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Discovery Bias, Excavation Bias, Clovis Diet, and Archaeological Mythmaking

Author(s): Douglas Bamforth

Year: 2016

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Summary

The myth of Paleoindian big-game specialization has deep roots in our field. None of these roots run deeper than for the Clovis Period, where the vision of humans armed with stone-tipped spears attacking animals the size of extinct elephants has enchanted the public and professional imaginations almost equally. But issues of differential site discovery and investigation run equally deep, and this is especially so for Clovis archaeology. Ancient archaeological sites left by mobile hunters can be hard to find, and the bones of large animals typically attract far more attention than sparse scatters of unmodified flakes. This paper examines the processes of discovery for the set of sites that comprise the Clovis archaeological record on the Great Plains and Southwest, with two particular issues in mind. First, how the presence of large mammal bone has affected decisions to excavate sites and, second, how the kinds of sites we are likely to find by excavating around large mammal bone affect our ability to generalize about Clovis ways of life.


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Discovery Bias, Excavation Bias, Clovis Diet, and Archaeological Mythmaking. Douglas Bamforth. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403307)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America