The southeastern United States has long been of interest to students of the North American Paleoindian period because of the abundant and diverse lithic remains found there. Several thousand fluted and unfluted lanceolate points have been found throughout the southern states. Despite the high archaeological potential of this region, few concentrations of Paleoindian artifacts have been found that would lend themselves to archaeological excavation. Most Paleoindian points have been found on the surface, often as isolated finds. Geological conditions during the late Pleistocene-early Holocene did not produce deeply buried sites over much of the Southeast, particularly on the intertluvial surfaces. The bulk of knowledge for the Paleoindian occupation of the South comes in the form of typologies and geographic distributional studies. However, until sites are excavated that possess sufficient stratigraphic depth and/or integrity to allow chronological and paleoenvironmental studies, it will be difficult to interpret these remains in terms of cultural systems. Fieldwork needs to be concentrated on identifying late Pleistocene-early Holocene depositional environments in order to obtain badly needed archaeological contexts. Toward that end, this chapter reviews in detail the geoarchaeological situations of a variety of sites throughout the Southeast in the hope of discerning patterns that might yield criteria for recognizing early Holocene deposits.
Published in Ice Age Peoples of North America: Environments, Origins, and Adaptations, ed. Robson Bonnichsen and Karen L. Turnmire, 1999, pages 432-481.
© 1999 by Center for the Study of the First Americans