Daily Archives: March 23, 2010

Yank that sucker out!

Mastodon rib from Manis site, showing protruding end of an intrusive object. Source: CSFA

The Manis Mastodon site near Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula (map) is one of the great enigmas of Northwest Coast archaeology.  The site has been known since the 1970s and is purportedly a Mastodon kill-butchery site.  With radiocarbon dates (on plant material associated with extinct mastodon) of 13,500 to 13,900 calendar years ago, the site is clearly pre-Clovis.  As a pre-Clovis site on the Northwest Coast, Manis  should be of comparable stature to, say, the Clovis-killer Monte Verde site in Chile, which dates to about 14,500 calendar years ago.

Doubts remain about this site, though, mainly because it is not yet completely reported.  A preliminary report by Gustafson et al. in the Canadian Journal of Archaeology (which I don’t have handy — hey CAA, I know you sell CDs of your back issues, so how hard can it be to put them online?) was equivocal about the association of some flake and cobble tools with the skeleton, and while interesting conclusions were drawn about the fragmentary nature of the skeleton, nothing conclusive was resolved.  This is despite one of the clearest possible “smoking guns” one could hope for in archaeology.

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