Clovis Man, also known as the Paleoindians, lived approximately 11,000 years ago. We know they are this old, because of carbon samples taken from the Clovis Man campsites, that were dated using the carbon 14 half life method. This makes the Clovis Man the oldest tribe found in North America.
The Clovis Man was a hunter that survived on Bison and Mammoth as their main food. We know this because bones were found with cut marks on them from where the Clovis Man cut too deeply into the flesh of the mammoth or Bison. For knives, they used obsidian or chert rocks that were flaked by a softer rock, causing the edge to get sharp. The knives were made by taking the rock and chipping, or "knapping" a sharp edge on a hard rock with a soft rock. This made a cutting edge that was sharper than a razor blade. According to Hughy, one of the onsite archaeologists, "if a molecule was as big as a bowling ball, the edge of a razor would be a wide as a road, but an obsidian knife edge would be only 1 molecule thick when new."
Clovis Man also made spear points out of rock. The points were chipped, or knapped, to form a point with a flute, or groove, down the length. The spear was split at the end, and each side fit into the groove and the point was lashed on with a piece of leather. These points were normally 3 inches long. A very rare point that was only 1 ¼ inch long was found at the Blackwater Draw site by amateur archaeologist, Eric Smith in the summer of 97. He feels that this point was probably made to hunt smaller game than the mammoth or Bison. Some of the possible game animals this point was designed for could be animals such as the Sloth, Antelope, or Deer.
They used a 2 piece spear because they used long shafts, and if they hit something hard, like a bone, the shaft would shatter. Since the shafts were hard to make, they made a shaft with a removable end that was 6 inches long. This end held the point that was fit to a smaller shaft that was held in the hollow end of the main shaft. This way, they could carry just 2 large shafts, and many points.
In order to throw the spear with enough power to kill a mammoth, they used a throwing device called an ATLATL. The atlatl is an arms length piece of wood that has a cup or pin made on the end. The spear is set into the cup, or over the pin. Flipping the atlatl with your arm and wrist increases the speed and power of the spear. The World Record for long distance currently stands at 848.56 feet. This throw was made by Dave Ingvall of St. Joseph, Missouri, USA on 15 July 1995 in Aurora, Colorado. Dave used a carbon fibre atlatl with an aluminum dart of his own construction. The power that the atlatl imparts to the spear is so great that the Aztecs re-adopted the technology for it's armor piercing capabilities against the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. The Spaniards feared the atlatl because it could propel a spear through their armor.
The Blackwater site has the oldest hand dug well in North America. It is a hole about 2 feet wide and 5 feet deep dug in the ground. There are still fossilized bison bones around the well. The well shows that there was fluctuations in the water level of the lake or periods drought. During the time that Clovis Man was in this area, the climate was very simular to that of the African plains with a lot of tall grass, and leafy bushes. Clovis Man was also hunted. Some of the preditors that he had to watch out for were the aber Tooth Tiger, and the Dire Wolf.
Clovis Man was discovered in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, near what was an ancient lake. Mr Whiteman 1st aroused the interest of the Smithsonian in 1929 by sending them a tooth and a Clovis Point. The Blackwater draw site is currently owned by Eastern New Mexico University.
A Brief scenario of life at Blackwater Draw
as envisioned by present Archeologists.
The time is 11,300 years ago. Imagine that you are enjoying the view of the lush vegetation on the Llano Estacado. The spring fed Blackwater Draw Lake is a favorite place to hunt. You remember how much better this water tastes than the last water hole. It feels good to rest for the moment, watching the insects and birds fly around. The group of hunters you are with suddenly become alert. A tense excitement is mounting as a loud, awesome sound is hear. You recognize this as the sound of a mammoth. The animal is tromping through the tall grasses that surround the lake wanting a drink of cool water . Your extended family members have begun stalking toward the sound. They motion with hand signals for you to go in a certain direction.
Everyone prepares for the flurry of action to come. The spear throwing stick is aimed and ready. The Clovis spear points are sharp. Hopefully one will pierce a vital organ and cause the huge creature to die. The signal is given and the attack proceeds. The mammoth falls. The band of hunters rush to finish the kill.
Plenty of food is available from one animal this size. Tons of meat can be prepared for the coming winter. Most of the group helps in the process of preparing the meat, hide, and bones for future use. Some members keep watch with their weapons ready. Other large predators may be nearby and hungry.
This scene was repeated many times during the Clovis occupation of the Blackwater Draw Site. Even though other animals were killed for food, the mammoth was considered the prize. It provided an abundance of food and other natural resources, such as sinew, tusks, and bone for weapons and tools. Brains for tanning the hide and rib bones for shelter supports were also obtained. Nothing was wasted.
The information gathered for this scenario is presented as clues to the archaeologist. Clues are buried and preserved in the sediments at this and other Paleoindian sites across the United States. We call these clues artifacts. We find artifacts from stone and bone that was used for weapons or tools. Other clues are found in sediments, pollen, and charcoal from hearths. Features such as hearths and wells provide clues to the technology and environment of the Paleoindian.