Over the past 25 years, a number of archaeological sites in eastern North America have manifested evidence of human occupations dating earlier than 11,500 RCYBP. These sites include Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Penn.; Cactus Hill, Va.; Saltville-2, Va.; and Topper, S.C. Except for Topper, pre-Clovis (earlier than 11,500 RCYBP) remains were encountered incidental to conducting normal research. Topper was intentionally tested for the possibility of pre-Clovis remains. This paper is a brief review of the geological contexts, dating, and artifactual evidence of these sites. Collectively, they indicate a late-glacial time range of approximately 12,000 to 16,000 RCYBP. Technologically, Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Cactus Hill are the most similar, with evidence of bifacial points, unifaces, and prismatic blades. Although probable bone and ivory artifacts are present, lithics at Saltville- 2 are expedient and minimal, making comparisons difficult. Topper, which is a chert quarry, is distinctive in that it has no evidence of bifaces and is dominated by small flake tools with an emphasis on burin-like tools. More geoarchaeological fieldwork is needed to target landforms that possess sediments deposited from 18,000 to 12,000 RCYBP. The Southeast may be a good place to prospect for these sites, given its milder climate during late-glacial times. The purpose of this paper is to present briefly archaeological evidence of human occupation of the eastern United States prior to 11,500 RCYBP, the conventional pre-Clovis temporal boundary. Four sites are reviewed for their artifacts, geological contexts, and dating. While questions, reservations, and rejections exist within the profession concerning some or all of these sites, nevertheless it Evidence for Pre-Clovis Sites in the Eastern United States is believed that they sufficiently meet these criteria and thus constitute evidence.
Published in Paleoamerican Origins: Beyond Clovis, 2005, pages 103-112.
© 2005 by Center for the Study of the First Americans