Ancient Spear Points Found In Texas Could Rewrite Early American History

Ancient Spear Points
Image: M. R. Waters et al., 2018/Science Advances

Archeologists discovered ancient spear points in Texas, and some of them were made using unknown forms of spear point technology. For example, there are triangular blades that appear to be older than the projectile points first made by the Paleoamerican Clovis culture.

A team of researchers from Texas A&M University studied the ancient spear points in Texas and believes they are the oldest weapons ever found in North America. They believe some spear points are as old as 15,500 years. The discovery raises a lot of questions about the continent’s earliest residents.

A team of scientists consisting of Michael Waters, a professor of anthropology and director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M and colleagues from Baylor University and the University of Texas published their findings in the journal Science Advances.

The team discovered a large selection of weapons measuring about three to four inches long while they were digging at the Debra L. Friedkin site, which was named after the family which owns the land, roughly 40 miles northwest of Austin, Tex. Scientists have been working steadily on the site for the last 12 years.

Archeologists found the ancient spear points in Texas under several feet of sediment they believe to be roughly 15,500 years old. They say that pre-dates the Clovis culture, primarily believed to be the first people who entered the American continent.

“There is no doubt these weapons were used for hunting game in the area at that time,” Waters said in a statement. “The discovery is significant because almost all pre-Clovis sites have stone tools, but spear points have yet to be found. These points were found under a layer with Clovis and Folsom projectile points. Clovis is dated to 13,000 to 12,700 years ago and Folsom after that. The dream has always been to find diagnostic artifacts – such as projectile points – that can be recognized as older than Clovis and this is what we have at the Friedkin site.”

The Clovis name was given to tools made by people archeologists believe lived in the Americas about 13,000 years ago. The Clovis people are credited with inventing the so-called “Clovis-point,” a spear-shaped weapon made from stone, which has been found in Texas and other parts of the United States, and northern Mexico. According to archeologists, the weapons were used to hunt animals, including mammoths and mastodons, between 13,000 and 12,700 years ago.

“The findings expand our understanding of the earliest people to explore and settle North America,” Waters said. “The peopling of the Americas during the end of the last Ice Age was a complex process and this complexity is seen in their genetic record. Now we are starting to see this complexity mirrored in the archaeological record.”

The newly-discovered technology in the ancient spear points in Texas appeared in two new forms: lanceolate, or leaf-shaped points believed to date between 15,500 and 13,500 years ago, and triangular stemmed points, believed to date between 14,000 and 13,500 years ago.

“Our discovery shows that stemmed points predate lanceolate point styles,” Waters told Gizmodo. “Given the age of the Debra L. Friedkin site—early people carrying stemmed points likely arrived by entering the Americas along the Pacific coast. Later lanceolate point forms—like Clovis—may have developed from the stemmed point forms or a second migration of people carried some sort of lanceolate point, like the triangular lanceolate form we found at the Friedkin site, and this developed into Clovis.”

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