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For the last several decades, in addition to capturing everyone’s attention because of the skill that making them requires, Clovis points have been thought to have been made by the first people to inhabit the Americas.
On a Tuesday morning in fall 2013, Mike Collins loaded up his RV and started the 11-hour drive from his home in Austin, Texas, to Santa Fe, New Mexico.Collins was en route to the Paleoamerican Odyssey conference, where he and other researchers would lay out their evidence, gathered from sites throughout North, Central, and South America, as part of the ongoing effort to piece together a picture of how and when humans settled these lands millennia ago.It was the biggest gathering of its kind since 1999.Collins, a Texas State University archaeologist, had precious cargo with him in the form of more than 70 stone tools that he’d found during his 15 years of digging at a site in central Texas, roughly midway between Dallas and San Antonio, called Gault.His collection was scrupulously organized into two groups—one that he believes are more than 13,000 years old and a second that he believes were made more recently.The tools—blades, scrapers, and bifaces (typically crafted carefully on both sides)—initially appear to share similarities, as if all are part of the same lineage.
But three points in the “newer” collection exhibit striking work—“stemmed” ends and fluting—of a caliber not seen in the other cache.
These points, to which the term “beautiful” is often applied, are Clovis points.
Archaeologists posit several possible routes: The red line represents a migration from Beringia, the land bridge that once connected Siberia and Alaska.
The yellow indicates travel by boat along the northern rim of the Pacific, then southward along the coast.
The purple line indicates human travel from the Iberian Peninsula to Newfoundland by boat, along the edge of an ice cap.
The blue line suggests migration, by boat, from west Africa to Brazil.