Pre-Clovis Sites

Pre-Clovis Sites - First Colonists of the Americas

The Pre-Clovis culture, also spelled Preclovis and sometimes PreClovis, is the name given by archaeologists to the people who colonized the American continents before the Clovis big-game hunters. The existence of Pre-Clovis sites has been widely discounted up until the past fifteen years or so, although evidence has slowly been growing and most of the archaeological community support these and other such dated sites.

Ayer Pond (Washington, USA)

Ayer Pond is a Pre-Clovis site in the United States near the south end of Vancouver Island. At this site, workmen excavated a buffalo, butchered by Pre-Clovis people about 11,900 radiocarbon years ago.
Cactus Hill is an important Clovis period site located on the Nottaway River of Virginia, with a possible pre-Clovis site below it, dated to between 18,000 and 22,000 years ago. The PreClovis site is redeposited, apparently, and the stone tools are somewhat problematic. More »
Artifacts from the Pre-Clovis Occupation at Debra L. Friedkin Site
Artifacts from the Pre-Clovis Occupation at Debra L. Friedkin Site. courtesy Michael R. Waters
The Debra Ll. Friedkin site is a redeposited site, located on a fluvial terrace close to the famous Clovis and pre-Clovis Gault site. The site includes occupation debris beginning in the Pre-Clovis period of some 14-16,000 years ago through the Archaic period of 7600 years ago. More »
12,000 Year Old Textiles from Guitarerro Cave in Peru
Both sides of a fragment of a woven mat or basket container from Guitarrero Cave. Black grimy residue and wear from use is visible. © Edward A. Jolie and Phil R. Geib
Guitarrero Cave is a rockshelter in the Ancash region of Peru, where human occupations date to approximately 12,100 years ago. Fortuitous preservation has allowed researchers to collect textiles from the cave, dated to the Pre-Clovis component. More »

Manis Mastodon (Washington State, USA)

3-D Reconstruction of the Bone Point in Manis Mastodon Rib
3-D Reconstruction of the Bone Point in Manis Mastodon Rib. Image courtesy of Center for the Study of the First Americans, Texas A&M University

The Manis Mastodon site is a site in Washington State on the Pacific Coast of North America. There, some 13,800 years ago, Pre-Clovis hunter-gatherers killed an extinct elephant and, presumably, had bits of it for dinner.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter (Pennsylvania, USA)

Entrance to Meadowcroft Rockshelter
Entrance to Meadowcroft Rockshelter. Lee Paxton
If Monte Verde was the first site seriously considered as Pre-Clovis, than Meadowcroft Rockshelter is the site which should have been seriously considered. Discovered on a tributary stream of the Ohio River in Pennsylvania, Meadowcroft dates to at least 14,500 years ago and shows a technology which is decidedly different from traditional Clovis.
Tent Foundation, Monte Verde II
View of the excavated log foundation of a long residential tent-like structure at Monte Verde II where seaweeds were recovered from hearths, pits and a floor. Image courtesy of Tom D. Dillehay
Monte Verde is arguably the first Pre-Clovis site to be taken seriously by the majority of the archaeological community. The archaeological evidence shows a small group of huts were built on the shoreline in far southern Chile, about 15,000 years ago. This is a photo essay of the archaeological investigations. More »
Students at Paisley Caves (Oregon)
Students overlooking the spot where the 14,000 year old coprolites with human DNA were found in Cave 5, Paisley Caves (Oregon). Northern Great Basin Prehistory Project at the Paisley Caves

Paisley is the name of a handful of caves within the interior of the American state of Oregon in the Pacific northwest. Fieldschool investigations at this site in 2007 identified a rock-lined hearth, human coprolites and a midden dated to between 12,750 and 14,290 calendar years before the present. More »

Pedra Furada (Brazil)

Pedra Furada is a rockshelter in northeastern Brazil, where quartz flakes and possible hearths have been identified dated to between 48,000 and 14,300 years ago. The site is still somewhat controversial, although the later occupations, dated after 10,000 are accepted.
Tlapacoya is a multicomponent site located in the basin of Mexico, and it includes an important Olmec component site. Tlapacoya's Pre-Clovis site returned radiocarbon dates between 21,000 and 24,000 years ago. More »

The Topper site is in the Savannah River floodplain of the Atlantic coast of South Carolina. The site is multicomponent, meaning that human occupations later than Pre-Clovis have been identified, but the two Pre-Clovis component date to 15,000 and 50,000 years ago. The 50,000 is still fairly controversial. More »

Excavating at Xaasaa Na’ in August 2010
Excavating at Xaasaa Na’ in August 2010. Image courtesy of Ben A. Potter
The Upward Sun River Mouth Site has four archaeological occupations, the oldest of which is a Pre-Clovis site with a hearth and animal bones dated to 11,250-11,420 RCYBP. More »