folsom VS. clovis

Cannonman17

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I was just looking at some points, a clovis point in particular. It was a bit odd in the fact that the flute went a bit farther up the point than what we normally see. Then I started to think... this is where it gets strange- Now both Clovis and Folsom points have fairly close attributes... just some generalizations here but folsom points seem to be on average smaller and fluted the entire length of the point while the clovis seem to be larger on average anyways and only fluted 1/3 to 2/3 of the way on average. I used to do some flintknapping and after I got good enough at it I tried making some paleo points, some turned out and some didn't. One thing that I never mastered was the fluting- I did succeed on occasion but not consistantly. I often ended up with uncontrolled flutes.. sometimes very deep and short and sometimes long narrow and shallow... hard to get it just right. Soo.. after looking at some of these points and their over all shape and fluting characteristics and thinking about my own experiences flintknapping I started to wonder how different these two typologies are...They have both been dated to the paleo period.... both similar in form and function...... what are the chances that the folsom points are simply clovis points that have been re-worked a time or two? I'm wondering this because if you were to make a clovis and used it long enough so that it needed to be re-sharpened what would it end up looking like? I'm just wondering if you took your typical clovis form and shortened it by 1/3 and worked the outside edges in it would make the flute appear wider and had it gone the typical 2/3 up the original point re-working it / remvoing the top 1/3 would make the point look as though the flute went the entire length of the point...I know it might be a stretch but I think a re-worked or re-sharpened clovis point might pass as a folsom???
What do you guys think? I'm not looking to change the books I just thought it was an interesting thought worth sharing since I can't find any points to post as of late.. :)
 

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Atlantis0077

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Morning,

Interesting premise Cannonman. I have always felt there was much overlapping on point typology. Just as we have different fashions today that sweep across the country...I figure the Indians did the same....taking into account form and function.....different point types necessary for lance or arrow use. Folsom and Clovis are indeed similar and probably were made Indians of a similar time period. As for a Folsom being a re-worked Clovis...dunno there, perhaps in come cases.

A true Folsom point, to me at least, has two distinct differences from the Clovis...though the books indicate otherwise in some photos.....a messy thing those photos in books....have me scratching my head sometimes figuring where they are coming from......but I digress......A Clovis has the classic shape, by this I mean it is slightly wider toward the tip with a more narrow waist a half moon base with a deep rectangular flute about half the length up the point.....The Folsom point has less of a waistline, a more broad and larger flute many times covering the majority of the point, leaving only the edges flaked and a more square bottom with tines on both sides of the base giving it an almost incisor shape at the bottom....^---^ that would be the base looking up...lol

Personally I haven't found a Folsom point, but have seen at least one found in this area.....seems they are quite rare here, like the Clovis. Its a fine line to argue, so I wont.....I have always contended that most of the paleo stuff, even some early archaic, was made by the same people.....Folsom, Clovis, Dalton, Midland, Meserve, San Patrice etc....all are so close there there is hardly grounds to segregate them very much timewise.

Interesting point and one well worth researching more. Might change a few books yet.

Atlantis
 

badandy

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Great topic Cannonman! I haven't learned enough about paleo points yet to give an honest opinion, but I'm working on it. LOL! I know that several knappers have guessed that the fluting process was about at 45% failure rate, which if you had to have that point the eat was a bad number to have break. Still the ones that were successful, left us some awesome examples!
badandy
 

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Cannonman17

Cannonman17

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Jul 16, 2006
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Yeah, I hear what you're saying.. about the clovis folsom and the pictures in the book, I have been left scratching my head so many times that I'm going bald (not really but it fit). I guess it was just a passing idea that I thought hmmm... I harp on other people for always trying to slap a name on a point when I believe, like you mentioned, that there was a lot of over lap. I've always wanted to put together a picture collection/book/ID chart on possible transition points. Just as an example I have seen some points that were neither scottsbluff nor hardin barbed, a few of them I am pretty well convinced could be labeled "transitional" types. I think you may have even posted a similar point not long ago. To my knowledge (and I've been out of the field for a while now so I'm behind on things) there hasn't been much if any research done on tranitional typologies. The emphasis always seems to be put on associating a particular point with a known phase/culture.... hmm.. I would like your thoughts on that- I think an ID on transitional pieces would be both intensly interesting and helpful. Anyways... back to the thread. All I can say for sure about the clovis folsom is this. I have seen some Clovis points that if I resharpened them, would look like a folsom. As you pointed out the folsoms have wide flutes so that only the edges are worked. But if you completely re-worked an clovis that would include possilby the pressure flaking of the hafted areas also.. the end result could end up with the point being worked down in length and width so that it in fact looked like a folsom

Here's my horrible attempt to draw what I'm talking about
folsom on the left and clovis on the right.
red line represents what's left of clovis after two re-workings.. compare the outline after two re-workings with the folsom on the left... CRAZY I am I tell you CRAZY.
 

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Neanderthal

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While Clovis and Folsom both practiced fluting, they are made by two totally different techniques. Folsom is fluted by "Dome and Plane" technology, and Clovis appear to be fluted by several different methods. Typical Clovis manufacture has the flute as the last stage of manufacture. Folsomoid typically pressure flaked and retouch after the flute. That's why you can typically find folsomoid manufactured points with steep edge retouch around the flute, but won't on folsom. For instance Cumberland closely follows Folsomoid manufacturing techniques. Notice how the hafting area is recurved and flaked after the flute, etc, etc? The flaking itself differs also. Clovis were more random flaked with only minimal delta trimming, while Folsom typically had more finer flaking in first stages (take Lindenmier for example). Clovis not only ground the sides of the hafting area but often ground the blade face of the hafting area also, which is something you won't find as typical in Folsomoid manufacture. I stand firm that 75-80% of all proclaimed Clovis in collections aren't. Many are fake, but more often misidentified. There is a plethora of lanceolates out there that will mimic "Clovis" but aren't, the list is WAY too large. Also, just because a point has a large thinning strike from the base, doesn't make it a Clovis. It's not what somebody made that matters, it's what they were TRYING to make. For instance, if I find a point that a Dalton person messed up and it looks like a Clovis...is it Dalton or Clovis? Sometimes you can't differentiate, and we sure enough can't read their minds. Heres something to consider - While flutes are long basal thinning flakes, not all long basal thinning flakes are intentional flutes. Kinda like saying "Honda Accords are cars, but not all cars are Honda Accords".

Fun topic!
 

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Cannonman17

Cannonman17

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Hey- some good points and interesting. I would have to very much agree with it's not what they made but what they were tyring to make. Also learned some things about the manufacturing styles- Thanks! Almost against my nature to agree with everything a person says but I agree about a lot of clovis types being misidentified also.. I don't know about 80% but a lot I think. A lot of tranistional pieces seem to be neither one nor the other also.
 

Madmegreer77

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Mar 17, 2022
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Thus discussion doesn't cover how to tell the difference in them. So the two I posted here could both be Dalton? It's not the design it is the age
20220306_232322.jpg
 

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uniface

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FWIW, the problem Matt ("Neanderthal" here) pointed up is that "Clovis" is used as a generic term for a variety of fluted points in the east like Barnes, Gainey, Debert &c. that differ from the western Clovis somatotype.

Not only that, but there's never even been a firm consensus reached on exactly how many varieties exist and what these are (Ross County for one).

The grand, piled-higher-and-deepers have only had 75 years to sort these out, though. Such things take time -- despite establishing a standard nomenclature being job one in any discipline.
 

joshuaream

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I think a bit of the problem for the first 50 or so years is that everyone wanted to find Clovis. Calling something a Gainey was just a little less noteworthy.

FWIW, the problem Matt ("Neanderthal" here) pointed up is that "Clovis" is used as a generic term for a variety of fluted points in the east like Barnes, Gainey, Debert &c. that differ from the western Clovis somatotype.

Not only that, but there's never even been a firm consensus reached on exactly how many varieties exist and what these are (Ross County for one).

The grand, piled-higher-and-deepers have only had 75 years to sort these out, though. Such things take time -- despite establishing a standard nomenclature being job one in any discipline.
 

Older The Better

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I may be mistaken but I haven’t seen anyone mention the difference in time, when you’re talking 10,000 years ago a few hundred or so would seem insignificant but think of how different the world is from 300 years ago. As it is in my mind Folsom followed Clovis In time. To me, similar physical characteristics are trumped by their place In time…

You may be right in your observation, but a resharpened Clovis that looks like a Folsom would still be a Clovis. You would hope there would be context at the rest of the site to differentiate between the two but sometimes things are just murky.
 

uniface

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And to the extent that anybody here cares beside me (if there even is one), the procedural flaking differences between the various point types themselves will be only one element in a bigger, cultural picture.

Example: endscrapers. The Nobles Pond site produced a wheelbarrow load of them; all five Little River Complex sites together only a handfull. Different cultural inventories are reflections of different cultures. Getting a handle on these is the point of the exercise: the who more than the what.

FWIW
 

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