Discovery of Meadowcroft Rockshelter

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Meadowcroft Rockshelter is an American historical archaeological site. The site was originally found by a individual called Albert Miller returned in the year 1955 and it is a rock on the hillside phase of Avella in Pennsylvania. It is a masterpiece show of the American native starting place revealing the history of the American life. In the 12 months 1973, much used to be discovered when James M. Adovasia who used to be the first Archaeologist dug deep into the site solely to discover that it contained sizable content representing the oldest American history. It is so magnificent because of how it has won fame in contests and additionally used widely in publications. The web site is believed to have been occupied 19000 years Before Present through the historical evidence to support that is so limited.

Another finding indicated that it was otherwise occupied for an estimated period of 2000 years before the first emergence of Clovis points in the Northern America. This, however, has been subject to more discussion due to the early findings which show that the presence of small particles of the coal matter may have contaminated the samples revealing the actual dates. Moreover, some archaeologists argue that the water in the underground may have dissolved the carbon matter and forming a solution which makes the specimen to appear older than their real ages. Furthermore, a thorough research was made to find out if the occupants indulged in any activity associated with groundwater and the result was null. This, therefore, ruled out the argument and the confirmation of the early dates were made. Meadowcroft Rockshelter clearly reveals the systematic sequence in which the ancient people occupied the site along with the evidence of their social and economic lives. The availability of numerous flakes of stones and other tools still made of stone, fossils, and artifacts, and also pits for fire reveals how the sites were occupied and what was going on at the time. The site also contains the allegedly oldest bone in the world which is in the form of a base of a deer antler which is burnt and appeared to have undergone a heavy cut. The latest Clovis sites do not consist of the small blades which are acquired from a core that has taken time to be prepared. However, there is the availability of projectile points, bifaces, prismatic blades of small size, and unifacial knives which are the artifacts found in the lowest level of the cultural layer. All these content and much more reveal that the site was occupied for the most lone period although the occupants were temporary and on the move. This is in connection with the historical events of people who migrated to America in the years of 1970s. Meadowcroft Rockshelter is an exceptionally earliest place where human inhabited across the history of Northern America. Nevertheless, it was confirmed to be the site which had been used continually for the longest period of time which lasted up to around the 18th century.

The group people which is believed to have occupied the Meadowcroft Rockshelter evidently possessed the Clovis culture. This is a culture which is known to describe events exclusively by the study of differently cut tools of stone. The culture was initially and originally Paleo-Indian is believed to have started existing in the years between the 1920s and 1930s, that is 11,000 to 11,500 years before present and it involves the unique tools of ivory and bones as well as the production of Clovis points. The Clovis culture is allegedly the first culture from which diverse cultural groups sprout. These groups are commonly referred by a general term which is Post-Clovis. They evidently have American native due to the scientific tests were done on the DNA component on the remains of a dead body found on the site. They include Gainey, Plainview-Goshen, Redstone, Folsom tradition, Suwannee-Simpson, and Cumberland. The evolution from pre-Clovis to Post-Clovis cultures is evident by the change in the shape of the projectile points of the tools. Apart from using tools as the sign of changing cultures, the change of climate over time, for example, post-placed, was used by archaeologists. The change of climate had more effect on the alteration of plant species. Therefore the people from Clovis are crowned to be the pioneers of cultural diversion all over the world because so far there is no any other discovery of ancient cultures.

However, hearths and remains of human beings claimed to have been discovered belonging to the people of Pedra Furaja in Brasil, are believed to exist before the Clovis culture but the evidence is few and still under research. A tool called the Clovis point was so common because a lot of similar tools were found at the site and it was two-facetted symbolizing the creativity of the ancient being with a sense of technology in it. Moreover, the locations of the tools were mainly close to places where discoveries of the remains of a mammoth. This triggered an assumption that the people used to mainly practice mammoth hunting. However, the diet of the Clovis people was diverse for it included came lops, horse, extinct bison, gomphotheres, mastodon, sloths, horses and many animals which were smaller. All these were evident by the remains found in the site indicating that that was what the Clovis people used as food. The total of all animal and plant species added up to 125 and above.

State of Art

The Clovis people had the sense of art evident by the artifacts found at the site which were perishable in nature. They included woods which were creatively modified, cordage, handmade baskets and animal bones which had also undergone modification and also clay. In addition to baskets, the art of basketry involved the creative production of different items such as mats and bags which were made in various designs. In the discoveries, the archaeologist managed to recover fragments of these artistic items. The specimens clearly revealed that the strips used by the people for plaiting were carefully selected by their equal sizes. To make the baskets, then the right size of the materials was cut, the soaked in water so as to increase flexibility for easy folding during intertwining.

The bones were normally modified into different shape according to the intended purpose of the tools. The animals from which the tools were obtained mostly included the deer with tails and bones of turkeys. The tools obtained from bones appeared having a single sharp edge with a foreshaft that was double pointing. Example of the modified tools were the awls which were used in pricking holes on the hides after hunting and also used for slaughtering of animals for food. Clay was used to making mostly ceramic items and that was made by exposing the clay to high-temperature fire after doing the molding. The fragments obtained the archaeologists revealed the shapes of the items and the type of soil used. This was historically crucial in understanding what the people preferred. Moreover, the Lindenmayer, Wilson-Leonard, Mockingbird Gap and Blackwater Draw are the historical sites where the artistic items like the beads and pendants made of stone, bones, hematite, shell, and calcium carbonate were discovered. The wood materials used were strong wood and were chopped and shaped into different containers used for different purposes. For example, the wooden tools were used as shafts for spears.

The Clovis people were discovered to have had technical knowledge and they were able to understand the evolution of times. The tools made were designed differently in relation to where they would be used. The various specific tools were made to different standards. For example, knives were of different shapes according to the use. The archaic period was characterized by the technology that was lithic. Therefore the socio-economic activities of these people were molding items artfully, hunting of animals for food and fishing. Fishing is evidenced by the presence of shells belong to mussels which were found at the shore of massive water bodies which had diminished with time. The Clovis people indulged in good social life indicated by the different manmade designs which were modified geometrically because these sites show that they used to carry out ceremonies for pleasure as well as traditionally.


The archaeologist furthermore discovered the presence of kill sites for single events and events which had occurred more than once, sites for cache, sites for camps and also isolated finds. The kill sites for single events included sharp tools which were believed to be used for killing animals with big bodies and which had taken place only once at the location. The other site indicated an event had occurred more than once whereby more than a single animal had been killed just at the same place. The sites for cache included many projectile tools disposed or gathered together in one ditch but the nature of hunting and the residence of the hunters were not evident.

The most common killing site evidence was whereby tools were found scattered in many separate locations in a field of hunting. This was probably because the hunters covered very large area looking for prey and maybe some were killed by the animals or some just forgot the tools in the fields. The Clovis culture came to an abrupt halt where new post-Clovis cultures emerged as people started preferring permanent settling for development purposes. Furthermore, the great climate change led to different animal and plant species to become extinct and their memory just remaining in their dead remains.


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Hockett, B., & Jenkins, D. L. (2013). Identifying stone tool cut marks and the pre-Clovis occupation of the Paisley Caves. American Antiquity, 78(4), 762-778.

Adovasio, J. M., and David R. Pedler. “Peopling of the Americas.” In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, pp. 5872-5880. Springer New York, 2014.

Scofield, David. “Meadowcroft: The Real Paleo Diet: What’s for Prehistoric Dinner?.” Western Pennsylvania History: 1918-2016 (2013).

Gibbons, Ann. “New sites bring the earliest Americans out of the shadows.” Science 344, no. 6184 (2014): 567-568.

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