Clovis Mobility at the Gault Site: A Chert Provenance Study Using Laser Ablation - Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)




Speer, Charles Andrew

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The long standing view of the 13,000 year old Clovis culture is one of highly mobile Paleoindian hunters who moved from kill to kill, specializing in hunting mammoth and other large mammals. Mounting evidence suggests a wide array of behavior was practiced amongst the Clovis period hunter-gatherers who were dispersed across the New World in a diverse host of environments. This project focuses on determining the source of the flint or chert used to make Clovis projectile points at one of the largest and complex Clovis sites in North America, the Gault Site, in order to better understand the mobility practices of Clovis hunter-gatherers. Clovis mobility was thought to cover long distances but the provenance of these projectile points suggests limited distance mobility of less than 30 kilometers punctuated by occasional long distance forays. This project develops a highly effective and reliable methodology for determining both intra- and inter-source variation.

This dissertation suggests that the Clovis cultural complex was widespread across the New World but the behavior elicited by Clovis period hunter-gatherers was varied and not uniform. The Gault Site artifacts demonstrate that cultural diffusion may have allowed technological aspects of Clovis culture to spread rapidly across the New World, rather than long distance movement in search of game. The visual aspects of chert are similar across a wide region of Texas. A geochemical technique called Laser Ablation - Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is used to determine accurate provenance. This technique is employed to determine the geochemistry of chert used in the manufacture of the Gault Site projectile points and compares them with geologic samples from several locations across the Edwards Plateau. This research analyzes artifacts from an important Clovis site to understand mobility practices by evaluating subjective postulates concerning mobility with objective data.


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chert, Clovis, Edwards Plateau, Gault, LA-ICP-MS, Paleoindian