FLUTED POINTS OF ARKANSAS
by Juliet E. Morrow, Ph.D.
Arkansas Archeological Survey, P.O. Box 820, State University, AR 72467
FIGURE 1. Fluted Points from Arkansas, left to right: Clovis from site 3CG48, Gainey from site 3LW13, Clovis from site 3CG124 (AAS Slide 68-ASU-30).
In between excavating Late Mississippian sites, a Late Archaic cemetery, a Mastodon, and many other smaller field projects, we are searching for buried stable surfaces that may contain evidence from the Early Paleoindian period (circa 11,600-10,900 B.P.). During the search I have encountered many wonderful people that have shared information about their artifact collections. When I come across any authentic Paleoindian artifact I document it via photography and/or ink illustration, as well as a standardized set of metric and morphological attributes (Morrow 1996). Information about the Early Paleoindian period is very rare, so it is extremely important that we document what we know exists before loss or damage occurs, this includes sites and artifacts. The purpose of this web page is to show some of the Early Paleoindian artifacts I have recorded over the last seven years as well as some of the Early Paleoindian artifacts that Dr. Dan Morse garnered for the Arkansas Archeological Survey (AAS) artifact collection. The Early Paleoindian period in Arkansas is very poorly known. It occurs between 11,500 radiocarbon years ago (that's over 13,000 calendar years ago) to 10,500 radiocarbon years ago. Back in the terminal ice age the carbon cycle was different than today and so radiocarbon ages must be calibrated against known time clocks like certain trees, coral reefs, and glaciers. Luckily for archeologists and others who like to time travel, corals and other sea critters and glaciers contain isotopes that scientists can measure and compare. Calibration of radiocarbon dates can yield more than one intercept and this makes interpretations of calendar dates problematic.
FIGURE 2. Fluted Points from Arkansas, left to right: Gainey/Sedgwick from 3PO81, Clovis preform from 3PO58, Clovis from 3PO53 (AAS Slide 68 ASU-27).
The two most common types of fluted points are called Clovis and Gainey. Gainey points are analogous to the Sedgwick type defined by Morse and Morse (1983). Clovis points occur earlier in the archeological record than Gainey/Sedgwick points. From here on out I will use the term Gainey to refer to fluted points that are comapratively thinner between the flutes, have a tendency toward midline pressure flaking of the blade, and exhibit deep basal concavities. The specific differences between the two point typesand their manufacturing sequences have been made clear in one publication available on my web page (Morrow and Morrow 2002a) and in Morrow and Morrow 2002b, available through the Plains Anthropological Society. There is a gradational change between Clovis and Gainey and Gainey and Folsom. The keystone to understanding the evolution of projectile point forms from Clovis to Folsom is to examine point attributes as indexes which control for size. Gainey is an intermediate "species" between Clovis and Folsom. Gainey points are quite common in the eastern North America, but are known to occur at least as far west as Oklahoma.
FIGURE 3. Biplot of ratios that control for size. Note the slight overlap between the Clovis and Gainey/Sedgwick populations with respect to the haft area.
This graph displays the results of a metric study of 40 fluted projectile points in the AAS-ASU collections at Jonesboro, plus an additional several points recorded by myself from private collections in Northeast Arkansas. ASU student T. Marshall measured the points according to criteria outlined in my dissertation (Morrow 1996). Only one fluted point in this study was definitely not from Arkansas and that was an obsidian fluted point from New Mexico in the Rick Stevens collection which I recorded in September 1999. Dr. Dwight Boggs loaned us two fluted points from his collection and these fall into the Clovis category based on their metric attributes. As long as fluted points are not too resharpened or reworked, you can separate the Gainey and Clovis types most of the time by using an index created by dividing the depth of the basal concavity (measured from a line drawn perpendicular to the long axis of the point and grazing the basal ears to a point in the center of the basal concavity) by the width of the base and plotting that against an index created by dividing the maximum thickness between the two flutes by the maximum width of the total point (usually the maximum width is at the haft or slightly higher depending on the amount of resharpening a point has undergone). Clovis and Gainey appear to overlap temporally (based on radiocarbon dates and geology) and spatially (based on the known distribution of point types). During the 1,000 to 1500 year length of the Early Paleoindian period, certain metric and morphological changes may have occurred at different rates in different geographic regions. This is why it is important to take a continuum approach to point types. Most points don’t all fall neatly into a “classic” type. There are many sources of variation, however, the least important of which is stone material (see below).
FIGURE 4. Fluted points of Arkansas, left to right: Clovis:3CG52, Gainey/Sedgwick, 3GE30. (AAS Slide 68-ASU-28).
The geographic distribution of Folsom and Gainey points overlap, suggesting that they are, at least partially, contemporary (see Morrow and Morrow 2002). Aside from the morphological and metric differences between Clovis and Gainey points, there are raw material differences. Clovis groups may have "leap-frogged" across the continent, not necessarily exploring every nook and cranny where good chert sources were located. David Anderson has researched this possibility using GIS analysis. When Early Paleoindians encountered a place rich in all of the necessary resources (game animals, springs and other permanent water sources, primary or secondary deposits of siliceous stone for making tools), they would have had no reason to leave in a hurry so they probably stayed around and as a result became very familiar with their territory and the available resources in it. Early Paleoindians were excellent geologists and their preference for high quality, silica rich rocks likely led to their exploration of mountainous and dissected terraines, as well as gravel deposits in river and stream valleys. Places rich in the above-mentioned resources include some of the river basins, e.g., Shields in Montana, the Snake River in Idaho, the Big Horn basin in Wyoming, the Columbia River Basin in Washington, the Missouri River and Illinois Rivers near their confluences with the Mississippi, the Central Mississippi Valley between the Ohio River and the Arkansas Rivers (analogous to the Mississippi embayment and including parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi), as well as the karstic areas of Iowa, Texas, Southern Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida.
FIGURE 5. Quartz Crystal Clovis Point from Blakely Dam, Hot Springs, Arkansas.
A total of forty fluted points in the AAS collection is included in this chart. The stone sources are all potentially in Arkansas, although some cherts and rhyolites are available in Missouri as well. Crowley's Ridge Formation is a secondary deposit that contains cobbles of many different types of chert, quartzite and other rock types from northern locations, including chert from the Burlington Formation. It many cases, it is not possible to determine the source of Burlington chert i.e., St. Louis, central Missouri, SE Iowa, west-central Illinois). Fluted points made of quartz crystal have been documented in many of the mid-Atlantic states including New Jersey and Virginia, as well as from the Lehner mammoth kill site in the San Pedro River Valley, and the Simon Clovis cache. Only one has ever been found in Arkansas (Figure 5).
FIGURE 6. Chart showing the frequency of fluted point types made of various macroscopically identified stone materials.
Early Paleoindians were such excellent knappers that they actually made fluted points from silicified sediment and other very coarse-grained materials. They obviously adapted their techniques to the particular qualities of the material they used. Additionally, among the 1000’s of artifacts and fluted points I have recorded, I have never once observed an obviously heat-treated fluted point. The cherts that Paleoindians typically selected do not seem to require heat to improve their flaking qualities. The total sample of fluted points in Figure 6. includes 24 Clovis and 16 Gainey. One of the Clovis points is a preform. The majority of points are from northeast Arkansas, several are from Phillips County in southeast Arkansas. Although the sample is not large enough to be representative, it is interesting that there are only two chert types that the Clovis and Gainey point makers had in common, Burlington (from Crowley's Ridge or elsewhere in the Burlington outcrop area) and Crowley's Ridge. A larger sample may show a different pattern and that is why it is important to continue documenting archeological fluted points in Arkansas and elsewhere.
FIGURE 7. Two fragmentary fluted points found in 2001 by Forest Service archeologist R. Coleman in western Arkansas.
Left: 3MN496, Right: 3SC1901.
Approximately a dozen fluted points, including the quartz crystal Clovis point in Figure 5., have been documented in Arkansas since this study was completed. In the future, I will update the database and my webpage by including new data on Arkansas Fluted Points.
Many thanks go to the collectors of fluted points across the state of Arkansas for sharing their collections with the Arkansas Archeological Survey.
Morrow, Juliet E.
1996 The Organization of Early Paleoindian Lithic Technology in the Confluence Region of the Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Washington University, St. Louis. University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Morrow, Juliet E., and Toby A.
2002a Exploring the Clovis-Gainey-Folsom Contiuum: Technological Variation in Midwestern Fluted Points. In Folsom Technology and Lifeways, edited by Michael B. Collins and John E. Clark, pp. 141-157. Special Publication of Lithic Technology No. 4. Tulsa, Oklahoma.
2002b Rummells-Maske Revisited: A Fluted Point Cache from East Central Iowa. Plains Anthropologist 47(183):307-321.
This website is maintained by Dr. Julie Morrow, firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was last updated on August 10, 2005