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Results of Previous Excavation at Jake Bluff

The Jake Bluff site was discovered in 1994 as a result of pedestrian survey associated with the investigation of the Folsom age Cooper site. This survey discovered bison bones eroding from the side of a modern arroyo only 400 meters upstream from the Cooper site. Initial testing of the bison bone exposure (Bement and Brosowske 1999) determined the bones lay on bedrock. Coring in the area identified a 3 meter deep arroyo on the east side of the bone exposure. The core removed a piece of bison bone from deep within this arroyo fill. A chert flake found in the bison bone pile provided evidence of human association and the site was recorded as 34HP60, the Jake Bluff site.

Figure 1. Plan Map and 3-D Views of Jake Bluff.

Excavations during 2001, 2002, and 2004 brought the total area investigated to 87 m (Figure 1). The block excavation on the gully rim revealed the butchered legs of at least three bison and the mandibles from a 3.3 year old bison bull. The blocks across the gully axis confirmed the existence of the paleogully and found bison bone at the bottom, including the mandible from a 4.3 year old bison cow. A radiocarbon assay of 10,750 +/- 40 rybp (CAMS 79940) on a tooth from the bottom of the central trench provided an initial age for the bison kill. The arroyo was found to extend for at least 20 meters and was surprisingly narrow, only 2 meters wide, appearing more like an eroded/incised animal trail. The bison remains in the bottom of the arroyo brought the gully floor MNI to 14 animals and preliminary analysis suggests the herd consisted of cows, calves, and juveniles. The eastern bedrock rim failed to yield a processing pile such as that seen on the western rim. However, the recovery of broken bones, resharpening flakes, cobble-size hammer stones, and one possible anvil stone indicates that processing activities once were present. The bone deposits in the bottom of the arroyo contained several resharpening flakes, additional cobble-size hammer stones, and three Clovis projectile points (Fig. 2).


Figure 2. Jake Bluff projectile points.

Two of the projectile points are made of Alibates agatized dolomite. The third is made of gray quartzite. All three display a single flute on each face. The points are different sizes (quartzite L=7.9 cm, W=3.4 cm, T=1.1 cm; Alibates L=5.2 cm, W=2.6 cm, T=0.74 cm; Alibates L=4.2 cm, W=1.75 cm, T=0.57 cm). Workmanship on all specimens is similar to other southern Plains Clovis (Hofman and Wyckoff 1991). Fine pressure retouch on the larger Alibates point is reminiscent of the workmanship on the Clovis points from the Domebo mammoth kill in central Oklahoma (Leonhardy 1966) and apparently also resembles specimens from the Mockingbird Gap site in New Mexico--an assemblage believed to fall intermediate between Clovis and Folsom (Meltzer pc; Weber and Agogino 1997; Stanford 1999). Basal characteristics place all points in the middle of the range of western Clovis points as discussed by Morrow and Morrow (2002).  The recovery of Clovis points in direct association with bison remains in the bottom of the arroyo indicates Jake Bluff is a Clovis bison kill site. The radiocarbon date of 10,750 +/- 40 rybp (CAMS 79940) suggests the site may post-date mammoth extinction. Amino acid analysis of two Jake Bluff petrous bones from the arroyo deposits showed them to be well preserved and the resultant radiocarbon ages of 10,840 +/- 45 and 10,700 +/- 45 rybp (CAMS 90968 and 90969 respectively) provide confirmation of the late age of this site.

Combining these two dates with the previous Jake Bluff date of 10,750 +/- 40 rybp (CAMS 79940) yielded a mean of 10,760 +/- 30 rybp (Long and Rippeteau 1974) for the deposits on the gully floor. Unfortunately, no dates could be obtained from the bison pile on the gully rim to provide a definite link with the bison remains on the gully floor nearly 2m below. In 2004, excavations targeted the gully floor deposits in the area where the steep nick point was expected. This area was also where the gully came closest to the bone deposit on the rim. A Folsom projectile point was uncovered at the edge of the bison pile on the rim, providing a cultural identification for that activity area. Detailed profile description of the gully deposits in this area identified a stratigraphic break in the fill sequence between the gully rim and floor deposits, thus suggesting the site contained stratified Clovis and Folsom deposits.   Limited excavation in an area 30 m east of the gully uncovered processed bison bone, burned flakes, and a hammerstone within deposits on top of a buried A horizon. Charcoal flecks within the paleosol yielded an age of 10, 070 +/- 50 rybp (Beta-194028) suggesting a late or post-Folsom age for the material. Based on these excavations, Jake Bluff has emerged as a stratified Paleoindian site containing discrete activity areas including a Clovis bison kill, Folsom bison processing area, and a possible late Folsom or post Folsom bison processing area.

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