March 10, 2015

Sort of missed this. . . .

Filed under: Pre-Clovis — acagle @ 7:09 pm

Archaeologists: Are these the oldest tools in North America?

Stone tools discovered by archaeologists at the Rimrock Draw Rockshelter in Oregon suggest that the site could be the oldest known site of human occupation in western North America, the US Bureau of Land Management announced on Thursday.

The rockshelter, which is controlled by the Bureau, is located near the community of Riley in the high desert region of eastern Oregon, and the tool – a hand-held scraper chipped from a piece of orange agate not ordinarily found in the region – was discovered buried underneath an eight-inch layer of volcanic ash from an eruption of Mount St. Helens over 15,000 years ago.

The article is a tad misleading as they show a photo of a Clovis point when that actually wasn’t what was found. The dating seems secure though, which makes it technically pre-Clovis.

UPDATE: Photo of the thing here.

UPDATE II: Didn’t notice this in the second one since I just linked for the photo:

O’Grady called the find “tantalizing,” while Professor Donald Grayson said the scientific community would be disbelieving.

Commenting on the dig, Grayson said, “No one is going to believe this until it is shown there was no break in that ash layer, that the artifact could not have worked its way down from higher up, and until it is published in a convincing way.”

Grayson was a prof of mine and was on my dissertation committee. He was all over the pre-Clovis even in the 1980s. His criteria (which may actually be someone else’s) for demonstrating a good pre-Clovis site were, IIRC, undoubtedly manufactured, securely dated; adequate context, and published.


  1. Would have been an interesting time to be alive. There were the Missoula Floods, an active Mt ST Helens, and the introduction of Clovis +/- a couple thousand years of the tool’s age.

    Comment by wodun — March 11, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

  2. Any idea what tradition it is?

    Comment by Richard Aubrey — March 14, 2015 @ 4:18 pm

  3. Beats me. Until they demonstrate the context and dating well enough, it’ll just lump it in with “possible pre-Clovis”. I’m not much of an expert on that material though.

    Comment by acagle — March 15, 2015 @ 7:29 pm

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