The Clovis culture is an ancient Native American society which, according to archeological documentation of North America, initially emerged about 13,000 years ago, during the last part of ice age (kennely, 2005). The culture’s name originated from works of arts found around Clovis in New Mexico where the initial clues were found in 1932.
Most studies have failed to establish the origin and the reason for disappearance of this culture. Most of existing analyses are based only on the assumptions, although there are some discoveries of their remains in some regions of North America and Mexico. Some archeologists believe that their disappearances were brought about by over-hunting of huge animals like mammoths.
There are still debates if the pre-Clovis people and culture really existed, and some consider that if they lived, then they were poorly organized since there are no enough discoveries of their tools found during excavations in Northern America or Asia. Most of the information in this paper was found in books and studies which are available at the internet. This paper will dwell on the pre-Clovis people, their culture, origin, settlement, lifestyles and finally their disappearance.
The first evidence, the mammoth bones with a spear-point stuck in the rips, was found in Folsom, New Mexico, in 1926 and since then, various related sites have been found all over the North America as well as Central America and Mexico (Deloria, 2010).
Paleo-Indians is another name used to describe the Clovis people who are commonly considered as the first people to reside in North America. Moreover, they are believed to be ancestors of the natives living in South and North America (McManamon & Cordell, 2009, p. 215). Nevertheless, this consideration has been lately opposed by several archeological results which argued that they are much older.
Another contentious issue there concerns what place should be regarded as a place of origin of the Clovis people in North America and Mexico. However, the greatest evidence proposes that this community of hunters and gatherers, identified as the Clovis people, initially lived in Southwest sometime earlier than 9,000 B.C. The Clovis people were named after Clovis town in New Mexico, a place where the initial discovery of the evidence of life of these people was made in 1932 (Deloria, 2010).
Origin and Settlements
The Clovis people came and settled in wide areas of North America; and nowadays, there are various studies, questions, and debates which concern the uncertain period they existed and their influence on the cultures of Northern America and Mexico.
Studies have speculated that the Clovis people settled in North America around 11,500 – 10,800 years ago (Kennely, 2005). Some theories state that the Clovis ancestors migrated to the Southern part of Alaska to continue hunting the mammoths and other huge wild animals. However, archeologists have not discovered the Clovis sites found in the regions of Alaska or Canada.
Similarly, there are no existence proofs of the Clovis anywhere in both Canada and Alaska; similarly, there are no evident scientific antecedents in regions of Asia, which are close to America. Therefore, the studies are still carried out to establish the regions from where the Clovis people originated and the place where they learned to make crafted and fluted spear points.
Various studies have made assumptions that the antecedents of the Clovis culture perfected their typical tool gears and fluting methods while migrating through the well-known “ice-free corridor” to Great Plains of North America from Alaska (Nelson, 2009, p. 67).
Some other studies have proposed that the antecedents of the Clovis people settled in southern part of North America because there are some clues of humans’ settlements which may have been found there 11,600 years ago. It could be the remains of the first time Clovis people emerge in North America and settle in the regions, such as Pedra Furada in Brazil and also Monte Verde in southern Chile (Kennely, 2005).
However, there are some studies which propose that the possible forefathers of the Clovis culture could inhabit some regions in Europe, particularly in France and Iberian Peninsula, where they are known as Solutrean culture. The ancient people mostly found in some parts of France and Iberian Peninsula have many common characteristics with the Clovis people who are found in North America and Mexico.
Some archeologists have stated that both the Clovis and the Solutreans people make use of mammoth’s ivory through using them to design their tools with the help of the special stone scrapers.
And as autonomous innovation could make up these resemblances, the earliest Clovis implements have not been found in the Great Plains of Northern America, or in the southern parts of the United States where Clovis tools should be found since the archeologists believed that the Clovis people settled in Siberia and later dispersed all over the America.
However, they are discovered in the southeastern and eastern areas of the United States. It is likely that Ice Age Europeans might have moved into the areas of America using boats.
Since the first discovery, the accepted hypothesis among archeologists has been that the Clovis people were the initial settlers of North and South America. The key support for this hypothesis was that no clear proof of pre-Clovis settlements has been discovered.
In line with the accepted theory, the Clovis people had passed through Beringia land from Siberia to Alaska in the period when there were reduced sea levels during the ice age, then they made their way to the southern part through places where there were no ice in the eastern parts of the Rocky Mountains of modern western Canada after the glaciers had withdrawn (Uhl, 2003, p.67).
The Clovis culture existed around 11,000 – 10,800 years ago, and the representatives of the Clovis culture were victorious and well-organized wild animals’ hunters and scavengers. From the analysis of sites where they are believed to have stayed, such as the North American Great Plains, it can be concluded that the people of these societies were skilled and experienced hunters of big wild animals.
Clovis tool gears were very valuable, not heavy, and transferable as the people had to move from one area to another and needed their stuffs to be mobile. Their stone equipment was made from valuable and fine-grained rock which hailed from extensively estranged outcrops, the one which was used for several years by people soon after. The most well-known, renowned, and unique elements of their tool gears were their fluted projectile points (Uhl, 2003, p.67).
A famous characteristic of the Clovis society is their uniquely-shaped fluted rock spear point which is called the Clovis point. It is designed to use both sides, and this is a characteristic which is likely to let the point to be integrated into a spear in a certain way in order the point to come off on impact. Archeologists are not in agreement that the extensive existence of these works of arts proves the propagation of some people, or the acceptance of an advanced technology by people who are not Clovis.
The length of the Clovis points is around two to six inches and is somewhat weighty and fluted, and the fluting hardly goes beyond half the length of the tool (McManamon & Cordell, 2009, p. 215). Various eastern types of the Clovis points are named Suwannee, Cumberland, or Ohio after the place where they were created; their main distinctive feature is that they are rather fish tailed and narrower as well.
Precisely, the way such points were hafted is unrevealed; however, the Clovis people possessed some types of these tools fixed in wooden which were loose from the spear shaft when the top was covered in its quarry. The Clovis men became skilled huntsmen of huge animals because hunting was their common activity all over the Great Plains in some parts of Northern America and Mexico.
Other things which were linked with the Clovis people are some implements, such as projectile points which were not fluted, hammer stones, and bone tools. In addition to projectile points, they also had bifacial trimmed points and some joinery and slaughtering relics with flakes employed just as finely honed handy implements in their struck-off shape.
The Pre-Clovis People
If the pre-Clovis culture really existed, it is likely that its people were not so well organized like the Clovis people. Since they are related to the Clovis people, it is considered that they might have been also hunters and gatherers. Most studies speculate that the period of the pre-Clovis people’s existence is around 15,000 to 50,000 years ago (Roberts, 2004, p. 24).
This shows that the pre-Clovis people might have moved from Asia to some regions in North America during the period of the ice age. However, archeologists have no sufficient evidences regarding these mysterious nation and they still discuss if there were actually the pre-Clovis people and culture. Some consider that the radiocarbon dating, a method employed to actually state the age of soil and other relics, was infected by water. The other archeologists insist that the pre-Clovis people really existed though none has been found.
The Clovis Life Styles
Most people believe that the Clovis people hunted huge wild animals like mammoth since there is an evidence of mammoth remains found at the excavations of the Clovis sites. Moreover, there are drawings of these huge animals depicting the Clovis people hunting them. However, this issue still remains open and contentious, taking into account that archeology is entirely a hypothetical undertaking.
Just one animal could provide the tribe with the food for several weeks, and sometimes they dried meat from these animals to store food for winter. As a rule, the Clovis people did not consume all the meat they slaughtered. A huge carcass of bison was used as well to ensure that a minimal possible amount of remains was wasted.
Probably, some of the parts of these animals were used to make households tools, decorations items, materials for shelter, and even clothes. This shows that not only the mammoth’s meat was used as food but also other inedible parts were used as materials to make other items which were necessary for the people.
The Clovis people had a special lifestyle and were mainly skilled huntsmen of megafauna as they primarily employed a well-thought and greatly mobile hunting tactics.
It is worth noting that the climate was dry, so the Clovis people engaged in big game hunting to provide food for their families, thus they used special strategies to ensure the success of the hunting. In such a way, they coped with the environmental conditions. However, when the number of mammoths reduced immensely, the Clovis people began to hunt horses and elephants.
Most of those ancient people as well practiced botany, so they became experienced in the use of plants for tolls and foodstuffs (Magoc, 2011, p. 255). They were also geologists with an intense capacity to look for the necessary places to mine for the New World flint for delicately crafted points and implements.
About 10,600 years ago, the Clovis people suddenly disappeared. This is mostly proved by the fact that there have been found no evidences of the further existence of this culture and development of their settlements. The main reason for the disappearance of Clovis is still unclear, and most studies consider that it was connected with the mass extermination of the wild animals of the Ice Age.
This brings about an assumption that the Clovis society, the main activity of which was hunting of these huge animals, led them to the verge of extinction, especially the mammoths, and this caused disintegration of environment and the local flora.
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kennely, P. (2005). Clovis People History. Central States archeological journal , 52: 24-45.
Magoc, C. (2011). Chronology of Americans and the Environment. California: ABC-CLIO.
McManamon, F., & Cordell, L. (2009). Archeology in America: Northeast and Southeast. California, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Nelson, J. (2009). Quetico: near to nature’s heart. London: Dundurn Press Ltd.
Roberts, C. (2004). A History of New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM: UNM Press.
Uhl, C. (2003). Developing ecological consciousness: path to a sustainable world. Lacaster: Rowman & Littlefield.