Melzer, Folsom, Americas discussed on Bear Grease
Era, which is a block of time that began a couple million years ago and ended 10,000 years ago. The time period from then until now is called the holocene. We live in the holocene. If you know these two words, pleistocene and holocene, you're pretty much be in the loop for talking about the recent history of Planet Earth. Doctor melzer is the author of multiple books on the pleistocene, including first peoples in a new world. The great Paleolithic war and search for the first Americans. I went to the campus of SMU in Dallas, Texas, where he works. We'd hardly greeted each other when he asked me to follow him into his lab. It was full of bones and stone tools. Ancient stuff. A skull that's been turned upside down because when we got it in the ground, it was top of the head facing up, right? So we plastered it, and then we cut underneath it, lifted it out. And so now what you see is the plastic. It's resting on its plaster cast, and you can see the teeth in here. Wow, right? And there's the back of the skull, so that is a bison and tick with skull from the bullshit. Yep, and it's a big and it's pretty wild being in the same room with the skull of a bison antiques. If you want to see a cell phone video, the skull, you can check out my Instagram clay underscore newcombe. Doctor melzer is a unique guy when it comes to Folsom. The site was originally excavated between 1926 and 1928, but 70 years later there were unanswered questions that he knew our modern techniques and technology could now answer. Primarily carbon dating, which we'll talk about more in part three of this series. Like a dramatic movie sequel in 1997, doctor melzer and his team went back to Folsom. They dug up the place again with new questions about the site's geology, its antiquity, which is the site's age. The paleo topography, which is its former geography, and its depositional history, which basically means the layers that covered the site. Here's doctor melzer talking about the uniqueness of the Folsom site. For 50 years, there had been this very heated debate over how long people had been in the Americas and all manner of contenders were put forward. This is evidence that people have been here since the pleistocene. This is evidence that people have been here for 300,000 years. Here's evidence that people have been here for 350,000 years, but in each and every instance those sites failed to prove what they were claimed to prove, and they failed because of various reasons. The artifacts weren't actually artifacts. The artifacts were not in the geological deposits that were said to be that old. The artifacts had rolled downhill and ended up next to ancient animal remains, but they were not necessarily in what we call primary context. That is to say they didn't enter the deposit. At the same time, as those ancient animals enter the deposit. And so you had literally decades of people arguing back and forth over how long people had been in the Americas. When Folsom came along, it was just as advertised. What you had was a spot on the landscape where hunters had confronted and killed a herd of bison. We now know there were about 32 animals that were dispatched that day. And in the process, left behind their artifacts in ways that made it absolutely clear that those animals and those people had been on that very landscape at the same moment in time because we had spear points, what we now know is false and fluted points in direct association with the bones and what I mean by that is we had a projectile point in between ribs. It had sat there since that animal was killed, right? There was no question that that was some sort of adventitious association that somehow a projectile point had worked its way down into the dirt into the earth ten feet below the surface and ended up in between two bison ribs. Right. No, that animal was stabbed by a human, and because that animal was a now extinct form of bison, which went extinct at the end of the pleistocene. That was the first absolutely definitive proof that people had been in the Americas at the end of the pleistocene. The only question remaining after that was how much earlier might they have been? Right. But that's what made fulsome different. It was just as advertised. When you look back at the history of archeology itself as a study, there was an incredible amount of drama and ego involved in the discussion of human antiquity. It was highly competitive regarding who discovered what and where. So it's hard to overstate how important the find was because it was so indisputable. Here's another component of understanding Folsom and archeology that will help us. This is Steve describe into us what is called a type site. A lot of bygone cultures will have a thing called the type site. The type site is where they were identified. When we talk about Folsom hunters, the fulsome culture was identified at, wild horse Arroyo, your fulsome, New Mexico, was when it was first identified. The identifying feature of the Folsom culture. I was called Folsom hunters. And they took the name Folsom simply because that was the English name of the town. Sure, that was probably a brand new town. That has nothing to do as a descriptor of these people. Not at all. Just to keeping in the same state. It's the same point in the same state. When we talk about a Clovis hunter, it just so happens that the projectile points which stand for the hunters that made them were first identified near Clovis, New Mexico. They were there over 10,000 years before anyone even thought to name to make it to the place clothes. We happened to right now doing our conversation about Folsom near shattering Nebraska. Were you and I had to walk out and find holy cow. Look at this insane projectile point. Diagnostic, unfound point. And then we realized it was this whole culture of people and they made this point. They might wind up calling them the shattering hunters. I think they'd call it brunel newcombe. Okay. But if they were consistent with the days of yore, that's what they would wind up name them. Folsom hunters were identified near false New Mexico and so they the name, the nearby town name was applied to the culture. When we talk about a culture atom, like, what do you imagine? A culture of people. We know them when we see them based on the point. With our understanding right now, it's the point. The point has to be present. The projectile point that they like to make has to be present, meaning, if we know that the wholesome culture was active, 11,700 years ago. If you went down to South Florida and found a human campsite from 11,700 years ago that had a different projectile point, you wouldn't call it a Folsom site. Okay, so it's not two. Yeah, it's not when it's who and when. It describes a culture just like the culture of us to drive Chevrolet pickups. Sure, and there's another culture in France that drives some other kind of pickup. The Folsom culture is identified by the type of technology they use when making stone points, but this culture was also.