The Western Stemmed Tradition and the Glacier Peak Eruptions: a precautionary tale

Author(s): Kenneth Reid; Franklin Foit, Jr.

Year: 2017


Recent reviews of the radiocarbon record for Western Stemmed components on the Columbia Plateau suggest a post-Clovis age for this tradition. Controversies over the timing question are intensified by highly selective frames of references for mapping regional patterns of site distribution. Some sites are highlighted, other relevant sites ignored, and still others find their way into the debate through uncritical confirmation bias. This paper focuses on the latter confusion, examining the use of Glacier Peak tephra to establish terminus post quem Clovis or pre-Clovis ages for Western Stemmed components at the Spalding site on the lower Clearwater River, and Pilcher Creek in the Blue Mountains. The tephra identifications at both sites rest on personal communications from the same analyst/laboratory, but without supporting glass chemistry data. Subsequent reanalysis of the Spalding tephra identified it as redeposited Mazama. Potential misidentification of its nominal counterpart at Pilcher Creek encourages a second look there as well. If it is Glacier Peak rather than Mazama, the thickness of the deposit and its downslope position are consistent with a secondary rather than primary deposit. To date there is no convincing evidence of contemporaneity between the Western Stemmed tradition and primary Glacier Peak B/G eruptions.

Cite this Record

The Western Stemmed Tradition and the Glacier Peak Eruptions: a precautionary tale. Kenneth Reid, Franklin Foit, Jr.. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429736)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -122.168; min lat: 42.131 ; max long: -113.028; max lat: 49.383 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15662