An Archeological Dig in Michigan Turns Up Some Surprising Artifacts

An Archeological Dig in Michigan Turns Up Some Surprising Artifacts

Archeologists have found a small mountain of artifacts buried in a farm field that show the presence of some of the first peoples to inhabit the Americas.


Brendan Nash: So this is the sub-plow sediment from unit 133, and anything in here will have will be undisturbed for about 13,000 years. You should really be looking for the smallest flakes. These things are small so you need to really get your face in there. This is a biface refurbishment flake. People are bringing out their hunting weapons here after they’ve been used, and refurbishing them for another round.

Tom Talbot This flake fragment is Attica Chert. This is exactly what we are looking for. The Belson site is located on the north side. I first noticed the site in the mid seventies. This was the bottom section I found when I walked into the field.

I knew exactly what it was. I got back in the truck and returned home. This time… And this time… It was mine, so I took it. It was mine. It’s laying there for, you know, 13,000 years.

First, I thought it was a fluke since Clovis had never been discovered in Michigan. Clovis would not be found here, because it was a different style by the time fluted point technology reached Great Lakes Basin. We were very happy with what we found when you opened the site. The big question was: was Clovis material still present beneath the plow zone?

Yes, we are recording Clovis material that is undisturbed. It’s laying there for, you know, 13,000 years.

Nash We are mapping each one and creating a data map showing exactly where the debris fell. We can hopefully begin to understand how people used their space.

Talbot: 7.8 in length. We believe we are locating the places they were carving up game. We also pinpointed where they were scraping hides and where they were resharpening tools. These little details reveal a variety of things happening on the site. Clovis people were always traveling. They followed the herds.

They probably harvested migratory animals at least twice a year. It is not known if it would be large megafauna such as the wooly mammoth and mastodon. Caribou is more likely.

Henry Wright I worked on the drawings for a while, so the original drawings can be found right here. Clovis is a typical example of a plains way to live. These men came off the plains looking like Clovis bison hunters and then switched readapt to end the hunting of the caribou.

Did they realize they were moving to the environment? They immediately engaged in a new kind of technological and socio-organizational organization.

Talbot: I think the most important thing is it shows Clovis had actually traveled this far north up into the Great Lakes, basically both sides. Clovis has been extensively studied in the southwest as well as the southeast.

It is truly an amazing thing to find him in Michigan.

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