Central States Archaeological Societies
Central States Archaeological Societies

THE RECOVERY OF A HAZEL CLOVIS AND SPECULATION ABOUT ITS USE

Steve Flanigan 
Canon City, Colorado

 

The Clovis pictured with this article is a type known as the Hazel Clovis, or sometimes as the Ross County Clovis variety. After I acquired this point, I was later fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk with the individual who found it. Most often, when a point is purchased, it is not even possible to locate or speak to the finder, so I was very happy to be able to obtain valuable information about this point.

This Clovis was found in a plowed field during the late 1980s by Alan Woodring of Winchester, Kentucky. Like myself, Alan had been actively hunting plowed fields for artifacts for many years. He informed me that this was an isolated find. It was not associated with any other indications of habitation such as scrapers, knives, chips, tool fragments, blade cores, or any other related artifacts. This is not unusual for a Clovis find. They are often isolated finds. Alan told me that he considers himself lucky because in over twenty years of field hunting, this was not his only Clovis find, for he had found one other as well. But in his words, each was found "many years and many miles apart."

The point pictured was found four miles northwest of Winchester, Kentucky, on higher ground that lies between Johnson Creek and Strodes Creek. These two very small streams empty into the Licking River watershed. The Licking River then flows north for about seventy- five miles, where it joins the Ohio River. Having lived in Kentucky, 1 am familiar with this region. It consists of gently rolling hills and almost flat terrain at the upper headwater of the Licking River drainage. The land is crossed by small streams and dotted by small ponds. In ancient times it may have been well suited to hunt herd animals such as elk, musk ox and caribou. It was probably an excellent hunting area.

For the record, the Hazel or Ross County Clovis type was manufactured at or before 9,500 BC. It is identified by its gently recurved blade shape and by the broad and flat percussion flake scars across the face of the blade. It is also characterized by relatively short flutes compared to other Clovis types.

It is possible that the thin cross section, narrow base, and short flutes would have combined to result in a point much less sturdy than other Clovis types. It is thought that Clovis points served as a combination hunting and butchering tool. Most Clovis point types have a lenticular cross-section, a wider base, and longer flutes. It is interesting to speculate that the narrow base, thinner cross-section, and shorter fluting of the Hazel variety may have an intentional design for hunting purposes. It may have resulted in a point more effective for thrusting and for penetration during the hunt rather than for knife use in heavier tasks of cutting and butchering. This design may have been especially practical for the hunting of herd animals smaller than the mammoth or mastodon, such as elk and caribou. Hunting these relatively smaller animals, a sturdier form of the more common Clovis type may not have been as essential. Another possibility is that the difference between the Hazel variety and the more common Clovis types is related to differing time periods. The style of the Hazel type is similar in shape to some later point types like the Cumberland and Beaver Lake points. However, these points have a lenticular cross- section. Also, they do not share the same style of work, consisting of broad removal percussion flakes without secondary flaking intruding onto the blade face. The Hazel variety may not be a later occurring type than other Clovis points. It is interesting to speculate if there may have been a functional reason for this differences in Clovis styles.

The recovery of such an ancient and beautifully made artifact is extremely rare. Many broken or less impressive points are found by those of us who actively search plowed fields. Still, we can only dream of finding a point like the one pictured—perhaps once in fifteen years, if at all. If Alan had not found this Clovis, it almost certainly would have been destroyed by the plow during the next one or two planting seasons. I feel fortunate to be the caretaker of this point. We all benefit from the efforts of people like Alan. Such an effort can only result in an artifact like this one being saved undamaged, and they also can result in information about the find and recording it. No one could ask for more.

 

 

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