In the early 1930’s gravel pit excavations at Blackwater Draw, near Clovis, New Mexico, uncovered skeletal remains of butchered mammoths. Found in association with the remains were distinctive fluted stone spear points. Later radiocarbon dating of the site produced dates between 10,900 and 11,500 BP (before present). The archaeological community has embraced this type of mammoth kill site as the oldest clear evidence of human occupation of the New World, and used it as a yardstick by which all other early Paleo-Indian sites are judged. For varied reasons, this time-line has resulted in a barrier that until recently has remained unbroken.
In 1990, an avocational archaeologist Dave Wasion was volunteering for the Kenosha Public Museum. Sent to the Kenosha Historical Society Museum to do archival work, he was shown mammoth bones accidentally recovered in the 1920’s and 1930’s in Kenosha Co. He immediately noticed what appeared to be cut marks on the bones. He reported this observation to Kenosha Public Museum curator, Dan Joyce, who agreed that the cut marks did not appear to be the result of carnivore, excavation, or curation damage. The type and position of the cut marks and compression features more closely resemble the use of stone tools to remove flesh from bone and wedges to disarticulate bone. Mr. Joyce’s experience in working at the Blackwater Draw (Clovis type site) Museum and serving as a field director of excavations at the Clovis site, served him well in recognizing cut marks and differentiating them from other post-depositional processes.
This discovery led Joyce and Wasion to look at the Schaefer Mammoth bone on exhibit at the Kenosha Public Museum. This bone, discovered in 1964 during a tiling operation, showed less definitive cut marks. Intrigued by these discoveries, Joyce and Wasion asked, Dave Overstreet (Great Lakes Archaeological Research Center) to assess the cut marks. He agreed with Joyce and Wasion's conclusions. Further research by Joyce and Wasion narrowed down the locations where these three sets of bones were first discovered. A map, produced by a local amateur archaeologist Phil Sander in 1964 pinpointed the Schaefer Mammoth. Mr. Joyce secured a donation agreement from Franklin Schaefer, and permission to excavate. A Survey and Planning Grant was written by Joyce and Overstreet to fund the excavation. Additional funding was provided by the Kenosha Public Museum.
©2000 - 2004 Butterbrodt/Joyce
All information and photographs copyrighted - illegal to copy
All information and photographs copyrighted - illegal to copy without permission.