indian groups and other animals to this
location.
The Clovis group(s) present at the site apparently used locally available raw
materials. Quartzite, basalt and siltstone are found nearby, at the arroyos and on the hills.
199
One biface, and many end scrapers from the Bustamante collection, were made on fine
and diverse kinds of cherts, at least 12 end scrapers from the Bustamante collection are
manufactured on blades, however, no blade cores (conical, tablets or wedge shaped) have
been found at the site. Later archaic groups at the site used obsidian, probably of the wide
spread Apache tears like obsidian, to make many artifacts. Only one Clovis end scraper
from the Bustamante collection was made from obsidian. None of the Clovis artifacts
from El Aigame were manufacture with El Bajio basalt source; however it is possible that
some of the Clovis end scrapers at El Aígame collection are manufacture in the same
silex/calcedony forces than artifacts found at El Bajio.
The early and middle Holocene occupation of the site is very well represented
with the presence of tapering stem and Pinto points; the Early Agriculture period is also
very well represented by San Pedro and Cienega points. There is no doubt that El Aigame
site was a very valuable location for hunters and gathers groups of the Paleo-Indian and
Archaic periods. The higher water table that existed at the end of the Altithermal was
ideal for the formation of seasonal cienegas and probably for the early development of
maize agriculture. Future research at this site will be important to fully understand the
cultural developments of prehistoric Sonora.
El Gramal Site (SON N:11:20-21)
This large site complex is located on the Hermosillo Plains, southwest of the city of
Hermosillo, roughly 18 kilometers from the modern-day Sea of Cortez shoreline. The site
consists of a dense, multi-component artifact scatter that covers at least 10 km². The
200
artifacts occur on the edge of a large (3 km²) playa and extend north and west several
kilometers into extensive dune fields (Figure 4.63 and 4.64). This zone is part of the Río
Sonora hydrologic basin, located approximately 60 km to the southwest of Hermosillo at
an elevation of 25 meters amsl, and displays vegetation typical of the Central Coast
subdivision of the Sonoran Desert (Turner and Brown 1994:212). The El Gramal site falls
within the cactus-mesquite-saltbush vegetation community with the unique characteristic
of including five different species of columnar cacti; Hecho (Pachycereus pectemaborigum), Cardón (Pachycereus pringlei), Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), Senita
(Lophocereus schotti), Organ Pipe (Stenocerus thurberi) and Sina (Sina alamosensis),
along with various salt water and sandy soil tolerant shrubs (Turner and Brown
1994:215).
Forty one diagnostic Paleo-Indian projectile points have been collected from five
localities within this site by the local collector. At least 21 of these points are classic
fluted Clovis, while 20 are unfluted lanceolate varieties (Gaines et al. 2009). The PaleoIndian materials are generally found on the eroded flanks of the dunes adjacent to the
playa margins. The dunes contain at least three buried soils and the Clovis material seems
to come from the lowest and best developed soil which forms a resistant ledge where it is
eroded. It is important to note that for the provenience of the Paleo-Indian occupation we
rely completely on the private collector because the 40 points were collected by them.
The intensive surface collection of El Gramal began in the early 1970s and continues to
the present. The Paleo-Indian occupation is well represented at this site, as are the
Archaic and Ancestral Seri periods.
201
Figure 4.63. The playa at El Gramal looking east.
The Geoarcheological Investigations
Investigations were carried out at the site in January and February 2007; during this
period we only found one probably fluted base of presumably Paleo-Indian ages, on the
surface all the later occupations of the coast are very well represented but not the PaleoIndian. The field methods consisted of comprehensive bucket-augering and limited handtrenching. Radiocarbon samples were submitted to the University of Arizona NSF AMS
facility. Aeolian sand samples were analyzed by the University of Washington
Luminescence Laboratory utilizing the multi-grain single aliquot pulsed optically
stimulated luminescence (OSL) method.
202
Figure 4.64. Aerial photograph showing El Gramal site and localities.
Loci 1, 2, and 5 are located in the dunes on the western margin of the playa.
According to the collectors, Locus 1 produced a complete quartz crystal fluted point
(Figure 4.65), and a chert fluted point that was resharpened into an awl or drill, from the
midst of a low-density lithic scatter on the side of a large dune (LeopoldoVelez, personal
communication 2007). One trench and several auger test pit were excavated at this locus.
Local stratigraphy consists of Holocene and likely late Pleistocene deposits of interfingered sands and playa muds with a sequence of three buried soil horizons to a depth of
5.5 meters beneath the surface (Figure 4.66).
203
Figure 4.65. Quartz crystal Clovis point from Locus 1.
Figure 4.66. Generalized X-section of Trench 1.
204
Locus 2 yielded both fluted and unfluted lanceolate points, mostly basal fragments
made on local basalt and obsidian. Trenching at Locus 2 revealed dune stratigraphy with
two buried soils and intact, stratified archaeological remains throughout the sequence.
Artifacts from a late prehistoric Seri occupation—sherds, groundstone fragments, shell,
and flaked stone—occur within the upper deposit in the zone of recent to modern soil
formation, while the middle buried soil horizon contains lithic debitage and shell
fragments indicative of a pre-ceramic Archaic horizon. The nearby Paleo-Indian artifacts
are thought to be associated with the basal, and best developed, buried soil. A possible
fluted biface fragment made of black basalt was found on the surface at Locus 5 (Figure
4.67). Subsequent geologic coring in the immediate vicinity fortuitously recovered two
basalt flakes from a depth of 3.5-3.6 meters beneath the surface (Figure 4.68 and 4.69).
Figure 4.67. Probable fluted biface on basalt.
205
Figure 4.68. Ned Gaines and Beto Peña digging a test pit with an auger.
Figure 4.69. Flakes found 3.5 meters below surface during testing.
206
Loci 3 and 4 are located in an expanse of low dunes and blowouts on the northeast
margin of the playa. Both loci yielded unfluted lanceolate bifaces and projectile points,
according to the collector. The stratigraphy in this area generally consists of shallow
dune sands overlying deposits of silts, sands and muds to at least a depth of six meters
beneath the surface. Artifacts at loci 3 and 4 are much more diffuse than at the other
three loci, and buried remains are, as of yet, unknown from these two areas.
Although we did not conduct a systematic survey at El Gramal, we identified an
obsidian source on a small hill to the south of Locus 5. This obsidian occurs in small 2-6
cm diameter nodules (Apache tears). The concentration of obsidian nodules extends over
an area of 600x600 meters. The presence of obsidian reduction flakes confirms the
prehistoric exploitation of this raw material source; although we cannot be certain that it
was utilized by Paleo-Indian groups, at least five Clovis points of obsidian were collected
by private collectors at the site.
Stratigraphy and Geochronology of El Gramal
The site exhibits a complex stratigraphic sequence consisting of over eight meters
of aeolian sands, alluvial silts and clays, and playa muds (Figure 4.57). In general, there
are seven defined stratigraphic units (from the bottom up): Unit I, II, and III sands; Unit
IV silts and clays; Unit V sands; Unit VI silts and clays; and Unit VII sands. The limited
testing conducted to date has identified in situ archaeological components in Units VI and
VII. The site preserves nearly complete record of late Quaternary aeolian and alluvial
deposits spanning the last 25,000 years. Thie stratigraphic sequence exhibits alternating
207
periods of alluvial and aeolian deposition, punctuated by periods of erosion, stability and
soil formation. The site has yielded surface artifacts diagnostic of nearly every phase of
human occupation known in the Sonoran Desert over the past 12,000 years (Gaines et al.
2009).
Figure 4.70. Generalized Stratigraphy of El Gramal (Gaines et al. 2009).
A Paleo-Indian occupation at El Gramal is evidenced by the 20 fluted points and
21 unfluted lanceolate points in the hands of the collectors. However this collection
represents more than 30 years of constant collecting. The trampling, patina and the
battering that it is apparent in the collection appear to indicate that the Paleo-Indian
208
component is not very well preserved and the artifacts have been on the surface for a long
period of time, many of them have been modified in later times. The lack of other
diagnostic Paleo-Indian materials such as blades, polyhedral cores, and end scrapers,
among other tools, appears to indicate that the El Gramal playa was not utilized as a camp
site and it could be difficult, if not impossible, to find buried Paleo-Indian deposits. None
diagnostic Paleo-Indian artifacts were found during our investigation.
Cerro Izabal (SON J:16:8)
At least three Clovis points (along with a fourth unconfirmed) are known from Cerro
Izabal. This is a diffuse, multi-component site located some 20 km to the west of
Hermosillo. Two of the Clovis points were reported by Manuel Robles (1974), and are
currently in the museum of the Universidad de Sonora, while the other is in the hands of a
collector in Bahia Kino (Figure 4.71). Robles completed a report and filled out a site card
with a sketch map for Cerro Izabal, on file in the Centro INAH Sonora archives. This map
and Robles’ descriptions helped us to locate the highest concentration of Paleo-Indian
artifacts. The site is situated in a small basin, without evidence of recent erosion. There is
no arroyo cut exposing the subsurface stratigraphy of the site (Figure 4.72); stratigraphy
was obtained through auguring.
The Paleo-Indian materials apparently occur along the margins of this basin. The
auguer-testing of the buried stratigraphic contexts reveals a sequence of silt, sands and
intact clays to a depth of at least 6.5 meters. The depths of the basal sediments indicate a
paleo-topographic basin, with the artifacts located on the margins of this paleo-basin.
209
Although the geoarchaeological work at the Cerro Izabal site is preliminary, the site has
been demonstrated to contain buried stratigraphic deposits and has a great potential for
containing the remains of Paleo-Indian occupations. It should be noted that, as a basin
with fill comprised of colluviums and alluviums, we were unable to date these deposits
utilizing OSL, and no organic material suitable for dating was encountered.
An obsidian source was identified along the southern edge of the site. The
obsidian occurs in small nodules ranging between two and ten centimeters in diameter.
Two of the Clovis points collected from Cerro Izabal are of obsidian, and though as yet
uncorroborated it is possible that this could be the source of raw material utilized.
Figure 4.71. Obsidian Clovis point from Cerro Izabal.
210
Figure 4.72. In-filled Basin of Cerro Izabal looking north.
The Fin del Mundo Site (SON J: 10:2)
Fin del Mundo (end of the earth) site is located in a small intermontane basin at about 650
amsl, within a chain of unnamed volcanic hills about a 100 km northwest of Hermosillo,
Sonora (Figure 4.1). The site is exposed in an eroded landscape that drains into the
Arroyo Carrizo. The valley of the Carrizo drains this intermontane basin and flows into
the Rio Bacoachi, which flows to the south and southwest into the Gulf of California.
The plant community at Fin del Mundo is represented by a combination of Arizona
Upland and Lower Colorado plant community. The area is dominated by ocotillo
(Fourquieria splendens) and creosote bush (Larrea tridentate), bursage (Ambrosia
deltoidea), bush muhly (Muhlenbergia porteri) and several species of Opuntia associated
211
with the Arizona Upland are present. The dominant tree is ironwood (Olneya tesota), and
at least two different kinds of agaves are present. To the northeast of the site is a dense
saguaro bosque (Carnegiea gigantea) and a dense stand of agaves (Turner and Brown
1994).
In 1997, during a visit to the municipal museum in Carbó, Sonora, Vance Haynes
and the author observed an unfossilized mammoth femur and rib. We were told that these
bones had been recovered from the ranch, a four hour drive from Carbó. Although the
owner invited us to his ranch, we necessarily declined his offer due to the time and
distance involved. The principal objective of the spring 2007 field season of the Proyecto
Geoarqueología y tecnología lítica de los sitios Paleoindios de Sonora was to visit all of
the known localities where Paleo-Indian remains had been reported. On this list was a
remote ranch in the Municipio of Pitiquito, where more than 30 years earlier minimally
fossilized bones of a mammoth had been found and subsequently displayed in a local
municipal museum.
We visited the Fin del Mundo locality on February 5, 2007: this locality presents
an area where Clovis groups hunted and butchered Proboscidians, along with other
Pleistocene mammals. Bones remain preserved in cienega deposits, with an associated
Clovis camp, and a quartz crystal raw material source located atop a hill nearby, from
which projectile points and other artifacts were manufactured. This site reflects the first
Pleistocene megafauna hunting/butchering site discovered in Mexico since 1957. It is
important to note, too, that Fin del Mundo is also the first site that we found that has not
been collected by the amateur archaeologists.
212
The Pleistocene fauna is found in a remnant of stratified deposits, preserved as an
“island” in an eroded landscape. These deposits vary from two to 20 meters in width and
60 meters in length, with stratigraphic walls exposed on three sides (Figure 4.73). While
examining the exposed profiles we observed a chalcedony chopper that had recently
fallen from the wall profile from the uppermost stratum associated with the Pleistocene
fauna. Shortly thereafter, a large rhyolite Clovis-style biface was found at a distance of
three meters from the island, followed by the discovery of the middle portion of a quartz
crystal biface and a complete Clovis point of white chert located eight meters to the south
of the island (Figure 4.74).
Figure 4.73. View of the “Island” Locus 1, looking NW.
213
Figure 4.74. Artifacts found associated with Locus 1.
The Explorations
Thus far, two field seasons (Winter 2007 and Fall 2008) have been carried out at the Fin
del Mundo site. Although the analyses of the archaeological contexts, geochronology,
stratigraphy, paleontology, lithic artifacts, and environmental data (diatoms, pollen and
gastropods) are still underway, a few preliminary conclusions can be offered. The site
comprises seven geological/archaeological localities; the most important being Locus 1,
constituting the stratigrafied island feature with Pleistocene faunal remains and associated
artifacts, and Locus 5, which encompasses the various Clovis encampments. In addition
214
to its obvious archaeological importance, the Fin del Mundo site offers considerable
potential for paleoenvironmental reconstruction with preserved strata representing a
sequence of approximately 35,000 years (Figure 4.75).
Figure 4.75. Generalized x-section from the Fin del Mundo site (drawing and
reconstruction made by Vance Holliday)
Locus 1 (Hunting/Butchering of Pleistocene Fauna)
The bone exposure is in a heavily dissected landscape covering an area of roughly 200m
x 200m (Figure 4.75). Dissection left the local basin fill exposed in head cuts and in a
series of erosional islands. The bone beds, artifacts, and their containing strata are
associated with only one of these islands (Locality 1) (Figure 4.76). Several 14C dates
have been obtained from Locus 1 (Table 4.
215
Figure 4.76. Topographic Map of Locus 1 (map made by Michael Brack).
Three strata (2-4) resting unconformably on the local bedrock were identified at
Locus 1 (Figure 4.77). The bedrock is a cemented very-coarse conglomerate. The strata
are inset into a broad channel ~500m wide and once completely filled this paleo-channel.
Stratum 2 is up to 3m thick and is composed of pebbly sandy clay fining upward into a
sandy clay. In thicker sections, the lower half of the unit is a deep red. The upper half in
thick sections and most of the layer in thinner sections is a pale olive gray. These colors
represent alteration of the primary sediment; probably starting with oxidation, followed
216
by reduction (green). Where the top of stratum 2 is out of the low area and
topographically higher, it exhibits a strongly-developed soil profile referred to as “Big
Red.” The degree of soil development in this setting is suggestive of perhaps tens of
thousands of years of landscape stability (Gile et al., 1981; Birkeland, 1999). On top of
the soil is a carbonate stratum up to 60 cm thick. The massive character, uniform density,
and presence of both aquatic and terrestrial gastropods in the carbonate suggest that it is
some sort of seep or spring deposit (Figure 4.75).
Table 4.7. Radiocarbon dates from Locus 1.
Sample
Stratum
Date, C14 years BP
Lab Number
shell
4, diatomaceous earth
7840 +/- 70
AA81350
organic-rich
sediment
organic-rich
sediment
organic-rich
sediment
charcoal
4, diatomaceous earth
8375 +/- 110
A-14837
4, diatomaceous earth
9030 +/- 75
A-14850
4, diatomaceous earth
9465 +/- 100
A-14836
4, top of diatomite
9290 +/- 290
AA80085
charcoal
4, top of diatomite
9560 +/- 120
AA80671
charcoal
organic-rich
sediment
4, top of diatomite
3, directly beneath
upper bone bed
9715 +/- 64
11,040 +/- 580 BP
AA80084
AA83272
217
Figure 4.77. Stratigraphy of Locus 1.
Strata 3 and 4 filled a channel of unknown length and less than a 100 meter wide
cut into Stratum 2. Most of Strata 3 and 4 were destroyed by erosion. The only remnant is
the narrow, elongated Locality 1 “island,” which is 45m long and 15m wide at it’s widest.
The upper bone bed, which is archaeological and the focus of most of our efforts, rests on
top of stratum 3a and is buried by the diatomite of stratum 4. Depositional processes were
very low energy at this level and did not affect the feature. Stratum 3a is green pebbly
sandy clay up to 1m thick overlain by the Stratum 3B. Stratum 3 is a pale olive color
throughout. The pebbles of 3A are angular to sub-rounded. Stratum 3A rests
unconformably on stratum 2. Bone is common throughout stratum 3. The pebbly
218
character of some components of stratum 3 and the appearance of cut-and-fill sequences
within stratum 3 indicates cyclical aggradations, and the poorly-sorted character of
stratum 3 suggests variable discharge throughout deposition. Both conditions and the
short transport distance indicated by the pebbles all suggest deposition from local springfed waters.
Our investigations have concentrated on approximately an area of 10 square
meters of the upper bone bed lying between Stratum 3B and Stratum 4, and from which
the remains of two semi-articulated, juvenile Gomphotherium sp. (Figure 4.78), and a
mammoth tusk, as well as several other species, have been recovered. Six biface retouch
flakes, one chert Clovis point and another Clovis point of quartz crystal were found in
rodent disturbed contexts, however these artifacts appear to have been in direct
association with the bone bed (Figure 4.79).
The upper bone bed is sealed by a Stratum 4A of pure diatoms which represent a
pond deposit that preserved the bones. A few fragments of charcoal from above the
diatoms are dated to between 9700 and 9200 years before present. In the lower limits of
stratum 3B, a fragment of black charcoal-like organic material base soluble produced a
radiocarbon age of 11,040 +/- 580 (AA83272) years before present, and places the
cultural deposits within the accepted range of the Clovis tradition (Figure 4.76).
The lower bone bed of Stratum 3A is much less well known, and we remain
uncertain if represent an archaeological feature. As yet, we have not recovered any
articulated elements within this stratum, which also appears to reflect a high energy
219
alluvial deposit and may, therefore, have redeposited bones. Mammoth, American
mastodon, tapir and tortoise faunal remains have been recovered from Stratum 3A.
220
Figure 4.78. The two articulated Gomphotherium sp. (drawing by E. Gaines)
221
Figure 4.79. Upper bone bed with artifacts (drawing by E. Gaines).
222
Locus 5 (Paleo-Indian Encampments)
In the first full field season (2007-2008), we also discovered an activity area (likely a
camp), Locality 5, on uplands away from the initial artifacts finds and the in situ bone.
Surveying and testing focused on this area and also expanded to other upland areas. The
main area of the Clovis camp is located 600 meters from Locus 1 and it is a sparse
concentration of artifacts in a large area.
The “Clovis Camp” (Locality 5) is on the broad, gently rolling uplands that extend
to the southeast, south, and south west of the eroded landscape around Locality 1.
Locality 5 was subjected to two weeks of intense survey by a crew of six and twenty-four
test pits (mostly1x1m; one 1x3 meter trench) were excavated. The distributional maps
still in process, however Locus 5 appear to be 500 m2. The surveying was aimed at
identification of additional Paleo-Indian tools and potential identification of
concentrations of tools. The center of the camp is a slightly elevated exposure of an old
landscape identified on the basis of a well developed soil, considered a correlative of Big
Red identified at other localitites and roughly dated at 15,000 year ago. The area was
subjected to repeated sheetwash flooding by local arroyos, but most of this alluvium has
accumulated along the flanks of the core of the camp. Testing in this alluvium was
conducted in an attempt to find buried Paleo-Indian material. Test excavations
encountered archaeological materials in the sheetwash alluvium and on the surface of the
old soil, but none of the archaeological material was positively identified as Paleo-Indian.
Surveys conducted in the uplands resulted in the identification of two additional
localities with evidence for Paleo-Indian activity. Locus 8 is approximately 200 m west of
223
Locus 5. It yielded one fluted basal fragment and one retouched blade. We opened a 4 m2
test unit here and found buried flakes. Locus 9 is roughly 500m northeast of Locus 5. It
produced several fragmentary bifaces and lithic debitage consistent with Clovis bifacial
reduction.
The Paleo-Indian material consisted of diagnostic artifacts and some debitage.
Until today we have found eight Clovis points and preforms, one complete and seven
basal fragments (Figure 4.80); four rhyolite lanceolate biface fragments fluted, 29
lanceolate bifaces of rhyolite probable Paleo-Indian; 27 end scrapers made in different
kinds of cherts many of them are spurred (Figure 4.81), three tablet flakes from
polyhedral cores (Figure 4.82), 24 blades some of made from different kinds of cherts,
five are from the El Bajio basalt source (Figure 4.83). An Archaic component is very well
represented at Locus 5. One hundred and ten Archaic projectile points have been
recovered; including Pinto, San Jose, Elko, San Pedro, Imperio and Cienenga point types.
One flake of fine brown chert found associated with the bones of a semi-articulated
gomphotheres in Locus 1, was made of the same chert of a lateral scraper found in Locus
5; this appears to indicate that the Clovis camp is connected with the hunting of
mastodons.
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Figure 4.80. Clovis point of chert and quartzite.
Figure 4.81. Clovis end scrapers of chert and obsidian.
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Figure 4.82. Core tablet flakes made on the El Bajio basalt.
Figure 4.83. Blades from Locus 5.
Quartz Crystal Quarry
A complete Clovis point and a medial fragment of a Clovis point recovered from Locus 1,
along with many more tools from Locus 5, were manufactured from quartz crystal. The
complete Clovis point specimen is perfectly transparent and is a veritable work of art,
226
with the flake scars creating a prism displaying the colors of the rainbow. Five kilometers
to the west of the site is a hill with enormous veins of quartz situated around the lower
slope. The quartz material occurs in varying purities, but all displaying hair-like filaments
of the mineral rutilio, which provides a distinctive signature for this source. Preliminary
reconnaissance identified at least three lithic workshop areas with thousands of pieces of
quartz debitage.
Figure 4.84. Quartz Crystal from Cerro del Cuarzo..
Summary
Investigations at the Fin del Mundo site have barely begun. We need to do much more
research, however we can offer some limited, preliminary conclusions. It is the first
Paleo-Indian site in Sonora for which we have obtained a radiocarbon date (11040 +/450); although lacking precision, this radiocarbon age falls within the traditional range for
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known Clovis occupations. At Fin del Mundo there are loci associated with elephant
hunting and encampments. Evidence for butchering activities is minimal and it seems
likely that the area where most of these activities occurred has been removed through
erosion. At Murray Spring, butchering areas were represented by high concentrations of
rejuvenation flakes and tools associated with semi-articulated bones.
The Fin del Mundo Clovis groups apparently utilized local/regional raw materials
for the majority of their tool production; much of which was not very fine material. Two
Clovis points were manufactured from the locally available quartz crystal source, one of
fine basalt, and the others from various sources of cherts. The utilization of the local
quartz crystal from the Cerro de Cuarzo apparently indicates that the Clovis groups spent
some time in the area and which was not solely associated with mastodon hunting. The
presence of five blades and a basalt tablet core from El Bajio suggests the importance of
El Bajio at the regional level as the source of high quality raw material.
The Fin del Mundo site is the first archaeological site with Pleistocene megafauna
with unquestionable artifacts associated documented in Mexico since 1957, as well as the
only site associated with a Gomphotherium sp. in all North America. As of the present, a
dozen Clovis points, including three complete specimens from Locus 1 have been
documented. Despite the numerous documented late Pleistocene/early Holocene
occupations in Sonora, Fin del Mundo is the first site with a preserved 25,000 year
stratigraphic record. Its location and archaeological components make Fin del Mundo a
unique site that permits us to consider various topics such as environmental changes
during the late Pleistocene/early Holocene, Paleo-Indian subsistence and regional
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interaction, the role humans may have played in the extinction of the Pleistocene fauna,
and how the first Americans adapted to the Sonoran region; themes that will contribute
immensely to our knowledge of the peopling of North America. and México.
El Aguajito (SON K:15:1)
The El Aguajito site is located approximately 40 kilometers from Hermosillo. This site
has been (and continues to be) heavily gleaned by prívate collectors for at least 30 years;
these collections reveal at least a half-dozen late Paleo-Indian artifacts (Gaines 2005), as
well as fluted Clovis point base (Figure 4.84), and hundreds of Archaic projectile points.
The site setting is in a transition zone between the Plains of Sonora and the parallel ranges
and valleys of Sonora to the east. The surface has suffered from substantial erosion and
once buried features have been exposed (Figure 4.85).
This site was only briefly
investigated during the winter 2007 field season.
Figure 4.85. Clovis point and later Paleo-Indian points from El Aguajito
(Velez Collection).
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Figure 4.86. A view from El Aguajito looking west.
El Aguajito consists of a continuous distribution of lithic artifacts and fire-cracked
rock extending over an area of five square kilometers. Research at the site focused upon
characterizing the stratigraphy and determining the age of the four strata of organic dark
clays that might be related to the late Pleistocene black mat(s). The stratigraphic deposits
consist of a possible layer of volcanic ash resting atop calcareous clays and silts that
exhibit four separate layers of black clays (Figure 4.86). An horno of probable San Pedro
phase affiliation rests upon the most recent of these cienega deposits, suggesting an age
no older than the middle Holocene for this stratum. Radiocarbon dates obtained from
charcoal as well as the organic soils confirmed this supposition and indicate a
geochronology for the middle and late Holocene (ca. 4700 bp) and it appears to be related
230
to a period of increased humidity noted by Paul Martin for the eve of the Anathermal in
some places in Arizona (Martin 1995).
Although this site does not appear to contain buried deposits associated with the
late Pleistocene/early Holocene, the great quantities of horno features, manos, metates,
Archaic projectile point styles along with other lithic tools and debitage, make this site
appear to be a significant locality for investigating the development of the Early
Agriculture period in northwestern Mexico.
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Figure 4.87. El Aguajito profile 1 with cienega deposits and 14C dates.
Las Peñitas (SON O:12:1)
This site was reported by Javier Bustamente in 1972. The site is located 20 kilometers to
the southeast of the abandoned Buenavista granite mine, accessed off of Highway 16 (La
Colorada-Sahuaripa). According to Bustamante, the site is located on the bajada of a
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mountain in the Valle de las Peñitas, and is situated between an arroyo and what he
referred to as a kind of desert pavement. Here, Bustamante collected a complete white
chert Clovis point with fluting present on both faces (Figure 4.87), some scrapers, and a
conical blade core. Bustamante also described this site as being a raw material
procurement site. Several biface thinning flakes of this same material was observed at El
Aígame, and we considered it imperative to relocate this site, however, we were
unsuccessful.
Figure 4.88. Chert Clovis point collected at Las Peñitas.
Rancho Bojorquez/Km17
We learned of this site from Dr. Leopoldo Velez, one of the Hermosillo collectors.
According to Velez, five Clovis point bases have been collected from this site, of which
233
three are in his possession (Figure 4.88). The site is located on the highway to Sahuaripa
at the kilometer 17 marker, where there is an exit to the south for the Rancho Bojorquez.
The site is situated on flat terrain in the Plains of Sonora that has been heavily modified
by agricultural activities, cattle, and extensive erosion. A systematic survey determined
that this site consists of a light but continuous distribution of lithic, ceramic, shell, manos,
and metates; some of the artifacts could have a Paleo-Indian affiliation, but we were
unable to identify a single diagnostic Paleo-Indian artifact (Figure 4.89). At least three
arroyos dissect the site. Examination of the wall profiles revealed that they were cut down
to the granite bedrock, and the deposits above were composed of a loose, silty alluvium,
probably of recent (late Holocene) origin; no potential late Pleistocene/early Holocene
contexts were observed.
Figure 4.89. Fluted Points from Rancho Bojorquez (Velez Collection).
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Figure 4.90. View of the Rancho Bojorquez site.
Cueva El Tetabejo
Tetabejo Cave is located in the Sierra Libre, within the large site of La Pintada, 60
kilometers to the south of Hermosillo. The cave measures 20 meters wide, 12 meters
deep, and 12 meters high, with the mouth oriented at 200 degrees providing a view to the
south.
Walter W. Taylor and Jose Luis Lorenzo carried out excavations at Tetabejo Cave (SON
O:5:6) in 1956 with the explicit objective of locating Paleo-Indian contexts; today, the
remains of their grid can still be seen. Taylor and Lorenzo failed to locate Clovis contexts
in their investigations, however, one of the Hermosillo artifact collectors has a distal
fragment of a fluted Clovis point of purple chert that was apparently obtained from
looting at Tetabejo cave in 1985 (Figure 4.89). The cave appears to contain stratified
235
deposits and merits further study. Recently, Manuel Gramiel, an archaeologist with the
team investigating La Pintada, while searching the internet discovered that the field notes
and excavated materials are probably curated at the Smithsonian Institution, in
Washington D.C.
Figure 4.91. Chert Clovis point from Tetabejo Cave.
Chinobampo
The Chinobampo site represent the first discovery in Sonora suggesting the presence of
early man in the Pleistocene. This discovery was made in January of 1937 at Rancho
Chinobampo (20 kilometers south of Navajoa) by the “Pleistocene Mammals” project
sponsored by the Frick Laboratory of the American Museum of Natural History. Here,
Howard Scott Gentry and John C. Blick encountered a human cranium within a stratified
deposit composed of caliche and silt of probable Pleistocene age. This deposit also
contained the remains of camel, horse and wolf. The cranium was removed and
transported to New York in January, 1937. In March of that year, Gentry and Blick
returned to Chinobampo to re-examine the site; they extracted a stratigraphic block
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sample of these deposits weighing approximately 50 lbs, and containing bone and
charcoal (Blick 1937). Shortly thereafter, Gordon Ekholm and Carl Sauer visited the
Chinobampo site in December of 1938, offering the observation that if the skull was
removed from the deposits described by Blick, there was indeed a high probability of a
late Pleistocene context (Ekholm n.d.:46). Donald Lehmer revisited the Chinobampo
locale during his Sonora Project in 1949, but was apparently unable to relocate any
Pleistocene deposits, and only noted the presence of archaic artifacts in the general area
(Lehmer 1949).
I didn’t have the opportunity to visit Chinobampo as planned during the Spring
2007 field season; however, eight months later during the Proyecto Arqueológico Norte
de Sinaloa field season in El Fuerte, Sinaloa, we were able to locate the site. The site is
situated on the Arroyo Chinobampo within the Rancho de Chinobampo owned by the
Navarro family since 1957 (and who were, thus, unaware of Blick and Gentry’s discovery
in 1937). The Arroyo Chinobampo offers a permanent water flow. At approximately 100
meters from the ranch houses, at the point where there is a prominent curve in the arroyo,
a two meter high exposed face composed of hard, well-developed carbonates (and
probably diatoms) extends along the arroyo for approximately 20 meters. It appears likely
that that these deposits represent the remnants of a lake. In this location, a cut ironwood
tree as described by Blick (1937) was also observed. No test excavations were conducted
to examine buried deposits, however, a close examination from the surface revealed a
small fragment of bone imbedded in the carbonate deposits; based upon Blick’s
descriptions, this is unquestionably the locale described in 1937. No diagnostic Paleo-
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Indian artifact was encountered, although further downstream, an Archaic period site was
observed. Future systematic investigations to determine the nature of these deposits are
planned.
Understanding the Paleo-Indian Occupation of Sonora
The investigations carried out by the Proyecto Geoarqueología y Tecnologia Litica de los
Grupos Paleoindios de Sonora have demonstrated that the Paleo-Indian (and especially
Clovis) occupation in north-central Sonora is very well represented. The majority of the
Paleo-Indian sites and isolated Clovis points are located in north-central Sonora around
the city of Hermosillo, here the landscape is integrated for three principal zones: Llanos
de Hermosillo, a more or less flat landscape filled by alluvium that slopes gently down to
the west-southwest into the Gulf of California. It is very probable that here lakes and
playas existed seasonally during the late Pleistocene. The intervening basins are small
and constrain biotic communities; and to the east the Sierra Madre Occidental with high
altitude resources. These three landscapes provided the Paleo-Indian groups with a very
rich mosaic of diverse environments that support animals and plants.
The Llanos de Hermosillo is a landscape with the highest distribution of Clovis
sites and isolated points known in Northern Mexico/Southwest US. When Clovis huntergather groups arrived to the Sonoran landscape they encounter an empty niche. Although
they were unfamiliar with this territory, they found a land with the best climate that they
have encounter and the most diverse and abundance of animals and plants. Permanent
water and lithic raw material for tool making are two resources indispensable in a given
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territory. The Llanos de Hermosillo and surrounding areas gave the Clovis groups all the
necessary resources.
The El Bajío site is an extensive lithic raw material quarry of vitrified basalt.
Clovis groups constantly used the locality leaving a considerable amount of debris and
tools over a four square kilometer area. The Fin del Mundo site is located on the Río
Bacoachi basin in a spring fed pond were an authentic oasis was formed. The pond
attracted several animals, including big Pleistocene mammals. Here Clovis people hunted
gomphotherium, and camped around the pond. They also exploited quartz crystal raw
materials found in a small hill in the vicinity of the site for tools making. Although we do
not know the ritual meaning of quartz crystal for the Clovis society it was a valuable
commodity many Clovis points in the United States were made of quartz crystal. El Bajio
and Fin del Mundo sites are approximately at 600 amsl and represent the highest sites of
northcentral Sonora; although we do not have an environmental reconstruction for these
sites a pine-oak with some shrubs community could have existed at the end of the
Pleistocene.
El Gramal and Cerro Izabal are located in the Llanos de Sonora near the Gulf of
California and they are almost at sea level 25-50 amsl, at the end of the Pleistocene
playas and lakes were present here and the environment probable was open grassland
with a few trees. The two Clovis sites that we know in this area appear to be hunting
localities were Clovis points were lost. Isolated points have been also collected from all
this area. We have not yet uncovered any evidence that Clovis people were camping in
these areas. The site SON N:11:20 (El Gramal) is the only Clovis site that contain a later
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Paleo-Indian occupation, and apparently was used throughout the Holocene. In the esta
zona baja se han recuperado por lo menos 20 puntas aisladas durante los últimos treinta
años.
The sites SON O:3:1 (El Aigame) and Rancho Bojorquez are located in the
southwest limits of the Llanos de Hermosillo where the intervening basins begin. SON
O:3.1 is located in the Rio Matape basin where springs are formed and seasonal cienegas
are present. The site is located at 300 amsl and the environment at the end of the
Pleistocene probably was grassy rolling hills with oaks. The SON O:3:1 site is composed
of two camp areas probably of Clovis age, although late Paleo-Indian diagnostic points
were not found at the site, Bustamanete collected at least one late Paleo point. An early
Holocene occupation is very well represented at the site by tapering stem points.
In sum, after seven years of investigations we are beginning to understand some
basic aspects of the Paleo-Indian settlement pattern in Sonora. The land-use consisted of
a multifaceted utilization of an extensive territory that they know well, directly related to
the exploitation of the elemental and important resources in the landscape. The Llanos de
Hermosillo was the center of at least one of the Clovis territories with large sites, small
sites and a substantial distribution of isolated Clovis points. Here they had access to an
important lithic raw material quarry, permanent sources water, a vast territory with
seasonal animal, plant and water resources, and access to costal resources. Sonora was a
new and unusual territory for the Clovis people never encounter before, however they
come across the best climate that they have never seen and a great diversity of food
resources. These optimal features of the Sonora landscape allowed the Clovis groups to
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stay and successfully settled north-central Sonora. In chapter 6 the settlement pattern, site
composition and lithic assemblages of Clovis Sonora will be compare with what is known
in adjacent regions.
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CHAPTER 5:
CLOVIS LITHIC TECHNOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION AND RESOURCE
PROCURMENT AT EL BAJÍO
Lithics can be considered the most important artifact category for understanding the
oldest human behavior (Andrefsky 2009:65). In many early sites they are the only
artifacts that survive decomposition. Lithic technological organization refers to the
manner in which human toolmakers and users organize their lives and activities with
regard to lithic technology. In the study of hunter and gather groups the lithic
technological organization deal with forager adaptative strategies and in a larger scale
with human land use related to the environmental, social and historical context
(Andrefsky 2009).
The human groups that inhabited Sonora at the end of the Pleistocene left us very
little evidence of their life ways. We must rely completely on their lithic technological
organization to gather information about their adaptive strategies. The reduction sequence
of the stone tools allows us to observe the transformation of tools during their
procurement, production, use and maintenance (Shott 1986:34). Although the toolmaker
can have a mental template of the type of artifact that he wants to make, the raw material
packet size, abundance and quality will determine the kind of tool that could be made
(Bleed 1986; Bradbury et al. 2000). Some models attempt to explain hunter-gatherer
mobility and settlement patterns utilizing the organization of lithic technologies
(Bamforth 1991; Binford 1979; Kelley 1988; Shott 1986; Torrence 1983). According to
Shott (1986), when a group of hunter-gatherers practice a high residential mobility, the
expected result expressed in the lithic assemblage, is the production of fewer but more
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versatile tools, with a wider range of tasks associated with each tool. These more versatile
tools evince heavier resharpening/curation when compared to formal, non-versatile tooltypes (Shott 1986:40).
Sonoran Raw Material Sources for Tool making
The regional pattern and attributes of the Late Pleistocene sites in Sonora make it clear
that it is very likely that Clovis groups do not represent a single homogeneous adaptation,
but more likely reflect assorted economic strategies and varied mobility patterns related to
the environments, resources and social contexts. Hunter and gather mobility patterns and
land use depends on the location of the needed resources. Water sources and raw material
sources for tool making are fundamental assets that have an impact in the hunter and
gather adaptative strategies. Access to suitable raw material for tool production is an
essential resource for hunter-gatherers (Figure 5.1), and can determine mobility strategies
unrelated to food procurement; with the time and energy invested in procuring raw
materials and tool production directly affecting the time available for subsistence
activities (Kuhn 1991:250).
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Figure 5.1. Raw materials in the Study Area (geologic map modified from a map online
of the Sistema Geologico Mexicano, www.coremisgm.gob.mx).
El Bajío Vitrified Basalt Quarry of Cerro La Vuelta
The El Bajío quarry represents the only massive and extensive raw material source for
tool making used by the Paleo-Indian people in Sonora. At least 98% of the lithic artifacts
documented at the El Bajío site were derived from this source. Cerro La Vuelta, together
with a series of hills with a NW-SE orientation, apparently were formed by extrusive
volcanic eruption, composed primarily by medium texture basalts that abruptly dissected
the granite pediment of the Sierra San Jerónimo oriented NE-SW (Figure 5,2) This
basaltic eruption formed a bajo or a playa-like landform where the El Bajío site is located.
Cerro La Vuelta is the most northwestern hill of this volcanic phenomenon. Although we
244
were able to find vitrified basalt of medium quality in the hills around Cerro La Vuelta,
the vitrified basalt most suitable for tool making is concentrated on the south section of
the hill.
On the southern slope near the summit, there is an extensive outcrop of vitrified
basalt along with enormous lithic waste material dumps extending for a distance of more
than 20 meters, along with fragments of cores, blanks, biface preforms, hammer stones
and abraders. The principal quarry area extends over a hectare. The vitrified basalt occurs
in prismatic and sub-prismatic blocks, and the quality of the raw material with regard to
the production of flaked stone tools is unpredictable but the overall quality goes from
good to supreme. Some blocks are fine-grained, and very good for tool making, while
others reveal abundant internal fractures and/or many inclusions of olivine crystals of
varying sizes. The raw material color is also extremely variable, ranging from a cream
color to a jet black. This material has the characteristic of developing a surface patina; the
artifacts at the site can display a thick yellow glaze patina, a thinner greenish patina, or a
grey patina.
This quarry appears to have been exploited principally during the Paleo-Indian and
Archaic periods. In the only locality where ceramics were documented, we observed that
the lithic artifacts were manufactured from water-worn cobbles of basalt, rhyolite and
diorite, with a notable absence of vitrified basalt. Locus 20 needs to be explored in much
more detail as it was discovered only on the penultimate day of the field season
(precursory reconnaissance suggests the possible existence of artificial terraces with
deposits that could be excavated).
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Figure 5.2. Location of the quarry at El Bajío
Obsidian Sources
Small sources of obsidian appear to be very common in Sonora, almost every site that we
visit contains small sources of obsidian apache tear (associated to andesite and basalt) that
possibly were used by Paleo-Indians.
At El Bajío an obsidian source was recorded in a hill located to the north of Cerro
La Vuelta. Here, the obsidian is observed in the form of small nodules between two and
seven centimeters in diameter; nodules no bigger than 50mm could be observed within a
100x100m area at the top of a little hill. At the Cerro Izabal site, in a hill located south
end of the site, an obsidian source occurs with small nodules ranging between two and ten
centimeters in diameter. At El Gramal an obsidian source on a small hill to the south of
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Locus 5 was located. This obsidian occurs in an area of 600x600 meters in small 2-6
centimeters in diameter nodules (Apache tears). The presence of obsidian reduction flakes
confirms the prehistoric exploitation of this raw material source. Apache tear obsidian
sources are distributed all over the Sierra Libre southeast of Hermosillo and have been the
focus of research by a group of geologists of the Geology Department at the Universidad
de Sonora (Jesus Vidal, personal communication 2010).
Quartz Crystal Sources
At El Bajío, the Cerro Rojo hill is located in the center of the site. This hill contains
quartz crystal and iron oxide deposits. Quartz crystal bifacial retouch debitage, and
possibly a Clovis point tip, have been collected at the site. Five kilometers west from the
Fin del Mundo site, a hill with enormous veins of quartz is situated around the lower
slope. The quartz material occurs in varying purities, but all displaying hair-like filaments
of the mineral rutile, which provides a distinctive signature for this source. Preliminary
reconnaissance identified at least three lithic workshop areas with thousands of pieces of
quartz debitage. A complete Clovis point and a medial fragment of a Clovis point
recovered from Locus 1, along with many more tools from Locus 5, were manufactured
from quartz crystal.
Fine Rhyolite Quarry
The Sierra Madre Occidental parental materials are extrusive igneous rhyolites and these
types of rocks are widely distributed. At the locality of Upanguaymas we register a quarry
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of a very fine rhyolite with artifacts and debitage. At least four Clovis points in different
localities are manufactured on rhyolite (see Gaines et al. 2009a). At Fin del Mundo
rhyolite is widely use to fabricate bifaces.
Quartzite Cobbles from the Arroyos
At the El Aigame site many artifacts were made from quartzite. Quartzite cobbles are
common in the local arroyos, and could be the source of the raw material utilized. Two
Clovis points at Fin del Mundo, as well as many other artifacts at Locus 5 are made from
quartzite. It is very probable that the source of quartzite at Fin del Mundo is local
however quartzite metamorphic rocks are located south from El Bajío according to the
geologic map (Figure 5.1).
Chalcedony/Chert Sources
All the cryptocrystalline silicates having genesis from sedimentary parental material are
in this group. Cherts undergo multiple phases of gneiss and configuration of minerals
during their formation, making very difficult to know the provenience (Foradas 2003;
Andrefsky 2009). We have not found any sources of chert during our investigations. The
chert sources from Sonora probable have undergone relatively isolated genesis due to the
silica precipitation from unique sources, such as a volcanic vent pushing through a
sedimentary (limestone) deposit, and although it will be difficult to find the quarries
because they are typically small, once they are found it will be easier to determine their
geochemical properties. Many different classes of chert/chalcedony were used for make
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Clovis points, end scrapers and blades in Sonora. No chert sources have been found
during our research; however, on the geological map limestone is widely present between
Fin del Mundo and El Bajio (Figure 5.1); a geological survey focusing on finding chert
sources could provide excellent results.
Sonoran Clovis Lithic Technology: A View from El Bajío
The El Bajío Clovis site is one of the most important localities for the Paleo-Indian/Clovis
groups of Sonora. Here an extensive lithic quarry was exploited and at least ten Clovis
loci representing camp sites and special activities areas are distributed in a four square
kilometer area. As yet, we have been unable to find buried deposits, the vast and diverse
collection of tools that have been collected at the site, are an ideal collection for studying
the lithic technology organization and obtain information regarding the Clovis hunters
and gathers adaptive strategies.
The diagnostic Clovis tool-kit is considered to include the lanceolate Clovis point
with its distinctive basal flute, large prismatic blades, conical, wedge-shape cores,
delicate end scrapers, and a variety of uniface and biface tools (including gravers)
manufactured from blades and flakes (Collins and Hester 2001; Haynes 1980, 1987;
Stanford 1991). However, the most diagnostic characteristics of the Clovis tool-kit is the
skilled reduction process used by Clovis tool makers. Using mostly percussion, they
achieved sophisticate and distinctive attributes such as overshot flaking and fluting that
are evident in the tools. After Clovis, no other group that inhabited Sonora developed
sophisticated flaking lithic industries similar to Clovis, making the Clovis industry
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relatively easily recognizable and separate from the other industries. Late Paleo-Indian
tool-kits are virtually unknown from the southernmost regions of the southwestern United
States and Northern México. The subsequent Archaic lithic industries in northwest
México and the Southwestern U.S. are much more expeditious in comparison, and there
are relatively few formal tools in the assemblages (Carpenter et al. 2002; Sanchez and
Martinez 2001).
Rock Patina on El Bajío Basalt Tools
The natural color of the vitrified basalt from El Bajío quarry is bluish black (GLEY
23/10G) and very dark gray (5Y 3/1), with olivine and other large crystals. The majority
of the Clovis diagnostic artifacts collected from the surface show a thick patina. The
patina present at El Bajío artifacts is not only a luster; it is a dense surface cover that
transformed the artifact texture and physical appearance of the rock, in some tools the
patina penetrate all the way to the core of the tool. It is very possible that the genesis of El
Bajío patina is a combination of physio-chemical and biological processes, and was
developed during a long period of time. None-the-less, the components of the soil matrix
and weathering play an important role at the patina formation in the tools.
For measuring the amount of patina contains in an artifact, the munsell color chart was
employed (Table 1). The biological processes of patina formation produced patinas with
more red colors that the chemical ones, these patinas need more time to develop. The
thickness of the patina in the El Bajío stone tools, sometimes was used in this study in
combination with some technological attributes as indication of there antiquitys, none the
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less a systematic study of the patina at El Bajío need to be developed to fully understand
their formation process.
Table 5.1. Patinas at El Bajío Stone Tools.
Munsell Code
Color Name
Patina Thickness
GLEY 23/10G
bluish black
no patina
5Y 3/1
very dark gray
very little patina
5Y 6/1
gray
some patina
2.5Y 6/2
light brownish gray
medium patina/biological process
2.5Y 7/2
light gray
medium -heavy patina
10YR 5/4
yellowish brown
heavy patina/ biological process
10YR 7/4
very pale brown
heavy patina/biological process
The Sample and the Analytical Method
Clovis projectile points have been the central topic of many studies (Agenbroad 1967;
Bamforth 2009; Buchanan and Collar 2007; Anderson and Gilliam 2002; Gains et al.
2009a; Huckell 1982, 2004; North et al. 2005), but the variety of Clovis artifacts
comprising the Clovis tool-kit very rarely are studied. According to Huckell (2007:186)
Clovis lithic technology can be best understood as a system comprised of four different
production subsystems: the biface subsystem; the flake subsystem; the blade subsystem;
and the expediency subsystem. Each subsystem begins with raw material procurement
and passes through various manufacturing/reduction stages terminating in finished tools;
these subsystems are not isolated from each other. After the tools are produced, often they
undergo a series of transformations until they are discarded (Andrefsky 2009:66).
251
Lithic studies on non-projectile point Clovis diagnostic tools are very rare, perhaps
due to the fact that usually very few lithics are found in Clovis sites. The El Bajío
collection is unique for the amount of lithics collected from the site, numbering around
14,000 artifacts. However, all of the artifacts come from the surface, making it difficult to
assign them to a particular chronological complex. This study utilizes the existing
literature to determine diagnostic Clovis types that have been reported at Clovis sites and
are considered affiliated with the Clovis techno-complex by the researchers. The degree
of patina is also used as a tool for determining their antiquity. The study presented here
relies upon the published literature available regarding Clovis technology (Bradley 1991;
Collins 1999a, 1999b, 2003; Crabtree 1966; Gramly 1990; Green 1963; Huckell 2007;
Sanders 1990).
The El Bajío site has been collected over the last 40 years. Investigations and
artifact collections at the site were made by Manuel Robles in the 1960s and early 1970s,
by the McIntyres in 1975, and by Julio Montané between 1978 and 1980. Unfortunately,
neither draft reports nor other documentary evidence exists for any of the prior
investigations conducted at the El Bajío site by Manuel Robles, Marion and Kenneth
McIntyre, or Julio César Montané. Furthermore, although these projects produced fairly
extensive artifact collections, reflecting both surface finds and subsurface excavations,
virtually no information regarding either horizontal or vertical proveniences is available.
Julio Montané collected at least 10 boxes of artifacts, although very little is known
about the provenience of his artifacts, his collection provides us with an important source
of Clovis diagnostic materials. The investigations carried out by the Proyecto
252
Geoarquelogía and Tecnología Litica de los grupos Paleo-Indios de Sonora in 2003
collected artifacts with a precise provenience information, although mostly the majority
of the artifacts were collected from the surface. Between the Montané collection and the
2003 collection a sample of 333 artifacts was gathered, comprising a very good size
Clovis sample of artifacts (Table 5.2.). The only tools recovered from a subsurface
provenience is at Feature 1 in locus 12, a knapping station were square base bifaces were
manufactured. The analysis is divided in three industries and three miscellaneous tool
classes; a blade industry (N=122), unifacial industry (N=92), biface industry (N=104),
expedient miscellaneous cores (N=10) and hammers (N=5).
The Montané collection comprises 183 tools, while the AARF 2003 collection
contains 150 Clovis diagnostic artifacts. Being able to collect 150 Clovis diagnostic tools
in 2003 from the El Bajío was an impressive achievement, given that the site has been so
heavily collected for 40 years, and is yet another reminder of the importance of the site.
Only twelve diagnostic Archaic projectile points were found in 2003 indicating that the
Archaic occupation at the site was not very extensive (Table 5.2).
253
27
18
1
3
15
27
1
2
2
1
15
1
3
16
1
19
1
Figure 5.3. Lithic industry from El Bajío
Total
20
10
2
4
Isolated
17
5
3
2
Locus 15
9
2
locus 12
Locus 7
12
4
2
Locus 10
1
Locus 6
Locus 2
Locus 1
1
1
7
Locus 8
154 29
1
Locus 5
59
47 26
42 3
6
Locus 4
Blade industry
Unifacial industry
Biface industry
Miscellaneous cores
Hammers
Total
M-Cerro Rojo
Montané
Table 5.2. Lithic Industry from El Bajío.
6
2
12
2
1
21
122
90
104
10
5
333
254
The Clovis Blade Technology in Sonora
In 1963, F. E. Green defined and described a new artifact type associated with the Clovis
complex; seventeen “Clovis blades” were recovered from a gravel pit at the Clovis site in
Blackwater Draw, north of Portales in eastern New Mexico (Green 1963). The simple
definition of a blade is a piece that is at least twice as long as is wide (Bordes 1961).
Blades can occur fortuitously during a flake-core reduction; however Clovis blades are
the product of a distinctive blade technology (Collins 1999a). Clovis blade technology is
common in central and southeast Texas at the Pavo Real, Keven Davis, and Gault sites
(Collins 1999a :4, 2003; Haynes 2002:110; Tankersley 2004:55). The blade technology
strategy is diagnostic of Clovis groups. As far as we know later Paleo-Indian groups (e.g.
Folsom, Plainview and Dalton) did not have a blade technology.
Blade technology refers to the knowledge, strategy, activities and equipment
involved in the intentional production of blades, involving an intentional preparation of a
core for extracting blades (Collins 1999a:9). In Mesoamerica, during the classic and
postclassic period (AD 600-1521), an obsidian blade technology was an essential lithic
technological process for tool making employed and controlled by Mesoamerican states
to fabricate blades on mass production. The blades and byproducts were sold to the large
cities, such as Teotihuacan, Tula and the Gran Tenochtitlan. The physical control of
obsidian quarries from the States was fundamental for managed the production and
distribution of tools (Pastrana 1998). Ten thousand years earlier, bands of Clovis hunters
and gathers fabricate blades employing a technology similar to the Mesoamerican one.
255
Clovis blade technology is common on Clovis sites from Texas (e.g. Gault and Pavo Real
sites), however is also present at Blackwater Draw (NM), Murray Springs (AZ) and
Adams (KY) (Collins 1999a). The end of Clovis is similarly the end of blade lithic
technology in northern North America.
Blade technology is the more efficient use of stone in terms of total length and
cutting edge produced for a given mass of stone (Collins 1999a; Pastrana 1998). Blade
knappers biggest concerns are the angle of flaking and the amount of force they deliver
into the core. Blades can be obtained by direct percussion with a sharp blow, the core
needs to be hold with one hand, with the foot, and also a second person of a holding
instrument can be used. To initiate reduction from a blade core it is necessary to have an
acute angular edge to establish a platform. In the case that the core lacks of suitable
natural face, a ridge can be produce by bifacial flaking; the flakes that are removed during
this procedure are referred as crested blades. The first blades removed from the core will
contain much of the natural cortex. As blades are removed from a core, the face is
constantly changing as the relationship between the core face and the platform also
changes (Collins 1999a).
If the angle between the platform and the face of the core is near 90 degrees, it is
possible for the toolmaker to move around the entire circumference of the core removing
blades, leaving an exhausted conical shaped core as a result. Damage to the platform
sometime occurs, and can be repaired by flaking the platform and face, but eventually
reaches a point were no more blades can be detached. If sufficient mass remains, a new
platform can be made by completely removing the platform by a single large flake from
256
the side, the mass removed is known as core tablet flake. The blades obtained from
conical cores in many cases have very narrow platforms and are curved as the angle
between the platform and the face is approximately 60 to 70 degrees (Collins 1999a).
Another type of core produced by Clovis people to obtain blades was the wedge-shaped
core. The blades produced by wedge-shaped core have a more acute angle that the ones
from conical cores. These cores generally have a narrow face and the platform is
multifaceted. Maintenance of platforms on these cores is much simpler and consists of
trimming an acute bifacial edge. Wedge-shaped cores can have opposing platforms. The
blades obtained from these cores are not curved (Collins 1999: 51). Following Collins
(1999) blades could be divided in three groups: cortical blades, non cortical baldes with
prior blade scars and prismatic.
Sonora Clovis Blade Industry
Clovis blade technology is an important component of the El Bajío lithic collection. A
total of 122 artifacts representing all the stages of Clovis blade technology have been
collected from the site, including conical cores (n=3), core tablet flakes (n=5), wedgeshaped cores (n=9), crested blades (n=9), cortical blades (n=12), non cortical blades with
prior blade scars (n=22), prismatic blades (n=49), flakes for core rejuvenation (n=6), and
platform maintenance flakes (n=7) (see Table 5.1). All the artifacts of the blade
subsystem were fabricated on El Bajío Basalt, with the exception of three chert blades.
257
2
4
59
1
1
3
3
1
2
5
7
1
1
12
1
2
1
1
3
Locus 12
Locus 10
Locus 7
1
Totals
4
5
5
9
12
18
Locus 6
Locus 5
1
isolated
conical cores
core tablet flakes
wedge-shaped cores
crested blades
cortical blades
non cortical baldes
Prismatic blades
Blade core error recovery
flakes
platform maintenance flakes
TOTAL
Locus 4
CLOVIS BLADE INDUSTRY
ARTIFACTS
Montané
Collection
Table 5.3. Clovis Blade Industry Artifacts from El Bajío.
4
3
5
9
9
12
22
49
1
1
4
2
8
9
1
2
17
3
6
1
2
10
2
6
7
6 122
Conical Cores
Three conical core fragments were collected at El Bajío from three different loci during
2003. The three conical cores from El Bajío are broken, all with faceted platform.
According to Michael Collins (1999a), blades obtained from conical cores have very
narrow platform and are curved because the angle between the platform and the face falls
between 60-70 degrees. One conical core with a multifaceted platform was collected from
the site by Manuel Robles in the 1960s; the core measures 90 mm in length, and is
presently housed at the Museo de la Universidad de Sonora, in Hermosillo (Figure 5.4).
258
Figure 5.4. Conical core from El Bajío at the University Museum.
37733
6
core fragment
66
53
52
35
45469
4
core fragment
95
38
48
38
45415
7
core fragment
148.5 30
61
56
Platform
Raw
material
Thickness
Width
Length
(mm)
Weight (gr)
Condition
Locus
Bag no.
Table 5.4. Conical cores from El Bajío.
Bajío basalt with
patina (color= 5y 5/2)
Bajío basalt with
patina (color= 5y 5/2)
faceted
Bajío basalt with
patina (color= 5y 5/1)
faceted
multifaceted
259
Core Tablet Flake
Core tablet flakes are associated with the repair of the platform in conical cores. When
damage to the platform occurs, it could be repaired by minor flaking of the platform and
face, but eventually reached a point were no more blades can be detached. However, if
sufficient mass of the core remains, a new platform can be made by removing the
complete platform by a single large flake, known as a core tablet flake. Five core tablet
flakes are part of the El Bajío collection. Four tablet flakes were collected by Montané in
1979, and one was found in locus 5 during 2003 (Figure 5.5 and table 5.5)
Locus
Montané
Condition
complete
Length
(mm)
22.1
46
35
30
141
Montané
Complete
35.2
72
32
22
1096
Montané
complete
170
81
78
40
199
Montané
fragment
25.8
44
33
16
37739
Locus 5
complete
24.5
49
43
25
Width
Bag
no.
1101
Weight
(gr)
thickness
Table 5.5. Core tablet Flakes
Raw material
Bajío basalt with patina
( 5y 5/2)
Bajío basalt with patina
(2. 5y 5/2)
Bajío basalt with patina
(2. 5y 7/2)
Bajío basalt with patina
( 5y 5/2)
Bajío basalt with patina
( 2.5y 6/2
Exterior face
multifaceted
Faceted
multifaceted
multifaceted
cortical
260
Figure 5.5. Core Industry: Core tablet flakes in the left corner, wedge shaped core in the
left lower corner, crested blades in the up right corner and blades
261
Figure 5.6. Core Tablet flake on El Bajio baslt found at Fin del Mundo
Wedge-shaped cores
These cores for obtaining blades have a right angle of 90 degrees, between the platform
and the core. Wedge-shaped cores from El Bajío have a much narrower and flatter face
than those of the conical cores, the platform is multifaceted, and blades are obtained only
from one face. The opposite face is terminated by bifacial flaking or retains original
cortex. Platform management of wedge-shape cores is much simpler consistin of
trimming an acute bifacial edge. According to Collins (1999:51) the blades obtained from
these cores are not curved and have bigger platforms than the blades obtained from
conical cores.
Nine wedge-shaped cores are in El Bajio. All are exhausted cores and blades were
detached from only one face. The platforms are faceted or cortical and at least half retain
the original cortex on their faces. The complete cores (n=4) with length ranging from
58mm to 82mm. The productivity of these cores is much lower than that of the conical
variety, however, the maintenance of the platform and face is much simpler.
262
140
Montané
35432
Montané
35440
Montané
complete
153.8
82
67
33
distal
100.6
60
54
39
complete
81.4
58
57
20
complete 71.5
62
49
29
fragment
54.5
52
43
25
complete
147
75
52
35
37550.2 6
45397
10
37550.2 6
fragment
62
31
61
32
195
Montané
fragment
Montané
5
fragment
72
54
60
24
695B
37007
60.5
51
49
18
Bajío basalt with patina
2.5y 5/2
Bajío basalt with patina 5y
5/2
Bajío basalt with patina
2.5y 5/2
Bajío basalt with patina 5y
5/2
Bajío basalt with patina 5y
5/2
Bajío basalt with patina 5y
5/1
Bajío basalt with patina 5y
6/2
Bajío basalt with patina 5y
6/1
Bajío basalt with patina
2.5y 5/1
Platform
Cortex
Raw
material
Thickness
Width
Length
(mm)
Weight
(gr)
Condition
Locus
Bag no.
Table 5.6. Wedge-shape cores.
30%
multifaceted
no
faceted
30%
cortex
no
cortex
25%
no
cortex
40%
no
faceted
20%
cortex
Figure 5.7. Wedge shaped core (bag no 37550) El Bajio.
263
Crested Blades
Following Collins (1999:19), the first step for successfully detached blades from a core is
to set up the necessary attributes removing and creating important features. If a core lacks
of a suitable natural face for the removal of the first blade, a ridge or crest can be
produced by bifacial flaking, ones the crest is detached the left over flake, triangular in
cross section with the prepared bifacial crest in the exterior face is called crested blade.
Crested blades are mostly used in maintenance of conical cores. Nine crested blades of
the El Bajío Basalt are part of the collection, six complete and three fragments (Figure
5.6).
Raw material
Thickness
Width
Length
(mm)
Weight (gr)
Condition
Locus
Bag no.
Table 5.7. Crested Blades.
695B
1098
193
695B
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Complete
Complete
Complete
Complete
18.7
22
28
20.5
79
60
59.5
60
24
30
26
25
12
15
21
18
Bajío basalt 2.5y 7/4
Bajío basalt 5y 6/2
Bajío basalt 2.5y 6/2
Bajío basalt 2.5y 7/4
35448
Montané
Complete
45.8
87
31
17
Bajío basalt 5y 6/2
45311
37546
7
6
Distal
Medial
38
11.5
78
54
30
18
18
8
Bajío basalt 2.5y 7/3
Bajío basalt 5y 6/2
37557
45413
7
7
Terminal
Complete
22
21.5
5.6
51
2.6
26
16
18
Bajío basalt 5y 6/3
Bajío basalt 5y 6/3
Platform Preparation/rejuvenation Flakes
For the maintenance and rejuvenation of core platforms, distinctive flakes are produce.
The dorsal side of these flakes is very distinctive because shows the scars of the
264
multifaceted platform of the core. The core platform rejuvenation produced by the
subtraction of this flakes is less intrusive than the core tablet flakes, and probably are the
first choice of the knapper for fixing the platform of a core, If this remedy fails, removal
of the core tablet will be the next step. Seven platform preparation flakes are part of the
El Bajío collection.
Exterior face
Raw materia
Thickness
Width
Length (mm)
Weight (gr)
Condition
Locus
Bag no.
Table 5.8. Platform Preparation Flakes.
695B
Montané complete
41.7
73
59
9
Bajío basalt 5y 6/2
Faceted
695B
Montané complete
46.8
57
70
12
Faceted
1087
Montané complete
64.2
71
70
13
195
Montané split
15
60
30
9
45412
7
complete
49
57
62
12
45508
7
complete
12
55
38
6
37608
5 -ele1
complete
31
55
50
7
Bajío basalt 5y 6/2
Bajío basalto 2.5y
6/3
Bajío basalt 5y 6/2
Bajío basalt 2.5y
7/3
Bajío basalt 2.5y
5/1
Bajío basalt 10yr
5/3
Faceted
Faceted
Faceted
Faceted
Faceted
Blade Core Error Recovery flakes
When a blade hinges or step fractures during blade core reduction, it creates an
impediment to further blade removals (Collins 2003:116). Occasionally, this obstacle can
be removed by driving a blade beneath the errant spot in the same alignment. In other
cases it is necessary to run a flake across the face of the core. Many times the flakes
exterior retains the hinged scar. Six error recovery flakes are in the El Bajío collection.
265
Raw material
Thickness
Length (mm)
35428
Montané
Complete
10.5
35
27
10
Bajío basalt 2.5y 5/2
1043
37551
37542
Montané
isolated 12
isolated 12
Complete
Complete
Terminal
15.5
36
19.5
30
46
75
38
39
28
7
14
8
Bajío basalt 5y7/2
Bajío basalt 5y 4/2
Bajío basalt 5y 5/2
37556.2
7
Complete
2.5
48
16
5
Bajío basalt 5y 5/1
37608
5 -ele1
Complete
31
28
55
11
Bajío basalt 10yr 5/3
Width
Locus
Weight (gr)
Bag no.
Condition
Table 5.9. Blade Core Error Recovery Flakes.
Primary Cortex Blades
These artifacts represent the initial blades that are obtained from the core. Twelve primary
cortex blades are contained in the El Bajío collection (Table 5.10). Ten are complete
blades, and two are proximal fragments. The primary flakes retain 50-70% of cortex, and
they have at least one cortical facet. The blades show faceted (6), multifaceted (2) and
cortical (3) platforms. The lengths of the complete blades falls between 57 and 135 mm
and their widths are between 25-60 mm. All the blades, with exception of three are made
on the Bajío basalt and all have patina in different degrees. The majority of the blades are
flat and only three present some curvature. The degree of curvature measure is the change
in course of the fracture in degrees between the proximal and distal end of the blade
interior (Collins 2004:120). At least five blades from this group present macroscopic usewear scars along one or two edges, indicative of scraping and cutting tasks; the use-wear
scars are covered with patina (these artifacts were collected from the surface).
266
Non-Cortical Blades with Prior Blade Scars
Blades lacking cortical surfaces comprise this group. Prior blade scars prevail on the
exterior surfaces of such blades. A total of 22 blades and blade fragments comprise this
group (Table 5.11).
Seven blades are complete; three are proximal fragments. The
complete blades vary between 45-86mm long. Their widths range from 17-41mm. At
least eight blades in this group bear macroscopic use-wear scars along one or two edges,
indicative of scraping and cutting tasks, use-wear scars are covered with patina,
nonetheless since the artifacts were collected from the surface
Bag no.
Locus
Condition
Weight (gr)
Length (mm)
Width
Thickness
Facets
Raw material
Cortex
Degree of
Curvature
Platform
Macro usewear
Table 5.10. Primary cortex blades.
1031
Montané
Complete
82.5
135
53
12
2 rhyolite
40
%
___
____
___
695B
Montané
Complete
18.5
66
23
10
35445
4
Complete
39.2
80
45
11.
5
35430
Montané
Complete
26.5
85
27
11
35448
asolated
3
Complete
45.8
86
32
19
195
Montané
Proximal
37
51
38
18
35440
Montané
Complete
161
130
64
695B
Montané
Proximal
60
48
R
60
16
Bajío basalt
patina
(color= 2.5y
6/2)
Bajío basalt
patina
1
(color= 2.5y
6/2)
Bajío basalt
patina
(color= 2.5y
6/2)
Bajío basalt
patina
1
(color= 2.5y
7/3)
Bajío basalt
patina
2
(color= 2.5y
7/3)
70
%
___
faceted
___
45
%
___
Multifaceted
+
70
%
___
faceted
+
50
%
___
Multifaceted
____
30
%
10
faceted
___
2 rhyolite
25
%
___
cortex
+
Bajío basalt
1 patina
(color=
50
%
___
cortex
+
Cortex
Degree of
Curvature
Platform
Macro usewear
Raw material
Facets
Thickness
Width
Length (mm)
Weight (gr)
Condition
Locus
Bag no.
267
50
%
10
faceted/
cortex
____
60
%
10
faceted
+
30
%
___
faceted
___
50
%
15
____
____
_
5y6/2)
695B
Montané
Complete
39.5
68
25
16
37544
6
Complete
34
62
46
12
45573
12- ele2
Complete
29
57
20
8
37608
5
Complete
51
98
30
12
Bajío basalt
patina
(color=
5y6/3)
Red/yellow
chert
2
(color=5yr
4/3)
1 Bajío basalt
patina
1
(color= 10yr
5/3)
Bajío basalt
patina
1
(color= 2.5y
5/1
1
Macro
Use-wear
Platform
Degree of
curvature
Raw
material
Facets
thickness
width
Length
(mm)
Weight (gr)
Condition
Locus
Bag no.
Table 5.11. Cortical Blades with Prior Scars.
1038
Montané
distal
33.5
81
30
12
1
Bajío basalt (5y 6/3)
___
+
695B
Montané
distal
12.1
46
31
9
1
Bajío basalt (5y 7/2)
____
+
35430
Montané
distal
10.4
45
23
11
1
Bajío basalt (2.5y 6/2)
+
1812
Montané
distal
19.9
55
29
16
1
Bajío basalt (2.5y 6/2)
mucha
patina
____
35429
Montané
medial
6.1
31
22
0.7
1
Bajío basalt (2.5y 6/2)
____
+
1096
Montané
proximal
5.2
29
25
7
1
Bajío basalt (2.5y 6/2)
cortex
+
1840
Montané
complete
59
86
36
16
1
Bajío basalt (2.5y 7/2)
cortex
____
35449
695B
Montané
Montané
distal
complete
26.5
11.5
64
45
29
24
11
10
1
1
White chert
Bajío basalt (2.5y 6/2)
___
faceted
____
___
35448
Montané
complete
35
75
33
12
2
____
____
695A
Montané
proximal
30
36
41
11
1
Chert cream and white.
*Similar to one at Fin
del Mundo
Bajío basalt (2.5y 6/2)
faceted
+
+
268
695B
Montané
complete
7.6
46
29
7
1
Bajío basalt (2.5y 6/2)
faceted
and
cortex
____
____
37540
5
distal
53.5
78
38
16
1
Bajío basalt (5y 5/2)
37529
4
complete
30
66
33
22
1
Bajío basalt (2.5y 6/1)
faceted
+
37629
4
complete
9.5
51
17
7
1
_____
____
1
Bajío basalt (gley 1
3/n)
Bajío basalt (5y 6/2)
37534
4
distal
25
60
27
15
37561.
1
37561.
1
45312
7
distal
14.5
43
38
10
_____
____
1
Bajío basalt (2.5y 7/3)
_____
____
7
distal
72.5
92
38
20
1
Bajío basalt (2.5y 7/3)
_____
___
10
medial
1.5
18
16
4
1
_____
____
30
28
34
9
17
8
1
1
1
Witeh chert with black
lines (2.5y 7/1)
Bajío basalt (5y 5/2)
6
Bajío basalt (5y 5/2)
Bajío basalto (10yr6/2)
45391
37574
37608
10
10
5 (feat1)
complete
medial
proximal
15
11.5
19
51
50
41
_____
_____
_____
____
____
____
8
____
Prismatic Blades
Prismatic blades are specialized flakes removed from a prepared core; the blade is at least
twice as long as they are wide and exhibit more than one parallel blade scar on their
dorsal surface. Such blades have a prismatic, triangular or trapezoidal cross section.
Forty-nine prismatic blades and blade fragments are in the El Bajío collection Table
5.12). The majority have trapezoidal cross sections. Twenty three are complete and they
have lengths between 40-123mm. The width of these blades falls between 16-40mm. All
are made on the Bajío Basalt with the exception of three blades that were manufactured
on different kinds of cherts. One such blade was made with the same kind of chert
observed in one artifact collected at Fin del Mundo site. At least one large blade indicates
bipolar flaking represented by opposite protuberant bulbs. The presence of a bipolar blade
in the sample appears to be an unplanned event. Most blades in this group have faceted
platforms. Sixteen blades exhibit macroscopic use-wear scars along one or two edges,
269
indicative of scraping and cutting tasks; use-wear scars are covered with patina. None the
less the artifacts were collected from the surface.
Figure 5.8. Prismatic Blades from El Bajio.
Figure 5.9. Prismatic blade from El Bajio.
270
Length (mm)
Width
thickness
Raw material
Degree of
curvature
Protuberant
bulb
66.8
1.8
45
18.5
44.3
5.5
26.5
14
68.5
94
102
77.2
38.6
complete
108
17
72
56
88
24
51
35
83
112
106
123
72
59
35
15.5
36
26
32
27
29
35
36
35
38
36.5
31
20
17
4.5
17
10
11
5.5
11
8
20
21
21
15
15
15
2.5y 7/2
chert
5y 6/2
5y 5/2
5y 5/2
5y 7/2
2.5y 6/2
5y 6/2
10yr 7/4
10yr 5/4
2.5y 6/2
10yr 5/4
10yr 7/4
2.5y 6/2
5
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
___
____
___
+
+
___
+
+
___
bipolar
+
___
+
___
1031
Montané complete 22.6
76
27
12.5 2.5y 6/2
__
___
faceted
695B
695B
695B
37672
37542
45305
45305
37730
37542
37538
37624
37540
37729
37530
37530
37561.1
45317
45504
45420
Montané
Montané
Montané
Isolated
Isolated
6
6
6
Isolated
5
4
5
6
4
4
7
7
7
7
complete
complete
complete
complete
complete
medial
distal
proximal
terminal
complete
complete
complete
proximal
distal
distal
complete
dital
proximal
proximal
5
39.2
34.2
36.8
39
6.5
10.3
50.5
89.5
54.8
12.5
44
17
7.5
19.5
22
17.5
18.5
74
48
105
81
73
82
40
53
69
79
111
60
72
35
28
34
58
50
46
81
16
40
39
36
30
18
25
40
36
38
26
38
30
30
38
__
8
7
15
6
___
___
___
10
10
___
___
___
___
14
____
14
__
__
___
+
___
+
___
___
___
___
___
___
+
___
+
___
____
+
____
+
___
faceted
faceted
faceted
faceted
22
29
46
7
12
10
12
14
8
9
15
24
12
6
14
12
7
15
22
9
8
16
45506
7
terminal
25.5
24
32
12
__
___
37555
37561.1
37560
45447
45314
7
7
7
12
10
proximal
distal
distal
distal
dital
1.5
42
37.5
11
6
16
5
85
34
35
18
34
30
30
20
4
13
13
12
5
__
__
__
__
__
___
13
12
10
___
1847
5y 6/2
2.5y 6/2
2.5y 7/4
2.5y 7/4
5y 6/2
10yr 6/3
5y 3/1
5y 5/1
5y 5/1
5y 6/2
5y 5/1
2.5y 6/2
5y 6/2
5y 7/2
5y 7/2
2.5y 6/1
5y 5/1
2.5y 7/3
5y 6/2
chert
purple/white
gray chert
5y 6/3
10yr 7/4
10yr 5/3
5y 5/2
Macro usewear
Weight (gr)
complete
medial
medial
proximal
complete
medial
proximal
proximal
complete
complete
completa
complete
complete
complete
695A
695b
35430
35430
35430
695B
695B
695b
35435
Platform
Condition
35428
695A
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Bag no.
Locus
Table 5.12. Prismatic Blades from El Bajío.
faceted
+
faceted
+
+
+
faceted
faceted
cortical
faceted
faceted
faceted
faceted
cortical
+
+
+
+
reclamati
on
+
+
+
+
faceted
faceted
faceted
cortical
faceted
faceted
no
faceted
faceted
+
+
+
trampling
Condition
Weight (gr)
Length (mm)
Width
thickness
Raw material
Degree of
curvature
Protuberant
bulb
10
10
10
10
10
Isolated
5-ele1
5-ele1
5-ele1
distal
complete
proximal
complete
completa
proximal
complete
distal
complete
9.2
19.5
13
22.5
53
23
61
13.5
36
72
60
44
62
75
47r
40
28
70
30
30
29
25
38
28
29
28
34
9
9
8
11
25
12
7
14
11
5y 5/2
5y 6/2
5y 5/1
5y 6/2
5y 6/2
5y 6/1
10yr 5/3
2.5y 5/1
10yr6/2
__
12
__
__
__
__
__
__
13
___
___
___
___
+
___
___
___
___
Macro usewear
Locus
45392
37574
45394
45315
45395
37657
37608
37608
37608
Platform
Bag no.
271
faceted
facete
trampling
trampling
trampling
cortical
faceted
faceted
tampling
+
Unifacial Retouched Tools
A uniface is a specific type of stone tool that has been flaked on one surface only;
scrapers are unifacially retouched tools with a steep, obtuse-angled edge that is suitable
for a number of tasks; including scraping hides, planing wood or bone, and cutting like a
knife (Whittaker 1994). A total of 90 unifacial tools are part of the El Bajío lithic
collection; flakes, blades and sometimes core fragments are blanks transformed into
unifacial tools. Thirty end scrapers are in the Bajío collection, 28 lateral scrapers, ten
composite scrapers, four denticulate lateral and composite scrapers, three tortoise back
scrapers, ten unifacially retouched gravers and five notched tools. Julio Montané
collected the largest concentration of unifacial artifacts from a single locality in 1979; a
surface concentration of unifacial tools was collected in the northern sector of Cerro Rojo
a small hill located in the middle of the El Bajío site (Julio Montané, personal
communication 2003). Twenty-six unifacially retouched tools were collected from this
locality.
272
47
2
1
1
4
2
1
2
5
1
2
1
1
2
Total
Locus 10
1
3
Islolated
Locus 8
1
1
1
2
Locus 12
Locus 7
9
7
3
1
3
1
2
26
Locus 6
14
19
3
1
6
4
Locus 5
Montané
Cerro
Colorado
UNIFACIAL TOOLS
End scrapers
Side scraper
Composite scraper
Denticulate
Gravers
Notched tools
Circular scrapers
Total
Montan
Collection
Table 5.13. Unifacial tools.
30
32
6
4
10
5
3
90
End scrapers
End scrapers are diagnostic Paleoindian tools. In the United States, they are extremely
important artifact as temporal indicators, like the projectile points (Collins 2003; Frison
1991). End scrapers are not merely diagnostic of Clovis, they are common on all PaleoIndian components (e.g. Clovis, Folsom, Plainview) but there are not present in archaic or
later complexes. End scrapers can be described as a triangular end scraper; about 5 cm in
length, many of them have a spur at the intersection of the lateral edge and the distal end.
Many spurs are broken off the artifacts, presumably though use (Morrow 1997). The
Paleo end scrapers were almost certainly hafted. In the state of Coahuila, Mexico, in dry
caves such as Cueva de la Candelaria and Cuatro Cienegas, hafted scrapers have been
found (Figure 5.12 and 5.13). Although the Coahuila scrapers are of much later age (AD
0-1400) is possible that the Paleoindian scrapers were hafted in the same way that these
examples.
273
Figure 5.10. Hafted scraper from Cuatro Cienegas, Coahuila (AD 0-1400 years).
A total of 30 end scrapers are present in El Bajío collection. Thirteen are made on
prismatic blades and 17 on flakes. Twelve scrapers were made on fine cryptocrystalline
cherts that are not locally available and imply several non-local sources of raw material
(Figure 5.15). At least two of the chert end scrapers were made on the same cherts used to
make two end scrapers and blades at the Fin del Mundo site (Figure 5.16). Furthermore,
an end scraper made on a red chert is similar to one scraper found at the Murray Springs
site in Southern Arizona (Figure 5.15) [C. Vance Haynes Jr., personal communication
2003].
274
5.11. End scrapers from El Bajío.
Figure 5.12. Fin del Mundo end scrapers.
275
Fourteen end scrapers exhibit one or two spurs, protuberances made by notching,
with one formed by a burin spall. The spurs are located at the intersection of the lateral
edge and the distal end, which probably function as leather puncher. Eight scrapers have
the spur in the left side; four in the right side, and the two scrapers exhibit double spurs.
The majority of the El Bajío end scrapers were hafted. Fifteen present notches in the sides
of the tools near to the base that appear to be hafting marks. In ten specimens the distal
end of the tool snapped probably when they were hafted; at least 12 scrapers have poor
lateral edge workmanship compared to the distal end, indication that they were
retouched/curated while hafted.
5.13. End scraper in Locus 6,similar tone recovered from the Murray Spring Site,
Arizona.
141
Montané
Bajío basalt
10yr 7/3
blade
Step
Termination
1027
1027
Montané
Montané
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
flake
flake
was hafted
1069
Montané
Gray chert
2.5y 6/2
10yr 7/3
gley 1
4/n
flake
Hafting marks
Spur (dorsal
aspect)
Function angle
Thickness
Width
Length
Attributes
Made on
Color
Raw material
Locus
Bag no.
Table 5.14. End scrapers Attributes.
45.9
32.3
9.5
40
No
20 mm
from the
base
24.3
30
21.5
18.1
4.9
5.6
20
20
left
No
Snap
28.8
23.6
15.6
40
left
Snap
Hafting marks
Spur (dorsal
aspect)
Thickness
Function angle
Width
2.5y7/4
flake
was hafted
30.9
48.5
12.2
45
No
Snap
10yr 7/4
flake
was hafted
20.5
34.2
11.3
25
No
Snap
1096
M-rojo
Bajío basalt
Pink chert,
heat treated
**same as
FdeM
10r 6/3
flake
28.0
27.5
8.6
70
1
Snap
1272
Montané
Bajío basalt
2.5y 5/2
flake
64.1
56.2
12.5
25
No
1847
Montané
Bajío basalt
2.5y 6/3
flake
was hafted
heavily
fragmented
step
termination
51.1
36.9
17.1
55
left
35428
M-rojo
Bajío basalt
28.4
8.0
25
M-rojo
Bajío basalt
was hafted
step
termination
32.8
35428
2.5 y 6/2 flake
10yr
10/4
flake
59.3
42.0
16.5
30
No
buril
flake
No
18 mm
from base
19 mm
from the
base
35428
M-rojo
Bajío basalt
5y 7/2
flake
was hafted
38.4
32.8
10.8
30
No
35428
M-rojo
Bajío basalt
5y 7/1
blade
was hafted
40.0
35.1
9.0
20
left
35428
M-rojo
Bajío basalt
2.5y 6/2
flake
54.0
69.4
16.7
30
No
35428
M-rojo
Chert, brown
5y 6/1
flake
27.6
25.2
15.4
50
right
35429
Montané
Chert, brown
10yr 6/1
flake
was hafted
step
termination
and hafted
39.1
39.2
13.8
40
no
No
10mm
from base
10 mm
from the
base
35442
isolated
Chert, yellow
10yr 7/6
blade
hafted
32
29.6
6
23
no
Snap
35447
695A
isolated
Montané
Chert, orange
Bajío basalt
7.5y 5/8
2.5y 7/2
blade
blade
hafted
hafted
19.8
31
25
22
4.1
6.2
20
25
left
2
695B
Montané
2.5y 6/3
blade
hafted
32.0
30.5
7.8
30
no
695B
Montané
Bajío basalt
chert ,yellow,
**same as
FdM
flake
Step,
hafted
27.6
29.0
6.9
40
right
1069
Montané
Bajío basalt
2.5y 5/4
10yr
7!10
blade
hafted
40
32
11
30
no
35435
Montané
Chert, purple
10r 5/2
flake
hafted
36
31
13
45
no
695B
Montané
2.5y 6/1
blade
hafted
20
20
3.5
20
no
37549b
6
Bajío, basalt
Chert, red
**same as
Murray
Spring
Snap
Snap
18mm
from base
12mm
from the
base
12 mm
from base
11mm
from the
base
distal end
fragment
10r 4/4
blade
hafted
37
21
6
20
right
17mm
from base
45460
8
Chert, white
10yr 8/1
flake
hafted
34
32
8
25
no
37556
7
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
blade
hafted
41
26
7
25
no
45398
10
5y 6/2
blade
Step, hafted
49
28
11
40
Right
37574
10
Bajío basalt
Chert, pink,
heath t**
same as FdeM
2.5yr
5/4
blade
step , hafted
45
28
8
40
left
35428
M-rojo
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
blade
hafted
39
31
5
20
left
Locus
Attributes
Bajío basalt
M-rojo
Made on
Montané
1096
Color
1079
Bag no.
Length
Raw material
276
No
12mm
from base
10 mm
from base
Snap
17mm
from base
22mm
from base
25mm
from the
base
14mm
from base
277
Side scrapers
Side scrapers may be made on blanks that are blades or flakes (Whittaker 1994:27). The
retouched side may be either the left edge or the right edge, or even on both in which case
it would be called a double side scraper. Side scrapers are further defined by the shape of
the retouched edge, being concave, straight or convex. Thirty-two side scrapers are part of
the El Bajío collection; side scrapers are not age diagnostic tools and are common during
Paleo-Indian times as well as during the Holocene. During the analysis of the El Bajío
collection was decided that the group of side scrapers presented here could be of PaleoIndian age. Some are manufactured on blades, a group of tools was found together with
end scrapers from the locality of Cerro Rojo that could indicate their use from the same
activity, and most of them exhibit a heavy patina.
Most of the side scrapers are made on flakes and three were manufactured on
blades. Six are made on a non local chalcedony/chert raw material, one was made of a
quartz crystal probably local and the 21 remaining are made in the local vitrified basalt.
Fourteen backed scrapers were classified as backed side scrapers, according to Gramly
(1990) a backed scraper is a side scrapers that have an edge comfortable and safe for
gripping opposite to the cutting edge. The back may have been created intentionally or
maybe a natural plane present in the rock that can function as the back. At least four
backed scrapers present a spur located at the intersection of the lateral edge and the distal
end. Two spurs were manufacture by notching and two were produced by a burin spall.
Julio Montané collected seven side scrapers form a locus near Cerro Rojo in the center of
the site, four are backed scrapers. The most interesting backed scraper is a specimen made
278
on a 81mm thick flake of a totally transparent quartz crystal, bag number 1094 (Figure
5.19).
Figure 5.14. Side scraper on quartz crystal El Bajio.
Raw material
Color
Length
Width
Thickness
Weight
functional
angle
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
quartz crystal
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
10yr 7/4
10yr 6/2
transparent
10yr 8/4
5y 5/2
42.4
60
81.0
49.5
67.6
44.2
46
50.0
42.4
49.8
18.1
20
21.5
25.1
24.9
33.4
61.9
106.9
52.3
56.1
40
45
30
45
20
695A
142
1034
35430
35429
192
1069
35440
35429
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Chert, red
Chert, red
chert brown
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
10yr 7/3
2.5y 8/2
2.5 yr 5/4
7.5yr 4/3
10yr 6/4
5y 7/1
10y 7/3
10yr8/1
2.5y 6/3
29.3
44.2
48.9
47.1
27.9
34.9
49.4
61.7
42.5
53.5
38.4
41
33.1
43.1
42.8
31
78.2
27
11.8
13.8
17.6
20.6
14.5
6.9
16
22.8
12.8
20.9
27.8
31.4
34.8
19.9
25
33.4
105.3
19.8
50
1
1
1
30
45
70
45
23
40
50
25
Atributes
Locus
1281
695B
1094
1079
35430
Spur
Bag no.
Table 5.15. Backed side scrapers.
backed scraper
backed scraper
backed scraper
backed scraper
backed scraper
backed scraper
in blade
1 backed scraper
backed scraper
1 backed scraper
backed scraper
Color
Length
Width
Thickness
Weight
chert brown
chert brown
chert orange
chert pink
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
chert white
Bajío basalt
10yr 6/3
10yr 4/1
10yr 5/4
10r 6/1
10yr 7/4
10yr 6/3
2.5y 7/1
2.5y 7/3
5y 6/1
10yr 5/2
2.5y 7/1
2.5yr 5/4
5y 6/2
10y 8/2
2.5y 5/3
31
47
46.5
30.6
42.1
54
39.3
55.3
51.4
58
39.5
31
72
12
74
33.8
36
31
52.9
31
42
32.1
39.4
41.2
33.4
34
55
38
20
61
15.1
10
6
7.2
11
14
5.5
16.0
15.7
14.6
13
50
15
5
16
17.5
25
9.2
14.1
17.5
44.7
16.4
42.3
34.5
28
36.2
7
47.5
2.5
87.5
50
30
20
25
25
30
50
70
80
35
30
25
20
1
Atributes
Raw material
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
M-rojo
M-rojo
M-rojo
M-rojo
M-rojo
M-rojo
M-rojo
5- e1
7
7
5
Spur
Locus
695A
1069
142
142
1096
1095
35428
35428
35428
35428
1096
37007
37555
37563
37540
functional
angle
Bag no.
279
backed scraper
backed scraper
backed scraper
backed scraper
1
1
1
20
Composite Scraper
Lithics defined as unifacial tool with a continuous invasive medium-to-steep retouch in
multiple edges (Sliva 1997). Composite scrapers are not diagnostic of any time period or
lithic complex in the Southwest and Northern Mexico. Six composite scrapers are part of
the El Bajío collection, all made on flakes. Five are made on Bajío basalt and one on an
orange chert. In this study we consider the composite, denticulate and circular scrapers
described here to have a Paleo-Indian affiliation. None the less, these types of tools are
common in Archaic assemblages. However, the thick patina that they exhibit, their spatial
association with Paleo-Indian assemblages, prompt us to regard these artifacts as part of
the Paleo-Indian assemblage.
280
M-rojo
35428
M-rojo
35428
M-rojo
695A
Montané
695B
Montané
16
42.3
40
10yr 7/4
46.4 44.0
19.4
47.7
80
5y 7/1
45.3 30.3
12.2
17.4
50
2.5y 6/1
42.8 33.9
13.6
19.2 40/50
5y 5/1
42.1 33.0
18.0
26.6 40-70
7.5yr 5/6
23.2 43.1
9.5
10.2 50-40
Length
55.3 39.4
Color
functional
angle
1096
Bajío
basalt
Bajío
basalt
Bajío
basalt
Bajío
basalt
Bajío
basalt
chert
orange
Weight
Montané
Thickness
141
Width
Raw material
Locus
Bag no.
Table 5.16. Composite scraper.
Denticulate Scrapers
These are scrapers with a morphology that displays one or more edges worked into
multiple notched shapes much like the toothed edge of a saw. These tools might have
been used as saws, most likely for meat processing and plant processing (Whittaker
1994). Four denticulate scrapers are present at the collection; two are side scrapers and
two are end scrapers, one of which presents a spur.
endscraper
Chert, pink
Bajío
basalt
Bajío
basalt
Bajío
basalt
2.5y 6/1
flake 31.0 20.0 6.0 24.1
2.5y 7/1
flake
44
18
11
10
2.5y 7/4
flake
93
74
16
107
2.5y 6/3
flake
39
25
12
15
sidescraper
endscraper
sidescraper
spur
7
Scraper type
45414
peso
5
espesor
45470
ancho
Montané
largo
1069
made on
M-rojo
color
Locus
35428
Raw material
Bag no.
Table 5.17. Denticulated Scrapers.
broken
spur
281
Circular scrapers
Also known as discoidal scrapers, there are usually based on a flake that has a circular
shape and scraper retouch completely around the periphery. In many cases circular
scraper are resharpened and reworked end scrapers (Gramly 1990:14). Three examples
are part of El Bajío collection; all are made on flakes with their bulbs of percussion flaked
away.
White chert
White chert
Bajío basalt
2.5y 8/1
2.5y 8/1
10yr 6/4
46.4
44.3
51.8
32.7
41.1
45.3
22
12.3
14.2
Weight (gr)
thickness
Width
Length (mm)
M-Rojo
M-rojo
12-e1
Color
Locus
35428
35428
45565
Raw material
Bag no.
Table 5.18. Circular Scrapers.
24.4
22.2
.31.3
Figure 5.15. Circular scraper from Locus 12.
Notched tools
These are unifacial tools that have one or more narrow concavities on its edge that have
been created via unifacial retouch.
They are similar to scrapers but with a tightly
282
circumscribed working edge. Notches may have been used to plane shafts of small
diameter in the manner of spoke shaves (Gramly 1990:34; Sliva 19997:43). All of the
specimens are made on flakes.
142
1252
35440
695B
37560
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
7
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
chert pink
2.5y 5/1
5y 6/2
2.5y 6/2
2.5y 5/2
10r 4/4
51
49.7r
65.3
62
28
42
67
54.2
48
22
22
23.04
18.6
21
6
46.3
77.6
63
67.5
25
Spur
Weight
Thickness
Width
Length
Color
Raw material
Locus
Bag no.
Table 5.19. Notched tools.
X
X
Gravers
Implements used for perforation; they are flakes and other tools that are transformed by
by unifacial flaking or notching in a sharp point. They are known as gravers, borer,
perforators (Collins 2003:131; Gamly 1990), Sliva 1997:44). Acording to Sliva (1997)
ethnographic documented functions of these artifacts include leather puncher, boring
wood, bone and antler, graving wood, bone and antler. Nine of the ten gravers at El Bajío
Collection are made in flakes and one in a core fragment. The gravers are not uniform and
apparently at least three were used hafted. One was fabricated by removing a burin spall.
283
Figure 5.16. Graver
Raw material
color
Length
Montane
Bajío basalt
10yr 6/2
37.4
1069
Montane
Bajío basalt
7.5yr 6/3
20.3
1031
Montane
Bajío basalt
2.5y 7/4
3.1
14
15
695b
Montane
Bajío basalt
10yr 7/3
60
48
18 56.2 retouch flaking
696
Montane
Bajío basalt
5y 7/2
48
34
1099
Montane
Bajío basalt
5y 6/3
100
45
18 Graver retouch flaking
1095
M-rojo
Bajío basalt
2.5y 7/2
45.2
39 17.1
30 notches and retouch flaking
35428
M-rojo
Bajío basalt
2.5y 8/3
67.7
46.2 17.7 38.4 notches and retouch flaking
35428
M-rojo
chert pink
2.5y 6/1
54.0
23.0 15.0 19.6 notches (big and masive)
37528
4 Bajío basalt
5y 6/1
52
Boring
hafted
Weight
Width
Retouch
Locus
1018
Thickness
Bag no.
Table 5.20. Gravers
17x10
yes
7.8 retouch flaking
13x11
no
6.5 retouch flaking
14x15
yes
112x10
no
buril
yes
25x15
no
14x12
no
30.5 10.2 12.5 notches and retouch flaking
41.08 12.4
30
9 16.5 burin
14 24.5 notches
3 no
14x13
15x11
no
Bifacial Technology
A biface is a two-sided stone tool, which displays flake scars on both sides. A profile
view of the final product tends to exhibit a lenticular shape; these tools are an essential
part of the Clovis lithic technological system (Collins 2003; Gramly 1990; Huckell 2007).
In comparison with the uniface and blade industries, the bifaces undergo a specialized
production phase that is distinct from the use phase (Andrefsky 2009:74). Six groups of
bifaces from El Bajío are discussed here. Primary bifaces (N=16), secondary bifaces
284
(N=36), Clovis preforms (N=15), Clovis points (N=2), square based bifaces (N=33),
bifacial gravers (N=2) and overshot flakes (N=2). The manufacture of projectiles is an
important part of the biface reduction at the site, however other bifaces were made that
were not related to point manufacture but were likely intended for use as knives, gravers
and other kinds tools employed in the daily camp activities. All of the bifaces, except for
one square-based biface, were manufactured on the local vitrified basalt.
3
1
1
2
2
1
3
2
1
2
2
2
1
5
4
9
2
4
15
1
Total
2
1
Isolated
20
1
locus 12
1
1
1
Locus 10
1
Locus 8
5
6
5
1
3
Locus 15
1
Locus 7
Locus 2
1
Locus 5
14
2
42
Locus 1
1
2
Locus 4
6
18
2
M-rojo
BIFACE INDUSTRY
Primary bifaces
Secondary bifaces
Clovis preforms
Clovis points
Square-base points
Gravers
Overshot flakes
Montané
Table 5.21. Bifacial Industry, El Bajío
16
36
15
2
33
2
2
12 106
Primary Bifaces
Following Huckell (2007:191), primary bifaces exhibit several large expansive scars of
flakes removed in a selective fashion, they are irregular in shape and thickness and they
have a generally oval shape with very little differentiation between the proximal and
distal ends. There are 16 primary bifaces in the El Bajío collection, eight are complete,
and the rest are only fragments. Eight bifaces retain overshot flake scars. Overshot flaking
consists in the removal of a large single flake that terminates near the opposite margin of
the biface or removes part of it (Huckell 2007). There is a high probability that the eight
285
primary bifaces with overshot flaking were to be transformed into Clovis spear points.
However, the remaining bifaces were likely going to be transformed in knives.
Retouch
type
Thickness
Basal width
Width
Length
Weight
Condition
Color Patina
Raw
material
Locus
Bag no.
Table 5.22. Primary bifaces, El Bajío.
142
Montané
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
complete 81.5 73.3
51.5 41.3
19
1068
Montané
Bajío basalt
2.5y 7/3
complete 50.9 68.1
45
16
1840
Montané
Bajío basalt
gley2 4/5
complete 20.8 51.7
51.7 2.7
1.4
1840
Montané
Bajío basalt
hue2.5 6/2
complete 43.1 66.2
46
18
35429 Montané
695B Montané
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
2.5y 6/1
5y 6/2
complete 45.4 76.5
Basal
40
43
37.3 32.5
53
33
14.2 Overshot
16
35428 M-rojo
Bajío basalt
5y 5/2
Split
28.7 68.2
--
1.5
35443 Isolated
Isolated
37542 12
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
Basal
82.8 60.8r
57.5 41.7
2.4
Bajío basalt
2.5y 6/4
Basal
203
84.1r
66
52
40.2
37555 7
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
Split
51
57
41
--
20
37538 5
35445 4
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
2.5y 6/4
5y 6/1
Basal
16.1 75.9r
complete 76.5 80.5
35445 4
37528 4
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
gley1 3/n
Basal
Basal
93.8 58.4R 69
67
62
60
37529 4
37530 4
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
5y 6/2
Basal
Distal
80.8 62.6r
27.7 30
35.2
35
--
78.9 65
47.1 32
59.2
16
51.9 40
50
--
Overshot
Overshot
Overshot
asymmetrical
20
Overshot
21.3
16.9
-Overshot
2
Overshot
12.5 Overshot
286
Figure 5.17. Primary bifaces, El Bajio.
Secondary bifaces
These represent formal bifaces in which the tip and the basal ends have already been
established. The flaking denotes smaller and more closely space scars comparing with the
primary bifaces (Huckell 2007:192). A total of 36 secondary bifaces have been collected
from El Bajío site. Only six of these are complete, 14 are basal fragments, and the rest are
distal fragments. All have concave bases and reveal a side configuration expanding from
the base. Eight secondary bifaces present overshot flaking scars creating an asymmetrical
ridge in one face with an asymmetrical ridge in the opposite side in the other face (see
Figure 5.23). It is probable that the bifaces displaying overshot flaking were going to be
transformed into Clovis points, while the rest were likely going to be transformed into
other tools. For example, the complete biface, number 35445 (Figure 5.23), with
287
symmetrical overshot flaking appears to be a knife preform and was not likely intended to
be transformed to a Clovis point.
Bag No.
Locus
Raw
material
Color
Condition
weight
Length
Width
Basal
width
thickness
Retouch
type
Table 5.23. Secondary Bifaces.
1031
35430
35430
1847
695B
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
5y 6/1
5y 6/2
5y 6/3
2.5y 8/3
basal
basal
basal
basal
basal
25.3
40.4
42.8
10.3
55.1
43.2
52.6
47.4
32.5r
46.6r
46
48.7
47
34
63.8
28
22.4
23.7
13
43.6
11
23
14
8
18
overshot
695B
142
1840
197
1069
1069
35430
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
chert
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
x
2.5y 5/1
5y 5/1
2.5y 6/2
5y 6/3
2.5y 6/4
5y 6/3
distal
basal
basal
distal
distal
distal
medial
6.5
16.2
12.3
7.7
19.6
7.5
53.8
35r
33.7r
28.7
32.5
37.2
48.3
72.5r
26.5
41.2
49.9
27.2
17.3
18.7
$50
x
44
__
6
8
18
6
11
6
12
1847
695B
Montané
Montané
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
5y 6/3
distal
distal
28.1
42.7
46.6
55.8r
41.5
46.4
__
139
140
Montané
Montané
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
2.5y 7/3
2.5y5/1
distal
distal
13.1
46.1
39.5
60.5
37.5r
49.5
__
7.8
12
35430 Montané
Bajío basalt
5y 6/3
medial
48.6
56.3r
48
__
12
35430 Montané
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
basal
15.9
28.7r
48.5
22.5
11
35428 M-rojo
1096 M-rojo
37542 isolated 12
Bajío basalt
chert red
Bajío basalt
2.5y7/3
10r 4/6
5y 6/2
distal
22.5
complete 9.5
basal
42.4
55r
28
45.5r
35
29
50
__
14
12
8
15
37542 isolated 12
Bajío basalt
GLEY24/5B basal
19.2
30.5
36.5
23.5
13
45566 12-ele2
Bajío basalt
5y 5/1
distal
23.7
49
35
no
13
45567 12-ele2
45571 12-ele2
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
5y 4/1
2.5y 6/2
distal
distal
7
25
41
51
27
40
45575 12-ele2
37670 10
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
distal
basal
6
73.8
33r
78
25
52
37574 10
37558 7
35445 4
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
Bajío basalt
2.5y 7/3
5y 6/2
5y 5/1
split
114
medial
7.1
complete 83.7
98
50
112
35445 4
Bajío basalt
5y 5/1
basal
35.4
35445 4
Bajío basalt
2.5Y 6/3
basal
25.3
__
16
16
7
12
35
6
12
38
17
45
35.5
25
6
13
49.5r
48.6
18.2
10
38.5
43
29.5
14
overshot
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot and
basal
thinning
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
symmetric
overshot
asymmetrical
Length
Width
thickness
Retouch
type
complete 62.5
68
54
17
37634 4
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
complete 43
53
41
14
37632 4
Bajío basalt
5y 6/2
split
38.5
66
36
28
14
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
asymmetrical
37516 2
Bajío basalt
X
basal
27.8
40.3
42
26.6
13
Basal
width
Condition
5y 6/2
weight
Color
Bajío basalt
Locus
37624 4
Bag No.
Raw
material
288
Figure 5.18. Secondary Bifaces, the lower row is ready for channel flaking.
289
Clovis Points and Preforms
Defined as lanceolate bifaces, strongly biconvex cross section, these tools display a more
or less concave base, sides that expand from the base, and basal fluting as their principal
attributes, and were undoubtedly used as spear points (Gramly 1990; Collins 2003).
More has been written about fluting than any other lithic retouched techniques, it is an
unusual technique that was utilizedvery early on the prehistory of North America. Fluting
probably had a practical function in thinning the base for easier hafting, but it is not a
necessity and in some points fluting was carried to extremes of perfection (Whittaker
1994:234-235). Projectile points are among the few artifacts that were produced for a
well-planned activity, and the shape must approximate a mental template just looking for
symmetry and the efficiency of the point (Andrefsky 2009). Seventeen Clovis performs
and Clovis points are part of the El Bajío collection.
Clovis Preforms. Fifteen Clovis preforms that were broken or discarded during the
manufacture are part of El Bajío collection. All have convex bases and the sides expand
from the base. Ten of the Clovis preforms present asymmetric overshot pattern that form
an unbalanced ridge on one or both faces of the artifact. They exhibit basal fluting very
early during the technological process with the purpose to thin the biface. Early fluting
has been seen in other site collection, but at El Bajío was extensively used.
290
Flute width
20
16
55
25.3
43
21
33.5
15.5
32
10
basal fluting
43
20
medial 43
30
12
basal fluting
38
18
5y 6/3
basal
52
36.7
31.4
8.8
25.5/30
19.6/14.4
7
5y 5/2
basal
41
46
46
12
16
21
37740
5
5y 7/2
medial 34
39
basalt fluting
/overshot
basal fluting
/overshot
basal fluting
35075
4
5y 5/2
basal
51r
40
37.2
11
30/39.1
26/24
35086
4
2.5y 5/1
basal
49r
41
28.1
11.5
38
18.2
35086
4
2.5y 6/2
basal
41r
41
26
7.5
38/36
25/18
35086
4
2.5y 7/2
basal
73.4r
55
44
13.2
basal fluting
both sides,
overshot
basal fluting,
overshot
basal fluting
both sides,
overshot
basalt fluting
67
28
basal
30.5r
42.3
33.7
11.5
basal
50r
50.5
30
14.7
2.5y 6/4
basal
47.3
36
24
10
35449
isolated
9
Isolated
5y 7/1
basal
55.7
56.9
20.2
13.8
35086
38048
2.5y 4/1
basal
63r
42.3
30
12
37819
15
5y 6/1
basal
37.4
49.2
22.3
37668
10
2.5y 6/3
distal
45
45313
10
10yr 6/3
37566
8
37559
695B
695A
37667
Locus
Montané gley2
3/10b
Montané 2.5y 7/4
Bag no.
Thickness
17.5/19
Basal width
31/38
Width
16.5
Length
28.5
18.9
basal fluting,
overshot
basal fluting
both sites,
overshot
basalt fluting
/overshot
basalt fluting
/overshot
basalt fluting
/overshot
basal fluting
Condition
Flute length
Retouch type
Bajío basalt
/patina color
Table 5.24. Clovis preform attributes.
10
291
Figure 5.19. Examples of Clovis preforms with channel flute.
292
Figure 5.20. Drawing of the Clovis preform d, e, f.
293
Clovis Points. The measures of two Clovis points are presented here, one finished
Clovis base was found at the El Bajío site in 2003 and one complete Clovis point is in the
local museum in Carbó. At least a dozen more Clovis points have been collected at the
site. All the Clovis points collected from El Bajío are manuifactured from El Bajio basalt
with excepción of one Clovis base made on obsidian. Collected by Julio Motane.
The complete Clovis point at the Carbó Museum is 88mm long and 29mm of
maximum width and small fluting in both sides and grinding at the base and sides, the
point made on El Bajío basalt however do not exhibit the characteristic patina that all the
artifacts at El Bajío site have. The collector of the point has been deceased for over fifteen
years and nobody knows the provenience of the point.
37628
Carbo
4
gley1
4/10b
basal
2.5y
7/3
complete 88
30.8 38.7 23.5 7
29
27
7
flaking type
Flute width
Flute length
Retouch type
Thickness
Basal Width
Width
Length
Condition
Bag no.
Locus
Bajío
basalt/patina
color
Table 5.25. Clovis Points, El Bajío.
22.5/22.5
13.2/13.1
fine retouch
20/22
10/8
small
annel falke
grinding
basal and
lateral
grinding
basal and
lateral
294
Figure 5.21. Clovis point from El Bajío at the Museo Municipal de Carbó.
Figure 5.22. Clovis base found in 2003
295
Square-Based Bifaces
Thirty-three lanceolate/triangular square-based bifaces were collected from the El Bajío
site. They are lanceolate/triangular bifaces with sharp corners and more or less straight
sides. A Clovis-like reduction process was carried out to manufacture the square-based
bifaces. The blade of the biface is reduced by overshot flaking to facilitatee hafting the
tool, several channel-like flakes were removed from the base of the tool. The squarebased bifaces from El Bajío are comparable to Plainview points; however overshot
flaking and the use of direct percussion for reduction of the biface appear to indicate that
these artifacts are more likely correlated with a Clovis technology.
In six examples the sides sharply contract toward the tip making a triangular
shaped point, five exhibit very strait sides with equivalent base and maximal widths, and
in eleven samples the sides expand from the base. Some square-based bifaces are broken
in a transversal angle that appear to indicate that at least some of them were hafted and
probably they were used as knives more than projectile points but at least two present
grinding in the base and sides. A comparison of the basal width and the maximum width
of the specimens (Figure 5.30) indicate that only five tools have a wider base than the
maximum width of the shaft. The rest of the bifaces exhibit parallel sides and bases,
similar of the Clovis points. Square-based points and knives are not part of the traditional
Clovis lithic repertoire; however at El Bajio they seem to be related to Clovis. It is
important to note that James Warnica (1966:249) reported three similar square-based
points for the gray sands that he attribute to Clovis.
296
Locus 12 is a tool making station partially excavated in 2009. This work area
specialized in the making of lanceolate square base bifaces, at least 9 artifacts have been
recovered (four complete and five fragments), at least 30 fragments that maybe can be
refit in the future, and 4000 retouch flakes bifaces were recovered.
Flute Length
Flute width
15
fluting and overshot
bifacial thinning
fluting and overshot
27.5
X
14
16.6
X
14
4.8
bifacial thinning
8.4
fluting and overshot
17.3
20
1280
Montané 2.5y 6/2
basal
X
x
43
9.3
1840
35431
Montané 2.5 5/3
Montané gley2 3/10b
complete 64.8r 36
basal
46.5 x
36
8
37.5 5.5
695A
Montané 5y 6/1
basal
23.6r 44
34.4 13
139
139
139
139
1831
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
Montané
basal
basal
basal
basal
basal
31.8r
40.3
34
39
28.7r
35
27.6
39
29.8
29.6
41
34.3
33
28
28
1831
Montané 5y 6/2
basal
27r
19.5 22
1831
Montané chert
basal
42.3r 32
695B
139
Montané gley1 3/10gy
Montané gley2 3/10b
basal
basal
45.5 38.6 33
41.3r 40.4 X
695B
Montané
isolated
14
isolated
isolated
isolated
gley2 3/10bg
basal
39.3
30
34.4 8
gley2 5/10g
gley25/10bc
5y 6/2
gley1 4/5y
basal
basal
basal
basal
38.2r
36.5
4.7r
36.5
34
37.5
3.1
x
41
34.6
3.1
42
isolated
12-e1
12-e1
5y 6/2
5y 4/2
5y 4/2
basal
basal
distal
42
40
41
x
38
30
39
12-e1
5y 4/2
complete 71
30
32
7
12-e1
5y 4/2
complete 64
26
26
7
fluting and overshot
asymmetrical
fluting and overshot
asymmetrical
12-e1
12-e1
12-e1
5y 4/2
5y 4/1
5y 4/1
complete 48
distal
41r
basal
51
24
29
43
24
5
7
11
overshot asymmetrical
overshot
ovsershot
37681
35449
37693
37843
37917
45541
37962
2 frag.
m15m16
2 frag.
m15-18
3 frag.
en
m16)
45549
45545
gely1 3/n
gley2 4/10bg
gley1 4/5gy
rhyolite
gley1 6/10gy
31
36
Retouched
type
Thickness
21
Basal width
18/20
fluting and overshot
Width
26/25
9
6.4
6
9.1
16.4
Length
11
X
Condition
22
X
Locus
overshot asymmetrical
overshot asymmetrical
fluting both side,
overshot
Bag no.
Bajío Basalt
/Patina Color
Table 5.26. Square-based points and knives from El Bajío.
11.5
7
fluting 2 faces
fluting 2 faces overshot
fluting and overshot
asymmetrical
overshot
7
8
1.12
7
fluting
overshot, basal/lateral
7.5 grinding
8
overshot asymmetrical
7
X
X
27/26.5 12/13
15/16
13/12
24
X
12.3
X
15
18
no
no
No
17/21
11/14
13
11
no
No
20
24
Bag no.
Locus
Bajío Basalt
/Patina Color
Condition
Length
Width
Basal width
Thickness
Retouched
type
Flute Length
Flute width
297
45548
12-e1
5y 4/1
basal
16r
38
34
8
fluting and overshot
14
9
45551
12-e1
5y 5/2
basal
40r
43
48
8
18
22
37569
35445
37632
8
4
4
gley1 3/10gy
gley2 3/10b
gley1 4/n
basal
basal
basal
41.5r 41.4 37.2 9
21.5 x
42
8.1
40r
38
10
fluting and overshot
5 flakes forming the
fluting
fluting
overshot
21.4
X
17
20
37636
4
5y 5/2
complete 50
37504
1
gley2 4/5bg
basal
3.4
30
30
7
33
5
several flakes make the
fluting
18/19
Figure 5.23. Comparison between basal width and maximum width.
298
Figure 5.24. Square-based bifaces excavated at Locus 12, El Bajío..
299
Figure 5.25. Drawing of the bifaces in figure 5.31.
Bifacial Drills
Two bifacially retouched drills are reported from the site. Both were found in Locus
12/Feature 2 and appear to be byproducts of the manufacturing process of the square base
bifaces. The two examples have a central drill 20 mm long and it is likely that they were
hafted (Figure 5.33).
300
Figure 5.26. Bifacial Drills
Overshot Flakes
Two overshot flakes were found in the Montane´s collection. They are flakes with a step
termination and it is possible to observe at the exterior face long scars with an
asymmetrical ridge consisted with overshot flaking.
Figure 5.27. Overshot Flakes.
301
Table 5.27. Overshot flakes.
Bag
no.
Locus
Type
695B
Montané
overshot flake
695B
Montané
overshot flake
Raw
material
Length Width
Bajío basalt
2.5y 5/2
49
28
Bajío basalt
5y 5/2
48
48
Thickness Weight
7
8
8
19
Miscellaneous Cores and Core-tools
Eleven miscellaneous cores of probable Paleo-Indian association were collected from the
site. Compared with the other three industries, this is a more informal tool making
process. Three single platform nuclei, three multiple platform cores, two bifacial cores,
two core fragments and one single platform core converted into a plane are including in
the assemblage. Three of the cores are made from chert, the rest are made of El Bajío
basalt. Flakes obtained from these nuclei were transformed into scrapers and another
tools. One exhausted bifacial core that was curated into a graver tool was made on a
distinctive pinkish chert (the same pinkish chert definitely from the same source as
exploited at the Fin del Mundo site to make one end scraper and a blade) (see Figure
5.40).
Hammers and Abraders
At the Cerro La Vuelta quarry (Locus 22) many hammers and abrader were observed, but
they were not collected. However, hammers and abraders were collected from Locus 6
302
and Locus 12. Tool making was an important activity at these two localities, containing at
least two knapping stations. Three tools are combination hammer/abrader.
Table 5.28. Miscellaneous nuclei.
Bag
no.
1031
695A
1069
35441
140
Raw
Material
white
Montané chert
brown
Montané chert
Locus
El Bajío
Montané basalt
El Bajío
Montané basalt
El Bajío
Montané basalt
El Bajío
140
Montané basalt
isolated El Bajío
37682 14
basalt
isolated El Bajío
37542 12
basalt
45416
37549
45505
7 Red chert
black
6 chert
El Bajío
7 basalt
Color
Lithic Class
2.5y 7/1
10yr 4/3
core fragment
multiple-platform
core
2.5y 5/3
5y 6/3
single platform core
bifacial core
5y 5/3
multiple-platform
core
84
46
25
109.4
5y 5/3
multiple-platform
core
63
42
20
70.3
2.5y 5/1
single platform core
62
58
41
151.6
5y 6/2
single platform core
bifacial core with
one spur ***same
pink chert from Fin
del Mundo
74
61
28
210
38
33
15
18.5
core fragment
31
18
13
6
Plain core
50
58
33
568
5yr 5/3
5y 4/1
2.5y 5/2
Length
Width
Thickness
38
18
13
12.5
45
40
18
45
80
50
64
64
Weight
33
20
176.5
81
Table 5.29. Hammers and Abraders.
Bag no. Locus
Raw material Type
37541 isolated 2 granite
Length Width Thickness Weight
hammer and abrader
68
56
31
167.5
37548
6 quartz crystal hammer and abrader
83
79
47
305.5
37550
6 dense basalt
Hammer
74
63
37
293
37545
6 Lutite
hammer and abrader
73r
Fragment of abrader
61r
45552 12- ele 1
Rhyolite
4
147.5
28
60
303
Figure 5.28. Hammers.
Sonoran Clovis Lithic Technological Organizacion
The manner in which toolmakers and users organized their lives and activities with regard
to lithic technology could be observed at El Bajío site. The only large lithic quarry of fine
materials known in Sonora is located at Cerro La Vuelta at the El Bajío site area.
Although, cobbles from the arroyos and cores from very small sources of material
suitable to be transform in tools are distributed all over Sonora; the restricted size and
quality of the raw material from these sources, constrain the kinds of artifacts that can be
manufacture. In extensive sources of raw material the tool maker has more freedom in the
design of the artifacts and the shapes are more uniform. If mobile human groups find a
large source of lithic raw material, they will surely make this resource an important part
of their exploitation strategy. Although much more work needs to be carried out at El
Bajio, and more intact archaeological contexts need to be located, based upon the analysis
304
of the stone tool assemblage, some preliminary inferences regarding the Clovis lithic
technological process, the activities carried out at the site,the land use of the Sonoran
Clovis groups, and the relationship between the Clovis assemblage from Sonora ans other
regions can be proposed.
Site Localities and Specialized Activity Areas
Up to the present, Julio Montané has collected the greatest number of artifacts at El Bajío
site. Unfortunately the provenience of the artifacts he collected is mostly unknown, with
the exception of his collection made at the north side of Cerro Rojo/Cuarzo that he
bagged all together. The 2003 Clovis collection is spread out in ten loci. Six loci have
most of the Clovis artifacts (Table 5.28) and a pattern of distribution could be observed
between loci. The Cerro Rojo Locus appears to be a specialized area of hide and wood
working; a total of 26 scrapers are concentrated in this area. Nine end scrapers and seven
side scrapers, denticulate tools, circular scrapers are represented. The scrapers at the
Locus Cerro Rojo have been used and curated, and the locality appears to reflect a special
activity locality (Figure 5.38).
Loci 4, 5 and 6 are very close to each other and it is possible to observe a
distributional pattern between the loci (Figure 5.38 and Table 5.29). Locus 4 contain
many bifacial tools, in the northern end of the locus three secondary bifaces were found
together, probably cached or stored. Bifaces were produced in Locus 4 and they were also
used (Figure 5.39). Locus 5 and 6 show a specialization in blade production; five blade
cores were collected from and 13 blades. Feature 1 at locus 6 is a concentration of
artifacts on a 3x6 meter area; here sub-angular blocks were brought from the quarry, and
305
core fragments and flakes for the preparation of blade cores and blades are present, at
least five finished blades are part of the feature (Figure 5.39).
1
1
1
1
1
1
9
2
2
2
2
1
5
16
36
15
2
33
2
2
3
5
9
9
12
22
4
2
49
6
2
1
4
5
5
9
12
1
1
3
18
2
3
1
2
5
1
1
1
2
1
1
3
4
1
9
7
3
1
3
1
2
6
154 29
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
3
8
1
6
2
1
3
1
1
2
2
1
3
2 1
27 18 16 26
1
1
3
16 19
Total
Isolate
4
1
2
2
Locus 15
locus 12
Locus 7
1
Locus 6
Locus 2
1
5
6
5
1
3
Locus 10
4
14
19
3
1
6
4
14
1
Locus 8
platform mantenance flakes
End scrapers
Side scraper
Composite scraper
Denticulate
Gravers
Notch tools
Circular scrapers
Hammers
Miscellaneous cores
1
2
Locus 5
6
18
2
Locus 4
Primary bifaces
Secondary bifaces
Clovis preforms
Clovis points
Square base points
Gravers
Overshot flakes
conical cores
core tablet flakes
wedge-shaped cores
crested blades
primary cortex blades
blades with sub-paralel blade scar
blades with two subparalel blade
scars
Blade core error recovery flakes
Locus 1
M-rojo
Montané
Table 5.30. Spatial Distribution of the El Bajio Lithic Technology.
1
2
1 24
7
30
32
6
4
10
5
3
5
10
333
Locus 7 appears to be a camp site were some daily activities proper of a camp area
were carried out. Ten blades were recovered from the loci, all of them have use-wear
damage, end scrapers on blades are also present, as well as, some bifacial tools. Clovis
artifacts are very well preserved and apparently they were recently exposed; further
306
investigations needed to be carried out at this locality (Figure 5.38 and Table 5.29). Locus
10 appears to be a camp area. At least 10 blades and two end scrapers were collected, the
artifacts have been damaged by trampling, and as the granite bed rock is exposed on the
surface, it would be difficult to find an intact deposits at this locality; apparently, the
Clovis points collected by Manuel Robles were obtained from this locus (Julio Montane,
personal communication 2003). Locality 12 is a specialized activity area where El Bajío
square-based points were being produced. The workshop is located within a 5x3 meter
area consisting of at least nine square base bifaces, at least 20 biface fragments and 4,000
bifacial thinning flakes.
Figure 5.29.Distribution of Clovis tools at the sites (Locus in red).
307
Table 5.31. Distribution of the Lithic Industries by artifact clases at the site loci.
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Mcuarzo
Primary bifaces
1
Secundary bifaces
2
Locus 1 Locus 2 Locus 4 Locus 5 Locus 6 Locus 7 Locus 8 Locus 10 locus 12 Locus 15
5
1
Clovis preforms and Clovis
6
Square base bifaces and points
1
conical, wedges and tablets cores
1
1
6
1
1
1
3
1
3
3
3
1
1
4
primary cortex blades
1
1
blades with two subparalel blade scars
3
2
3
5
End scrapers
9
Side scrapers
7
2
Composite, denticulated, notched, circular scraper
6
1
Gravers -unifacial and bifacial-
3
1
Hammers
4
2
1
crested blades, and error recovery
blades with one sub-paralel blade scars
2
1
1
9
1
2
4
8
1
1
1
3
3
6
1
1
2
1
2
3
1
Based upon the distribution and types of the lithic artifacts at the El Bajioi, it is
possible to propose that El Bajio site was not only a quarry for tool making. Although
tool making is the principal and more important activity at the site, a series of camp sites
are located at the El Bajío and different activities were carried out. In the encampments
the artifacts show abundant use and curation, many of them are modified and converted in
artifacts with additional functions such as gravers and notches. More studies at the site
will be necessary for understanding this complex site and learn more about the forager
strategies of the Clovis groups.
308
Sonoran Clovis Foragers Group Interactions and Land-Use
The lithic technological organization of the Paleo-Indian sites in Sonora could provide
some insight to the human groups’ interactions and their land-use. Only two percent of
the artifacts at El Bajío are made from non local raw material other than the El Bajío
basalt. Twenty-five percent of the end scrapers and side scrapers are manufactured on
different kind of chalcedony/cherts; however, only three bifacial tools and seven blades
are manufacture in non local raw material, mostly chert. Because El Bajío is a quarry that
was used to make all types of tools, the artifacts made on non-local raw material appear to
indicate interactions between forager groups.
Figure 5.30. Non local raw materials vs El Bajío basalt.
309
A regional survey focused upon the lithology of the area is a must for future
investigations in order to understand interactions between the sites. Observing a geologic
map of the region, it is evident that the sources of raw materials are concentrated in
discreet distributions. El Bajio basalt is distributed close to the El Bajío site; two sources
of rhyolite are located close to Fin del Mundo, a basalt raw material source is located
close to El Gramal. South of El Bajio in the sierrita between the Río San Miguel valley
and the Río Zanjón alluvial plain, a complex array of fissures containing metamorphic
materials of different ages is observed (Figure 5.40). Between El Bajío and Fin del
Mundo, the geologic map shows a concentration of very old limestone; chalcedony/chert
being developed from sedimentary rocks such as limestone (Figure 5.40).
Five different kind of cherts used to manufacture scrapers at El Bajio site were
identified at a macroscopic level as the same cherts used in four artifacts at Fin del
Mundo. The utilization of the same raw material for making tool between El Bajio and
Fin del Mundo (materials probably located in the region but not locally available), appear
to indicate that the forager human groups interact and maybe share the same land-use
pattern.
It is odd that the raw materials for manufacturing Clovis points and bifacial tools
are not shared between the sites. At Fin del Mundo, the majority of the bifaces are made
of rhyolite, and the Clovis points are made on chert, quartz crystal and quartzite; we have
yet to find a biface at Fin del Mundo manufactured of El Bajío basalt. All the bifaces and
Clovis points and preforms at El Bajío site are made on the local basalt. According to
310
Andrefsky (2009:69), projectile points have very discrete production and use phases, they
represent the only tools that have to be made with precision, the shape and the
technological characteristics will determine the efficiency of the projectiles. It is possible
that each hunter makes their own projectile points in order to control all the attributes for
better success during hunting.
Figure 5.31.Tools from El Bajio and Fin del Mundo, made with the same chert/calcedony.
311
Technological Inferences and Comparisons with other Clovis Industry
Three major Clovis industries were distinguished at El Bajio site: 1) a blade industry
(n=122); 2) a biface industry (n=104); and 3) a uniface industry (n=90). An informal
core-flake industry much smaller and maybe related to the uniface industry (n=10).
Biface Industry. According to Collins (1999:45) biface production is ubiquitous
and remarkably uniform over the entire continent during the Clovis period; the El Bajío
site is not the exception. A comparison between the width of the primary bifaces,
secondary bifaces and Clovis preforms indicates that primary bifaces were transformed
into both Clovis preforms and secondary bifaces serving as blanks for additional types of
tools (Figure 5.32). The secondary bifaces are reduced by removing broad extensive
flakes and overshot flakes; bifacial flaking removal is performed in a serial fashion. Once
the knapper established an appropriate lateral and longitudinal cross section, the fluting
can begin (Crabtree 1966; Huckell 2007). Channel flakes are obtained by making small
platforms in the basal edge by making a straight, beveled edge or by making a small
platform or nipple. The El Bajio bifacial industry is comparable with several Clovis sites,
including the Adams, Murray Springs and Gault sites.
A unique projectile point/knife at El Bajio are the square-based points; lanceolate
to triangular in shape and they are retouched the same way that Clovis points using
overshot flaking; Twenty four of them have sharp straight corners and in five, both sides
are contracting toward the tip (Figure 5.37). It is possible that at least five square-based
bifaces represent knives instead of projectiles, but the remainder appears to be projectile
312
points. Although we do not know if the square-based points are contemporaneous to
Clovis points, they were reported by James Warnica (1966:249) for the gray sands at the
Clovis site. There is a possibility that the square-based points could be of late PaleoIndian age, however, more research needs to be conducted at the site. Clovis preforms at
El Bajio have convex bases; a convex base is fundamental for fluting and it is very
common at the Gault site (Dickens 2007). The square-based points from El Bajío never
had a convex base, and very early in their manufacturing process the base was plain and
had straight and sharp corners; the base is thinned by removing three or four small flutes
and a concave base was unnecessary. Square-based points have been recovered from
different sites in Sonora; at Fin del Mundo four square-based points were made on
rhyolite.
Figure 5.32. Width of primary bifaces, secondary bifaces and Clovis performs.
313
Figure 5.33. Basal outline of the Bifaces
Blade Industry. The Bajío basalt at the quarry is presented in sub-angular blocks
that naturally contained acute angles and ridges making the preparation of blade cores
easier. The Paleo-Indian tool makers at El Bajío prepared the core removing crested
blades and forming ridges. Multifaceted platforms are the most common way to prepare
the cores. The longest complete blade is 135mm, however there are blade fragments of
about 108mm in the collection that most derived from blades of about 200mm. An
assessment of the three types of blades (cortical, non-cortical and prismatic blades) reveal
that they are part of the same reduction process, the cortical blades are longer and wider,
and the tabular/prismatic blades are shorter and slim (Figure 5.6 and 5.7). Nine of the 23
prismatic blades present the typical curvature of the Clovis blades. One third of the blades
314
from El Bajío are fragments that exhibit heavy patina in the broken ends suggesting that
were broken during used. Some blades were used without any further modification and
some were transformed into end scrapers.
160
140
Prismatic blade
Blades without cortex
Primary blades
Lenght of Complete Blade in mm
120
100
80
60
40
20
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 11 12 13 14
Number of Blades
15
16
17
18
19
20
Figure 5.34. Blades lengths.
21
22
23
315
70
60
Primary Flakes
Blades without cortex
Blade width in mm
50
Prismatic Blades
40
30
20
10
0
1
3
5
7
9
11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47
Number of blades
Figure 5.35. Blades widths.
Blade technology is an important part of the Clovis contexts in several sites of
North America. True blades have never been found associated with Folsom or other late
Paleo-Indian assemblages, and are presumed to be unique to Clovis occupations (Collins
1999). At Murray Springs, Arizona, Huckell (2007:205) reported 13 blades. Most of the
blades presented a prepared platform and were unifacially retouched. From Black Water
Draw, New Mexico, Green (1963) reported 17 blades, presumably part of a cache site. At
the Adams Site in Kentucky, Sanders (1990) reports 2,000 blades, conical and wedgeshape cores. The Gulf Coastal Plain in Central Texas is the region with the most reported
of Clovis blade artifacts. Gault, Pavo Real, Kincaid and Keven Davis Cache sites
contained Clovis blades, conical and wedge-shape cores, core tablets and other lithics
316
associated with blade making technology (Collins 1999, 2003 and Hester 2003). At the El
Bajío Clovis site all of the artifacts associated with the blade technology have been found.
The El Bajío site represents the most important locality outside of central Texas with
evidence of blade technology.
End Scrapers. In the Sonora collection, end scrapers could be considered a
significant diagnostic Paleo-Indian tool that was an important product in the interaction
between Clovis groups. At least 25 percent of the scrapers at El Bajío are made of fine
non-local materials that are also utilized at other sites. The artifacts collected by Julio
Montané at the north end of the Cerro Rojo appear to indicate that the area represents a
locality specialized in activities related to hide and wood working.
End scrapers have been found associated with Clovis assamblages as well as Later
Paleo-Indian sites (e.g. Folsom, Plainview and Dalton) contexts. At the El Bajío site, late
Paleo-Indian assemblages have not been identified. Approximately half of the end
scrapers are made on Clovis prismatic blades. End scrapers of the Clovis complex are
unique and distinctive and the ones made in blades are pretty much alike between the
sites, the end scrapers at El Bajío are similar to the Murray Springs, Arizona, Fin del
Mundo, Sonora, and Pavo Real, Texas.
Final Considerations
The lithic technological organization at El Bajio indicates that the Cerro la Vuelta quarry
was, for the Clovis groups of Sonora, the most important landmark of the region. The
quarry is presented in sub-angular blocks easy to reduce and they vitrified basalt have the
317
best quality for tool making. Presently, Cerro la Vuelta represents the only large quarry of
fine materials in Sonora, and provides the principal reasons for the exploitation of the
quarry and the distribution of camp sites and workshops in a four kilometer perimeter of
Cerro La Vuelta.
In El Bajio blades were manufactured utilizing conical cores and wedge shaped
cores The blade industry is comparable with Pavo Real, Gault site and Adams site all
quarry sites, the blades at El Bajío could be compared with the blades found at Murray
Springs because many of them are modified into end scrapers and lateral scrapers. The
Clovis preforms with long and deep flutes made in the early stages of the process, appear
to be a local technological marker of the El Bajío tool makers however it is not exclusive,
at the Adams site in Kentucky early fluting is very common, and could be related with the
hardness of the raw material; experiments will have to be completed in order to confirm
this possibility. It is feasible that in quarry sites more early fluting is present because the
bifaces are discarded at the site and are found. There is no doubt that the El Bajío artifact
collection is one of the most important Clovis assemblages that exist in western North
America. Future intrasite investigations, regional studies focus on the relationship
between sites, and experiments on lithic technology, will make a great contribution to our
knowledge of the Late Pleistocene Clovis occupation of the continent.
318
CHAPTER 6
REGIONAL AND PANREGIONAL INTEGRATION AND INTERACCION OF
THE SONORAN CLOVIS GROUPS
Land Use, Demography, Territory and Timing of the Sonoran Clovis Culture
The archaeological record of the first Americans in Mexico is poorly known and
somewhat confusing. However, the state of Sonora presents a remarkably pristine setting
for studying the late Pleistocene occupation of North America. The early archaeological
record in Sonora is stunning in terms of its relative abundance and only within the past
ten years has this fact become evident. The rapidly deflating surfaces, due in part to
overgrazing, might be one reason that these sites are extraordinarily visible. Nevertheless,
the Sonoran landscape, the environment along with the essential resources required by
Paleo-Indian groups definitely contributed to making this region especially attractive to
these early groups.
Based upon the current research, some propositions regarding forager land use,
economic strategies, and interactions between hunter and gatherer groups of the late
Pleistocene occupation of Sonora can also be addressed. The Paleo-Indian sites are
concentrated in north-central Sonora on and surrounding, the Llanos de Hermosillo, a
more or less flat alluvium-filled landscape that slopes gently down to the west-southwest
into the Gulf of California. It is very probable that lakes and playas existed here during
the late Pleistocene forming a savanna-like environment with abundant water for large
animals. The Llanos de Hermosillo are surrounded to the east and south by intervening
basins containing diverse biotic communities that at the end of the Pleistocene probably
presented a mosaic of plant communities with high return rates.
319
The Clovis groups that inhabited the Llanos de Hermosillo and surrounding areas
exploited an extensive territory of approximately 25,000 square kilometers; surley they
have an extensive knowledge of the territory and were able to organize and exploit a large
and pristine landscape. Although, their territory contains a fine lithic quarry of
considerable dimensions at El Bajío, their vast knowledge of the region allow them to
utilized a variety of raw materials for tool making, including different cherts, quartzite,
quartz crystal, rhyolite, obsidian and basalt. Their social organization and the fact that
Sonora was an empty niche permitted this type of settlement pattern at the end of the
Pleistocene. Clovis groups likely were organized in family groups of 25-40 members
which residential mobility, congregation in specific localities, and assemble of the groups
for specific activities were possible because they maintained significant social ties with
the regional group, that in part is observed in the homogeneity of the Clovis points and
the lithic assemblage in general. Although acquiring food is essential for the survival of
the groups, water sources and lithic material for tool making likely determined residential
mobility.
El Bajío is the most important site of the region; it is ideally situated at the edge of
the Llanos de Hermosillo and also at the edge of the Rio San Miguel valley that provided
a natural corridor. It is an extensive and complex site where family groups congregated to
exploit the region’s most important lithic quarry. Access to suitable raw material for tool
production is an essential resource for hunter-gatherers, and can determine mobility
strategies unrelated to food procurement; with the time and energy invested in procuring
320
raw materials and tool production directly affecting the time available for subsistence
activities (Kuhn 1991:250).
At the El Bajío site, the family groups congregated
predominantly for tool making activities, however hide working activities and extensive
camp areas are present at the site.
The Bacoachi basin north of the Llanos de Hermosillo offers an important source
of subsurface water and many springs born in the mid section of the basin, the Fin del
Mundo site is located in a spring area where a cienega was formed at the end of the
Pleistocene, although we do not have an environmental reconstruction yet, an open pineoak biotic community should have existed at the site that was a paradise for vegetarian
mammals as proboscidian, horse and deer. Fin del Mundo is a site that contains all of the
critical resources; permanent water, lithic sources for tool making and animals for
hunting.
The El Aigame site is located in the southeast corner of the Llanos de Hermosillo,
the site is composed by two camp areas. During the Pleistocene, several spring-fed
cienegas existed at the site supporting open grasslands where proboscidians likely ranged.
We have documented two Clovis sites in the Llanos de Hermosillo, at El Gramal and
Cerro Izabal. These are hunting localities, and they contain only broken and worn out
Clovis projectile points, and there is no evidence that encampments existed in these
locations.
The fundamental resources for hunter and gatherer groups, permanent water and
lithic raw material for tool making are two indispensable in a given territory. The Llanos
de Hermosillo and surrounding areas offered the Clovis groups all the necessary
321
resources. The El Bajío quarry site probably was persistently utilized by Clovis groups
who left a considerable amount of debris and tools over a four square kilometer area. One
of the important activities carried out at El Bajío was the manufacture of blades: at least a
100 blades have been collected at the site. Bifaces and Clovis points manufacture is also
well represented.
Five blades and two core rejuvenation tablet flakes collected at Fin del Mundo
were made on El Bajío vitrified basalt, located approximately 150 kilometers. The
presence of tablet flakes from El Bajío basalt appear to indicate that cores from the El
Bajío quarry were transported to the camp site at Fin del Mundo, and blades were
obtained there.
The relationship between sites at the regional level can be observed between Fin
del Mundo and El Bajío. End scrapers are important tools of the Clovis assemblage at
both sites. Examination under the binocular microscope of this type of tools reveled that
at least eight artifacts from El Bajío and seven artifacts from Fin del Mundo (locus 5)
were made with the same kind of raw materials, obtained from five different raw material
sources. Although, it will be difficult to find the quarries, once they are found it will be
easier to determine their geochemical properties. We do not know if Clovis people from
Fin del Mundo and El Bajío were sharing the raw material source or they were
exchanging finished artifacts. At least two of the end scrapers from each site appear to
have been obtained from the same core. The utilization of the same raw material for
making tool between El Bajío and Fin del Mundo (materials probably located in the
region but not locally available), indicates that Clovis forager groups had a vast
322
knowledge of their region, interacted in communal activities (e.g. hide processing), and
perhaps shared the same land-use pattern. The interactions between Clovis groups can
also be observed to the north in Arizona. One end scraper found at El Bajío made of a red
chert appears to be identical to one found at Murray Springs. Further research should
focus in the study of the regional interactions between Sonora and Arizona Clovis groups.
In sum, the settlement patterns identified in Sonora appear to indicate that Clovis
groups were generalized hunter and gatherers that exploited a wide range of
environments, and that their diet was based upon a wide variety of foodstuffs. The Clovis
groups of Sonora developed a sophisticated settlement pattern and land use determined by
the location of lithic sources for tool making, water sources, large prey animals and a
mosaic of edible plants and small animals. Exploiting an extensive territory probably
permitted them to remain in the same region for longer periods of time with sufficient
caloric returns. Unfortunately, until today we only have one radiocarbon date (11,050 +/580) from the Clovis occupation of Sonora, obtained from Fin del Mundo.
In Sonora, the majority of the Clovis sites contain Archaic components,
suggesting that the Archaic land use overlapped the Clovis occupation. El Gramal site is
the only Clovis site that probably contains a later Paleo-Indian occupation, represented by
diagnostic points (Dalton and Plainview like points) (Gaines et al 2009). The presence of
only few late Paleo-Indian diagnostic points could represent the decrease of population
density in Sonora, but most likely it is an indication that after Clovis a regionalization of
the hunter and gather groups took place in Sonora. An early Archaic subsistence appears
323
to have evolved soon after the Clovis occupation of the Sonoran Desert as previously
proposed by Cordell (1997) and Mabry (Mabry and Faught, 1998). At about 5,000 yrBP
the onset of the altithermal permitted a rise in the population density and promoted the
establishment of sedentary agriculture communities.
The Sonoran Lithic Industry in the Clovis World
Several types of sites have been associated with the Clovis occupation of North America.
Camp sites kill sites, caches, workshops, and quarries among others have been
documented. Different site types are associated with different tool assemblages. At El
Bajío, all the aspects of the Clovis lithic industry is represented due to the fact that is a
multi-activity site. Finished tools, discarded tools, unfinished artifacts and debitage are
present. Only three other Clovis sites, Adams , Gault and Pavo Real sites are comparable
with the El Bajío site.
The Adams site is a unique site representing a single Clovis occupation, without
later cultural complexes (Sanders 1990). The Gault site is a multicomponent site with an
extensive Clovis, later Paleo-Indian and Archaic occupations. Clovis workshops, camp
areas and quarries activities are present at the site (Collins 1999a, 1999b). The Pavo Real
site is an encampment where tool making was carried out with a lithic raw material
procurement source (Collins 2003). The technological method utilized to produce blades,
bifaces and unifacial tools is very similar between El Bajío and these sites. Blades were
obtained from wedge-shaped cores and conical cores, the blades are long, some are
curved and triangular in cross section. Many blades were transformed into end scrapers
324
and side scrapers. End scrapers are very uniform between Clovis sites. The bifacial
technological process to manufacture Clovis points varies between sites. The use of fine
grain rocks is prevalent. In Sonora, many Clovis points are made of basalt, rhyolite and
quartzite; the use of local materials to manufacture tool indicates that Clovis groups
remain longer in the region. Only two finished Clovis points are part of the El Bajío
collection and it will be difficult to compare them with points from the San Pedro River
Valley. Clovis performs at Adams, Gault and El Bajío, show that the technological
process for making Clovis points is very similar between sites. Discarded Clovis
performs at El Bajío and Adams sites show that fluting was done very early in the
process. The technological consistencies and the similarities between the lithic
assemblages among sites in different regions, appear to indicate that the craftsmen shared
a single lithic tradition.
Clovis Interaction and Integration between the Regions
Current investigations in Sonora permit us to reconstruct tentative Clovis settlement
patterns. Clovis groups utilized an extensive territory (25,000 km2) in and around the
Llanos de Hermosillo. Here a variety of site types are present. Lithic procurement sites,
encampments, lithic workshops, megafauna hunting sites, and an extensive distribution of
isolated Clovis projectile points. Clovis caches are very common in the United States and
more than one hundred have been reported, however, there are no Clovis cache sites in
Sonora and they do not appear to be an important part of the settlement pattern. Although,
the largest and more important Clovis sites in Sonora are located at the Llanos de
325
Hermosillo landscape, Clovis points have been also found between Caborca and
Trincheras, the Río San Pedro and the Río Sonora. In both Arizona and Sonora Clovis
sites and isolated points are restricted to the Sonoran Desert physiographic province.
The Clovis archaeological record of Arizona is represented by 150 isolated Clovis
points, two small sites containing a handful of artifacts, and a series of sites (Naco,
Lehner, Murray Springs, Scapule and Navarrete), distributed in a very compact are of 31
linear kilometers in the San Pedro River Valley of southern Arizona. The San Pedro sites
depicted punctual events of very short duration related to megafauna hunting activity
(Haynes and Huckell 2007). The Clovis occupation of New Mexico is represented by
350 isolated Clovis projectile points and two important sites. The Black Water Draw site
contains a Clovis and later Folsom occupation, at least two bison kill localities and two
encampments could be associated with the Clovis occupation. The Mockingbird Gap site
contains a camp area.
The Murray Springs could be compared to the Fin del Mundo, in both sites a
hunting event is presented with an associated camp area. However, Murray Springs
represents only one event and Fin del Mundo was visited several times. The exploitation
of the local quartz crystal source appears to indicate that Clovis groups had an extensive
knowledge of the region as a result of their constant utilization. The geoarchaeological
investigations on the Mexican side of the Río San Pedro (Gaines 2005) were unsuccessful
in producing an archaeological record similar to that in Arizona. This study produced a
haft dozen isolated projectile points in private collections and one small site composed by
one Clovis point and 2 artifacts. Apparently the Mexican side of the San Pedro River
326
experience periods of deposition and erosion that destroyed the late Pleistocene
depositional history (Gaines 2005). The lack of archaeological record in the Río San
Pedro in Sonora limits the direct comparison between Arizona and Sonora.
The Clovis occupation of Sonora can be distinguished from that of Arizona and
New Mexico, due to the presence of a large quarry site. Lithic raw material procurement
is of fundamental importance within a given territory. The El Bajío quarry functioned as a
communal locality for the regional group that was visited and utilized several times a
year. Annual residential mobility probably was planned taking into account the El Bajio
lithic source, together with the localities with permanent water. The Gomphothers found
at Fin del Mundo are puzzling, they have never been found at any other site in North
America. It is very probable that Clovis groups in Sonora encountered fauna and flora
that they had never seen before, along with a better climate. These conditions likely
prompted them to inhabit Sonora. The Sonoran Clovis occupation is a testimony that
multiple regional Clovis adaptations emerged each with specific responses of plants,
animals and resources.
327
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