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1 .<-NARRATOR:->Listen to part of a lecture in an archaeology class.
1 .<-FEMALE PROFESSOR:->We'll be looking at the original settlement of the Americas next and I'll spend the next few classes talking about the Clovis people.
2 .And the two big questions archaeologists have about them... the two big questions are: When did the Clovis people arrive in the Americas? And, of course, were they the first people in the Western Hemisphere?
3 .And we'll get to that, but for today let's try to get an idea about- well... a question that's not addressed as much as the others and that's what was their culture like? And how do we figure that out?
1 .Now again, there is a great debate about when the Clovis people first arrived in the Americas, and I'm not like a lot of archaeologists who want to push the number way back.
2 .So let's use a round number... and probably a safe number and say 11,000 years ago.
3 .The Clovis people were likely settling North America 11,000 years ago and leave it at that for now.
1 .Now, most of what we know about the Clovis people comes from one of their tools: the Clovis point.
2 .When we talk about a point we're referring to a piece of stone that's worked to a sharp point, in this case probably to be attached to a spear.
3 .The Clovis point may be the most analyzed artifact in archaeology.
4 .And the point used by Clovis people differs slightly from later points in the way that the base of the stone is thinned... uh, it's-it's thinner toward the base, the part that's attached to the spear.
5 .So when one is found, it's usually not confused with points made by later groups.
1 .Clovis points have been discovered at both hunting grounds and campsites... which you might expect.
2 .But another fascinating place we find them is in Clovis caches.
1 .A cache is just something stored or hidden away... it's also the term for the place where it's hidden.
2 .The Clovis caches are collections of tools- stone points and other tools made of stone or bone- often at various stages of manufacture... some were left unfinished.
3 .The traditional explanation is that these were emergency supplies, uh, meant to be used at a later time.
4 .Since the Clovis people were highly mobile, it's plausible that they would set up spots along established travel routes where they'd keep a variety of items, either so they wouldn't have to carry everything with them or so they could save time once they arrived at a site, by not having to make stuff from scratch.
1 .But there's another theory about the caches, based on the quality of some of the points we've found.
2 .Y'see, the points in some caches differ from other points... from points at Clovis campsites, for example.
3 .For one thing, these cache points are quite large, up to twice as large as regular points.
4 .So big that you couldn't attach one to a spear, say, and expect to throw the spear accurately over any distance.
5 .So what were they for?
1 .Well, it was originally thought that they were unfinished... that someone was working away at a point, then had to stop, and put it aside in one of these caches, to work on later.
2 .The problem is, it's unlikely that a point would've started out as large as the points in these caches. That would be a lot of stone to chip away.
3 .A toolmaker start with a smaller piece.
4 .And, actually, far from being unfinished, a lot of these points really show, uh, excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail.
5 .And not just with respect to the skill, but also with respect to the raw material- it seems the cached points are made from the very best pieces of stone.
1 .So we have to ask: could these points have served another purpose? Maybe they weren't just tools. Look at it this way.
2 .When the Clovis people first arrived in the Americas, they had a lot to learn about their new environment.
3 .Over time, they would have begun to recognize some places as special... important for some reason.
4 .Maybe there was always water available there, or the hunting was especially good.
5 .So-maybe the cache was a way to mark the place as significant.