Tuesday, May 22, 2012

FFTD Bonus: Clovis Points and the Martens Site 5-22-12

Clovis spear point in the hand of Richard Martens. 

While I was taking a course on Faulkner's novel, The Sound and the Fury, at Washington University's Life Long Learning Institute I asked my friend Richard Martens what he did in his "spare" time. It turns out that he is an amateur archeologist who has discovered and participated in excavations in St Louis County.

In 1968 Richard found artifacts on a  hill east of Olive Boulevard near Faust Park in west St Louis County. The hill, which was the highest surrounding point (670 feet above sea level), was on the bluffs of the Missouri River and the find resulted in an archeological exploration of the "Martens site" in 1997. This allowed for the location of a relatively
intact Clovis habitation site with subsequent recovery of over 38 Clovis tools. Study of the tools linked them to plant materials (soft  or woody)and bone, antler, and ivory. Site activities  were oriented not only to huntingbut also to agrarian manipulation of woody and other plant products.

Clovis is the name archeologists have given to the earliest (maybe not the first) well established human culture in North America. The Clovis people were the first big game hunters of the Palleoindian tradition. Their sites are dated from 11,00 to 10,800 RCYBP (Radio Carbon Years Before the Present). Thisconverts to 12,500 to 12,900 years before the present. As big game hunters they used spears mounted with Clovis points made from chert. Chert is a silica 
based rock that occurs in large beds or as flint nodules. Clovis points have been found in various areas in North America but not often in St. Louis County.

Martens and others have published extensively. For example:
Martens,RE, et. al. 2004 The Surface Collection from the Martens Site (23SL222) The Missouri Archeologist 65:1-43

Sometimes innocent questions bear amazing fruit.


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