Folsom, Melzer, Americas discussed on Bear Grease

Bear Grease


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 associated with something else, much bigger. They were tightly associated with a relics form of bison called bison antiques. Not something that went extinct, a relic form of the animal that lives here now. It was bigger, had different sort of horn configuration. It was about 25% bigger. They call it like bison antiquus. They had a lot of fidelity to a certain style of point. They had a lot seems to have a lot of fidelity to bison and they lived and what is now the American great plains. That's where they're found. So you can find them in the Panhandle of Texas. You can find them in New Mexico. You can find them in Montana. You can find Folsom points in southern Saskatchewan. You can find them all way the western Nebraska, but they stayed to the great plains. Where the most of the planes buffalo were. Yeah. And at the time, it was probably cooler and wetter, but it was an open grassland, and it was just going by how few Folsom sites there are and how widely dispersed they are and kind of the imprint of those people. It was probably insanely low population densities. I can't no one can say this for real, but I've run this by professional anthropologists. It's not unreasonable to think that a band of these hunters, which would be an extended family group. These bands of people, it makes sense that they were maybe they maybe didn't exceed ten or 20 individuals. It's not unreasonable to imagine that they could go a generation without it encountering individuals that you're not immediately related to. It seems very few people occupying that landscape at that time. Take a minute and imagine the North American continent 10,300 years ago with human populations that scarce. By the time Europeans arrived here, roughly 10,000 years after the Folsom bison kill, which would be about 600 plus years from the present backwards from the present. The place was basically like an urban center crawling with people. The civilization of the American Indians was in full swing at highly developed compared to when the Folsom hunters were here. Some American Indians are undoubtedly the descendants of the Folsom hunters. Wildly, though, of all the things these Folsom hunters used in life, there is one thing that has outlasted the rigor of time that we infer an incredible amount of data from. One of the things I like about the projectile point, since it's made of stone and it lasts a long time. So it winds up being some people that are ninja what we'd call Indian arrowheads. Sometimes don't get the fascination with it. A way to think about it, it's not so much that it's the arrowhead. It's just a piece of something that survived sometimes in a perfect state from the time they handled it. Their bones are gone, to large measure, they're homes and structures, the things they wore, the wood that they employed, I'd be as excited to find a spear shaft, but they're not laying around. It's like, but here's the thing that a guy can drop that thing. And it's considered for 12,000 years. What other thing can you drop on the ground? We talk about how long our stuff lasts, right? How long plastic glass? You set a plastic bottle. Underground for 12,000 years to come back and look at it. There might be something, but it ain't gonna look like a portable. Imagine archeologists 10,000 years from now. Well, I doubt this place will be around. But them taking just one of your material possessions and making vast inferences about your entire life from it. I wonder what they'd say. I had some questions about how an archeological site is verified, so it's legitimacy is known. I think it's important for us to understand the bigger picture of what's happening here beyond some dudes digging up bones and finding stone points, Q, the Randy Travis song. It's a pretty complex world and there were many missteps in early archeology and in the original excavation of the Folsom site that almost disqualified it. So from an archeological process, there's a prescribed way that a site should be excavated and understood. As I understand it, there were other sites in Texas and Nebraska and maybe even in Kansas that potentially had similar type evidence of humans in these older animals that are now extinct, but they were mishandled and so they have to be it's like evidence coming into a courtroom that was acquired the wrong way in the judge goes. I can't use this. That's exactly how it played out. But we also need to put a little bit of historical context here. This is the late 1890s, early 1900s, the teens. There weren't clear cut methods for field excavation. A lot of these excavations were not conducted by what we would now recognize as sort of professional scientists, professional archeologists, professional geologists, and they didn't know what they were doing. It's really what it came down to. So we had this site out in Frederick, Oklahoma, where it was a gravel quarry. And the folks who were working the gravel query said, oh yeah, we've got artifacts associated with mammoth bones. Well, you know, it requires a certain amount of expertise to sort of really be able to in an excavation know, okay, these are deposits of a certain age. These are things that are associated with those deposits. We know that they belong in those deposits. And so because there were not agreed upon field techniques and clear cut field techniques at the time, and because some of these discoveries were made by folks who really didn't understand what they were seeing. And they weren't even archeologists. You know, they're guys that work at the quarry. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And they're just their job is just to shovel that stuff out of the way. So you find an artifact in the spoil pile over here and you find some bones in the spoil pile over there. That doesn't mean that that artifact and that bone were associated back 20,000 years ago, 15,000 years ago. In retrospect, a couple of those sites, not the one in Frederick, but one out in Colorado city, Texas. In retrospect, we looked at the artifacts and we said, well, you know what? There is a possibility those artifacts could have been associated with that bison. But the problem was, in 1924, and this is a few years before Folsom, the bison was being excavated by a fella, who was just a local guy. He had discovered this bison in this creek bed and he wrote to the museum and said, you guys want it. So the folks folks in Denver said, yeah, we'd really like to have that bison skeleton. And they gave him instructions on how to get it out of the ground, plaster it, and put it into crates and ship it up to Denver. He excavates the bison, plasters it up. He puts it into a crate and the crate had been, you know, the folks in Denver had said make a crate, you know, this big by this big by this big, and so he had this giant plastered bison. Couldn't fit it into a crate. Instead of building a bigger crate, he simply knocked off chunks of the bone. Shoved it in there. So this was not done well, right? And even though they found artifacts with the bison, they didn't realize that that was of interest, or significance. Wow. And so they just ignored them, and it was only after the fact somebody was visiting Denver and said, hey, you know, I'd watched your guys excavate this thing down in Texas and did you know they have points that came out with the bison and the folks in Denver said, we had no clue. So, you know, you can't basic case for people having been here a very long time ago or hunting bison or a very long time ago when you had that kind of excavation. And so that very well could have been a totally legitimate site. And I think it is actually the Folsom site was originally excavated by an amateur archeologist named Karl.

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