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Debra L. Friedkin Site (Texas)

Pre-Clovis in Texas - Friedkin Site

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Excavation at the Debra L. Friedkin Site

Excavation at the Debra L. Friedkin Site

Courtesy Michael R. Waters

The Debra L. Friedkin site is a Pre-Clovis, Paleoindian and Archaic period site located in the alluvial floodplain of Buttermilk Creek in central Texas, about 250 meters downstream of the famous Gault Clovis site. The multiple components of the Friedkin site are in correct stratigraphic order, with Folsom overlying Clovis, overlying the Pre-Clovis strata in what excavators are calling the Buttermilk Creek Complex.

Stratigraphy of Debra L. Friedkin Site

The Friedkin site is located on a fluvial terrace within the Buttermilk Creek floodplain. The site includes stacked early Archaic, Paleoindian, and Pre-Clovis levels, below a mixed Late Prehistoric-Late Archaic level and above a layer without artifacts at all. No features were discovered at the site, and no charcoal was identified: dates of the site's occupations were determined using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) on the soils in which the artifacts were recovered.

  • Surface
  • Late Prehistoric-Late Archaic (30-50 cm thick) Edgewod, Ensor, Castroville, Perdiz, Gary, Darl, Scallorn points (7160-7600 BP)
  • Early Archaic (40 cm) Wells, Angostura points (8070-10,480 BP)
  • Folsom (3.5 cm) Folsom points (13,090 BP)
  • Clovis (2.5 cm) Clovis bifaces (13,780 BP)
  • Pre-Clovis (20 cm) (14,350-16,170 BP)
  • Sterile layer (20,330-24,420 BP)
  • Limestone Bedrock

Pre-Clovis Artifacts at Friedkin

More than 15,000 lithic artifacts were recovered from the Pre-Clovis occupations at Friedkin, including 56 stone tools; the remainder of the artifacts are debitage, stone flakes left over from stone tool construction. All of the chert artifacts are from locally-available Edwards chert. The tools include 12 bifaces, 1 core, 23 flake tools, 5 blade fragments, 14 bladelets and a piece of polished hematite. Usewear on some of the blades indicate that they were used to cut and scrape hard material such as bone, antler or wood, perhaps as a result of animal butchering or wood-working. The tools also include gravers and lanceolate forms.

Five refits were identified within the Buttermilk Creek Complex levels, consisting of two technological refits and three conjoining refit flake fragments. All were found within the same level of the same unit, with a maximum vertical separation of 2.5 cm and a maximum horizontal separation of 1.4 meters. Piece-plotting of two sets of refits, and calcium carbonate accumulations on the breakage surface, lend support to the breakage as having taken place at the time of occupation, and the artifacts being in situ rather than fluvially-placed.

Friedkin Site Function

If the Friedkin site is an in situ occupation, and it certainly looks that way, functions in evidence suggest that the Pre-Clovis people visited Buttermilk Creek to exploit the locally available chert, making stone tools and doing some animal butchering and/or wood working before moving on.

Excavators Michael R. Waters et al. argue that the site's core reduction strategies and biface- and blade-dominated tool kit are evolutionary precursors to Clovis technologies. They point to similar bifaces, flake tools and debitage at other Pre-Clovis sites such as Schaefer and Hebior mammoth sites (Wisconsin) and Meadowcroft Rockshelter (Pennsylvania).

Sources

This glossary entry is a part of the About.com guide to Pre-Clovis Culture, and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Jennings TA. 2012. Clovis, Folsom, and Midland components at the Debra L. Friedkin site, Texas: context, chronology, and assemblages. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(10):3239-3247.

Morrow JE, Fiedel SJ, Johnson DL, Kornfeld M, Rutledge M, and Wood WR. 2012. Pre-Clovis in Texas? A critical assessment of the “Buttermilk Creek Complex”. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(12):3677-3682.

Waters MR, Forman SL, Jennings TA, Nordt LC, Driese SG, Feinberg JM, Keene JL, Halligan J, Lindquist A, Pierson J et al. 2011. The Buttermilk Creek Complex and the Origins of Clovis at the Debra L. Friedkin Site, Texas. Science 331:1599-1603.

Waters MR, Forman SL, Jennings TA, Nordt LC, Driese SG, Feinberg JM, Keene JL, Halligan J, Lindquist A, Pierson J et al. 2011. Supporting Online Material for The Buttermilk Creek Complex and the Origins of Clovis at the Debra L. Friedkin Site, Texas. Science magazine.

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