Clovis Blade Technology at the Topper Site (38AL23): Assessing Lithic Attribute Variation and Regional Patterns of Technological Organization
Douglas A. Sain
This monograph, by Douglas A. Sain, is based on his master’s thesis research on the organization of Clovis blade technology. This second monograph of the Occasional Papers series of the Southeastern Paleoamerican Survey closely follows the first in terms of the meticulousness of the study, and the new information it provides about the Topper Site. Detailed studies of Clovis material are eagerly sought by Paleoindian archaeologists, enthusiasts, and particularly by lithic analysts. Sain provides a well-rounded literature review for these groups, and an innovative approach to identifying technological blades. The “mixed assemblage” problem resulting when multiple lithic technologies were used at a single site is one with which lithic analysts continue to struggle. With a quarry site such as Topper and the wide variety of core forms and tools recovered, a nuanced and consistent approach to blade identification is a necessity if one wants to consider broader questions of technological organization. Recognizing variability in the end-product of blade manufacture and the relative importance of some characteristics over others, Sain weights six attributes from three to one and through detailed study of individual detached pieces produces a score. With a maximum value of 12, those with a score of seven or higher are considered a blade. This provides a consistent, replicable procedure for separating blades from blade-like flakes, and using these data in the consideration of Clovis lifeways. The small percentage of blades at Topper with modification, when coupled with a consideration of assemblages in the local and broader region, provide evidence that blades were part of a curated technology and toolkit, a transportable and reliable product that could be maintained as people moved across the landscape. This work provides a specific reconstruction of Clovis technological organization in the Savannah River Valley, and should inspire broader considerations of blade technology elsewhere in the Americas.
Keywords: Clovis, Topper, Lithic, Settlements, Blades, Paleoindian, South Carolina
Clovis Excavations at Topper 2005-2007: Examining Site Formation Processes at an Upland Paleoindian Site along the Middle Savannah River
D. Shane Miller
With this inaugural issue of the Occasional Papers series of the Southeastern Paleoamerican Survey, we are pleased to offer this monograph by D. Shane Miller which was based on his masters thesis research at the Topper site. His excavations, conducted over 2006-2007, resulted in a 64m square block, the largest contiguous unit yet excavated at Topper. Situated in a previously plowed firebreak on the southern hillside exhibiting partial erosion, it was decided to take advantage of this situation and recover the basal Clovis remains in the undisturbed portion of the profile. This strategy worked well and allowed Miller to fairly quickly access a large, relatively well preserved portion of the Clovis deposit as found in the lower firebreak. Miller presents the first thorough analysis of the Clovis occupation of what has been called the Hillside at Topper, reconstructing the geoarchaeological matrix so necessary for contextualizing these important 13,000 year old artifacts. In the course of his study, he does yeoman service by systematically analyzing the assemblage and stratigraphy by considering a variety of relevant agencies that might have formed or even deformed the original deposit. He provides a compelling reconstruction of the natural and cultural formation processes and concludes that the Clovis deposit as it is found on the hill slope is reasonably intact and interpretable and well suited for archaeological inferences.
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