Archaeologists in Michigan have discovered a 13,000-year-old campsite of the mysterious Clovis people, which they believe is the earliest evidence of humans in the region.
A group of researchers, led by those at the University of Michigan, have found more than 20 Clovis tools over the years, starting in 2008.
Clovis tools are made from a high quality stone known as chert and are crafted in a specific way, with a central channel passing through it.
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Archaeologists found a 13,000-year-old campground belonging to the mysterious Clovis people in Michigan. Dating back to 2008, over 20 Clovis tools have been found in the region
Located in St. Joseph County, the site is believed to have been inhabited by a small group of people — about six or seven — who lived on a river. It is believed to be the earliest evidence of humans in the region
Located in St. Joseph County, the site is believed to have been inhabited by a small group of people — about six or seven — who lived on a river in what is now the southwestern part of the state during the late Pleistocene epoch.
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The campsite is relatively small, about 25 meters by 15 meters, “comparable to other Paleo-Indian campsites,” according to one pronunciation from the University of Michigan.
The experts also discovered “hundreds of pieces of manufacturing and renovation waste,” as well as flakes of material showing that the camp residents were making tools at the site, the statement said.
“Right now, it’s the most northwestern event in the Great Lakes region,” researchers wrote in the study.
The Clovis culture is said to be the first widespread prehistoric culture in the Americas after arriving about 13,000 years ago.
There was little evidence of human habitation before the tools’ discovery — the first came in 2008 — as most of Michigan was “uninhabitable” during the period, covered by glaciers, save for a small triangular stretch in the southwestern part of the stands.
“As the glaciers retreated, they created a predictable environment on the ice that was frequented by early humans’ favorite prey,” study lead author Brendan Nash said in the statement.
‘Early humans had a wolf model of existence: they traveled in large groups and never stayed too long. They were an apex predator and probably hunted as well as scavengers, perhaps chasing other Ice Age predators, such as saber-toothed tigers and short-faced bears, from their prey.”
The experts also found “hundreds of pieces of manufacturing and renovation waste,” as well as flakes of material showing that the camp residents were making tools at the site.
Nash continued, “What we have at the Belson site appears to be a short-lived camp by a group that would probably split off from the main group seasonally.”
One of the researchers, Thomas Talbot, found the first Clovid spearhead in 2008 on a farm and said they are undeniably part of a larger discovery and certainly of the Clovis people.
“Paleolithic pieces — not that old, but pieces that are similar — have turned up in Michigan, but usually they’re quite scattered, as if someone might have lost it while they were hunting or hiking,” Talbot said.
“So while I thought it was really cool, I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime find. But other pieces started popping up and by the end of the spring it was pretty obvious I had Clovis components on this site.”
It’s unclear what caused the Clovis people’s disappearance, but some researchers believe an asteroid or comet wiped them out.
Tools made by the Clovis, such as projectile points or skin scrapers, had a central channel passing through them, called a flute.
They are also made of chert, also known as Attica chert or Indiana greenstone.
This material, greenish-blue-gray or gray in color, is commonly found in western Indiana or eastern Illinois, according to the Smithsonian.
Chert is also often infused with halcedonic quartz and often has “a coarse to very smooth, fine-grained or shiny texture.”
The site is now known as the Belson site, after the family who own the land and contribute to Michigan’s heritage as a site for further archaeological discoveries, Nash said.
“It has always been thought that the cultural history of Michigan is a fragment of the cultural histories of other places that happen to come in and out of Michigan on a regular basis.
“What we’re seeing now is that we’re present as early as other locations in North America, and it has the same technology.”
The research was published earlier this year in the scientific journal PaleoAmerica.
In 2018, researchers discovered 150,000 “unique” tools northwest of Austin Texas, made by the Clovis people.
WHO WERE THE CLOVIS PEOPLE?
The Clovis people, a prehistoric Native American group of hunter-gatherers, reached North America about 13,500 years ago.
They hunted mammoths, mastodons and giant bison with large spears.
Clovis artifacts are distinctive prehistoric stone tools so named because they were first found near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1920s.
Since then, they have been identified throughout the Americas.
These early humans were distinguished for the finely fluted stone points they made for weapons.
Centuries of cold, nicknamed the ‘Big Freeze’, would have wiped out the Clovis, as well as most large mammals in North America
In recent years, however, archaeological evidence has increasingly questioned the idea that these people were the first to reach America.
In the latest investigation to question this long-held theory, researchers led by Thomas Williams of Texas State University’s Department of Anthropology have excavated the Gault site northwest of Austin.
They found a collection of artifacts between 16,000 and 20,000 years old.