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
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.
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.