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Prehistoric Cultural Changes and Chert Use
(Specific to Missouri and surrounding states.)
~ Article 101 ~

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Prehistoric Cultural Changes and Chert Use
(Specific to Missouri and surrounding states.)

by Don R. Dickson

This is the first in a series of short articles on the Native American cultures in the Missouri area.  This data applies to all surrounding states as well.  Although Pre-Clovis is a distinct possibility in Missouri, and the Big Eddy site (23CE426) may have known a Pre-Clovis occupation, evidence at this time for Pre-Clovis is inconclusive.  Clovis points have been found in Missouri, mostly along the Missouri River and north of it adjacent to the Mississippi River.  A few scattered finds have been reported in other counties.  The intensity of collecting activities may be relevant to the known pattern of Missouri Clovis finds.  Burlington chert seems to be the dominant lithic type involved on these Clovis sites.

Both mastodon and ground sloth, as well as other Pleistocene mammals, have been recovered from the Kimmswick bone bed south of St. Louis, MO.  Two short (probably reworked) Clovis points, one longer early state Clovis point and several fragments have been recovered from this site in work conducted since the early 1900's.  Only Juliet Morrow in her Doctoral Dissertation of May 1996 has attempted to identify the cherts involved.  One basal fragment is of Burlington chert, one resharpened biface is of Fern Glen Chert, one fragment is apparently of St. Genevieve chert and one is of a gray oolitic chert (probably Ordovician from the Jefferson City Formation or the Powell Formation.).  Oolitic chert is found in all Ordovician formations in Missouri, being especially common in the Cotter and Jefferson City Formations.

Until recently, Folsom points had not been reported from southwestern Missouri, although several had been found in central and northern parts of the state.  One this writer has seen was found while doing a survey along Highway 13 in Johnson County, Missouri was made from Burlington chert.  Two examples from southwestern Missouri were both made from local Reeds Spring chert.  A workman digging a ditch found a classic Folsom point in western Stone County.  It was made from Variety 5 Reeds Spring chert (my classification scheme).  A young collector recovered a second probable Folsom from a plowed field on Roaring River in Barry County, Missouri.  One of the tangs had been broken off, possibly by a plow, so the inexperienced collector picked up a rock and knocked off the other tang to "make it symmetrical."  Both points are quite well fluted.  This writer documented and illustrated these specimens and a St. Johns variety of the San Patrice (made of Reeds Spring chert) from the same area in Volume 16, Number 1 of the Missouri Archaeological Society Quarterly in 1999.  The San Patrice type was dated at the Big Eddy site at 10,185 (+/-75) years BP.  BP is "Before Present."  For the full account of this find and the resulting date, see Lopinot et al. in the report The 1997 Excavations at the Big Eddy Site (23CE426) in Southwest Missouri published by Southwest Missouri State University in 1998.

In conclusion, fluted points have been found throughout Missouri, but the chert types involved have not been identified in most situations.

Copyright December 2004 Don Dickson
Not to be reprinted or copied in any form without written permission from Don Dickson and/or Missouri Trading Company. 
All rights reserved.

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Page last updated March 16, 2008

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