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Topper Site

Pre-clovis in South Carolina

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Time Team America production team at edge of Topper Site Deep Trench

Time Team America production team at edge of Topper Site Deep Trench

Meg Gaillard

The Topper site is located about 80 kilometers from the Atlantic coast of North American within the Savannah River coastal plain. The site is deeply buried within the fill of a raised terrace and colluvium parallel to the current Savannah River channel, to depths of perhaps five meters and more.

The Topper site has been occupied for more than 10,000 years, including stratified components from Late Prehistoric to Clovis. Below the Clovis period occupation, archaeologists found charcoal concentrations and chert that excavator Al Goodyear believes are representative of preclovis. Two Preclovis occupations have been recorded at Topper.

An article published in the July 2009 issue of Journal of Archaeological Science addresses the geomorphology and dating of the Topper site's preclovis occupations. The upper assemblage appears to date to ca. 15,000 RCYBP; the lower is older than 50,000 RCYBP (the upper limit of radiocarbon testing).

AMS dates on wood charcoal and humic acids within the soils of the preclovis sites, and OSL dates were taken during a study of the geomorphology in and in-press in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Artifacts from the preclovis occupations of Topper are both described as a smashed core and microlithic industry. Those materials have not been completely published to date.

Archaeological studies at Topper have been conducted by Al Goodyear for some 20 years. The site excavations are ongoing and more things will undoubtedly be found.

Sources

The Allendale Paleoamerican Expedition

Waters, Michael R., Steven L. Forman, Thomas W. Stafford=Jr., and John Foss 2009 Geoarchaeological Investigations at the Topper and Big Pine Sites, Allendale County, Central Savannah River, South Carolina. Journal of Archaeological Science. 36(7):1300-1311.

This glossary entry is part of the Guide to Preclovis and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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