Cache of projectile points reflects area’s distant past


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A cache of projectile points and the blank rocks from which more could be made, was found in West Lubbock County about 20 years ago, and now the contents are stored in the Museum of Texas Tech. 

[Credit: LubbockOnline]

According to Eileen Johnson, executive director of the museum, the type of rocks that were used to make the points is not ordinarily found in the Lubbock area. 

“They are all chert,” she said. 

Archaeologists suspect they may have been carried into this area, then hidden until needed later. 

Walter “Sonny” Lupton, who has an interest in archaeology, remembers he was looking over a field about four miles southwest of Shallowater when he saw the first rocks that now make up part of the museum collection. 

“I just saw a few pieces like the blanks in a small gully,” he said. “I picked them up, threw them in the floorboard of a tractor, and hauled them around for a week. Then I decided to go back and look again, and found a few more. 

The archaeological find was named Ryan Site for Lupton’s son, who helped uncover the artifacts during three summers of digging. 

Johnson estimates the age of the points and blanks at 10,000 years. 

She said, “Good stone material is very hard to find in this area.” 

The rocks from which the points were made apparently came from Central Texas or from the Amarillo area where the Alibates Quarry is located. 

Because the rocks had to be brought from such long distances, they must have been a prized possession. 

Lupton said, “It was like gold, and I imagine it could be traded like gold.” 

Johnson agrees: “It was certainly the currency of the day.” 

The stone weapons were made by a culture known as Plainview, named for the city of Plainview where the particular style was first discovered in 1945. 

[Credit: LubbockOnline]

“The Plainview culture, we now know, dates to about 10,000 years ago. At that time, the maritime climate was changing to the more continental climate that we see today,” Johnson said. 

“So, it still would have been fairly lush grasslands. But all of the exotic fauna that we think about — mammoths, camels, bears — they’re all extinct. The big animals that made it through that extinction filter are the ancient bison,” she said. 

“The Plainview peoples that we call a culture, were hunting now-extinct bison with these points. And this is the only known Plainview cache — the only one. It is significant for that, but it also is very significant because it provides us the technological information on how they went about making these points,” Johnson said. 

Core samples of the spot where the rocks were found indicate an ancient playa lake was there. It is gone now, and all the points and blanks that could be found have been removed, too. The land is now a plowed field. 

Lupton’s find included a large number of the blank rocks, a few points that were at a midway point in being worked into a spear, and some that were ready for the Indians’ arsenal. 

Johnson said, “This cache tells us they made the points both from bifacial blanks and from some of the very big flakes. So, they had two different ways — and that really conserves the raw materials.” 

Some of the raw material was made into what possibly was a knife with sharp edges. 

Lupton said, “What interested me is how much work has been done on every stone — you can tell they have been picked up by some man, used, and retooled.” 

Johnson said, “You can look at it in terms of the original conservation and recycling of resources here. Even if he just went to Alibates in the Amarillo area, walking from here, that’s a great effort, much less Central Texas. 

“So, they knew this is what they had to work with. They had to conserve it. They had to use it for as many purposes as possible.” 

[Credit: LubbockOnline]

According to Johnson, the Plainview culture implies a regional expression. “Before that time period — the Clovis people, the Folsom people — they are basically all throughout North America. But around 10,000, we get this real distinct regionalization. And Plainview is one of those first cultures that really just occupy a region — where they lived and where they stayed. We don’t know the exact boundaries of how big it might have been, although it was most of the Southern Plains. 

“When you talk about the Southern Plains versus North America, that’s regionalization.” 

She added, “Another thing that is very interesting — and particularly for this area — is that the Plainview culture is named after the city of Plainview because that’s where this style of projectile point was first found. 

“Also there is the Clovis culture, which is named after the town of Clovis where it was first discovered. 

“At 10,000 years ago, the same time as the Plainview peoples, we also have Lubbock. And that is a point style obviously named after the city of Lubbock.” 

Possibly there could have been a kind of simultaneous settling of the Southern Plains that paralleled the spontaneous settling of this area by the pioneers in recent history. 

A lot of people in ancient and recent history must have recognized that it was a good place to make a living — one with spear points and walking shoes, and another with six-guns and plows. 

Source: Lubbock Online [September 11, 2011]



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