Clovis People: The Lost Ancient Societies of North America (2022)


At the end of the last ice age, North America was the stage of a great mystery. Ancient societies that lived on the land for a short, yet significant period, vanished from the face of the earth. They left behind the faint footprints of culture and knowledge that are unique, and with no direct trace of where it came from. Who were the Clovis People? And what caused them to disappear?

Lost civilizations are embedded in the human psyche and story. It’s not commonly known, however, that North America was home to an ancient society of people lost to the record books. Archaeologists are now uncovering the story of the Clovis People.

At the border of the last Ice Age, the ancient Clovis society lived over much of the North American continent. Then they suddenly vanished.

Their remains can be identified through their unique spear points. They are found all over North America for 800 years, before fading from the fossil record. Today, it’s a mystery as to what happened to the Clovis People.

While baffling scientists, the Clovis People are an ancient society that could unearth an entire missing piece of the human origin story.

Who were the Clovis People?

In 1932 the first excavated remains of the Clovis people were discovered. The evidence was a set of uniquely crafted spear points which have now been found in over 1500 locations across North America.

The initial finds were in Clovis, New Mexico, where the Culture derives their name. Since then their fingerprints have been found all over the continent of North America (in every state except for Hawaii).

Their rapid spread is an impressive clue of a vast ancient society. They lived over large distances in relatively short amounts of time in an occupation spanning less than 1000 years.

Clovis People: The Lost Ancient Societies of North America (1)

(Video) A Mysterious Civilization Prior To Documented History... Who Were They?

The spear points of the Clovis people. A lost ancient society of North America.

The strange beginning and end of the Clovis People

New theories are re-defining when North American Paleo-Indians migrated out of Western Alaska. It happened between c. 40,000– c. 16,500years. Until very recently, it was thought that the Clovis were the first. However, there is evidence of people in North America before them.

Signs of the Clovis culture can be dated to the Americas at around 13,500 years ago. This is the border of the last ice age. As this predates written writing, the only way to identify them is by what they left behind.

Records show the Clovis Culture appear, seemingly out of nowhere and quickly spread across the continent. The remains show up within an 800-year period. It is still unclear who they were and where they came from.

Then, 12,800 years ago the Clovis People of North America suddenly disappeared.

They came, they spread, they vanished.

A thriving North American ancient society

The that the Clovis thrived from the time of their arrival could be evidence of culture beyond hunter-gathering. Their skills were very adaptive to a difficult North American environment. They lived alongside the largest number of megafauna species on the planet at the time.

Evidence has been found of campsites and stone quarries, mined for generations. These were people with ingenious adaption, but also the signs of the first civilized society.

These include:

Early evidence of sedentary dwelling

The swift expanse of the Clovis people showed they were adept at finding food sources. Analysis of spear points reveal the types of animals they hunted. Although they were found in and around mammoth remains, they preferred hunting turtles.

As a species that live for a year without food, keeping turtles could have been a way of reducing nomadic hunting needs. These could be traits of a herder-gatherer society.

(Video) The Clovis Culture

Ancient technology

The Clovis spears were extremely important to the culture. There is evidence they traveled for hundreds of miles just to find specific materials to carve spear points from.

It is as if the spears were a rite of passage for the culture; not only are Clovis points extremely difficult to carve, they are easily chipped and broken while trying to do so.

They used a technology called ‘overshot flaking’ (bifacial thinning) to create them. It’s the only culture so far in North America to have been found to adopt this technology, and one of the few in the entire world.

Culture and religion

Evidence has also been uncovered of ceremonial and society-like culture. Spear points have been often found with red ochre decorating them.

The remains of only one person of the Clovis culture has been found. His name is Anzick-1 a toddler found in a grave would become dated to 12,600 years ago. He was laid to rest surrounded by at least 100 stone tools, and 15 ivory ones. Some of these were covered in red ochre, and together they suggest Anzick was a very special child who had been ceremonially buried in splendor.

It represents non-hunter gatherer behavior, and perhaps a belief system in the culture existed. These are further evidence of an ancient society.

Where did they come from?

Another unanswered question regarding the Clovis Culture is how they first arrived in North America 13,500 years ago. The dominant theory for the past century is they came on foot from Siberia, and in doing so were the first to populate the Americas.

This hypothetical journey would have taken them into Alaska through the Bering Strait. It would not be possible to do today, however, 13,500 years ago sea levels were 400 feet lower, meaning vast expanses of land would have been exposed.

This path would have led them through the ice-free corridor of North America, which was a road between the two great ice sheets. However, no Clovis points have ever been found in Siberia. Older remains of non-Clovis people have been found across the Americas. These suggest that there was more than one passage to the continent.

If the Clovis people took the land bridge, the evidence should suggest this progression. The oldest Clovis tools are not on the Great Plains, or in the Great Basin or Southwest of the U.S. These places would explain a trickle in from Siberia. Instead, older Clovis remains are found in the eastern and southeastern regions of the U.S.

It’s possible that Ice Age Europeans may have crossed into North America by boats, hugging the edges of the great ice sheets that stretched from Greenland westward to what is now upstate New York.

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This theory links the Clovis to similar spearheads found on the Iberian Peninsula and France.

If they had of arrived by boat, it would pre-date Columbus’s journey across the Ocean by over 10 000 years.

What happened to the Clovis People?

Another big question is why the Clovis suddenly seem to ‘vanish’ from the record.

Evidence of campsites that were abandoned at the exact same time are found across the country. Archaeologists have also found evidence of stone quarries that were mined for generations entirely left in this exact period.

These are various clues that point to the Clovis’ rapid extinction. It corresponds to a significant event in earth’s history.

Geological evidence of this prehistoric period, coincide to a period roughly 12, 800 years ago. It is the beginning of what is known as the Younger Dryas period as the earth transitioned from the last ice age. In this time the planet, which had been heating for around 6000 years, was plunged back into ice age conditions.

Extreme weather conditions reveal that North America experienced cataclysmic like conditions during this period. Periods of disaster like climate change, global sea rises of almost 400 feet, and the North American ice sheet vanished in an instant.

Evidence of catastrophic flooding now exists that swept across vast parts of North America. Geological scars can be observed right across the land. Recently, the recording of a ‘black mat layer,’ show that destructive wildfires spread across North America, as well as the globe.

The Clovis people weren’t the only living creatures to disappear. It was a period that saw the extinction of nearly 120 species of megafauna that once dominated the North American landscape.

Whatever caused these events were violent enough to kill all of the Clovis instantly.

Many theories are trying to explain why all of this occurred. The disaster-like scenario is supported by the 500-year fossil gap until the next culture emerges.

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Conclusion: A missing piece in American History

The Clovis people had a rapid emergence and even faster disappearance. Many theories are actively trying to explain this archaeological mystery; none are agreed upon.

With only fossils and carved spear points to turn to, the Clovis Culture may never be fully understood. Yet, as the context of prehistory continues to be discovered, a better idea of the conditions around the planet is beginning to emerge.

By combining geological evidence to the Clovis people’s story, we could see a new chapter added to American history books.

Now it’s up to you.

Why do you think the Clovis people suddenly vanished?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

About the Author(s)

The Human Origin Project

http://humanoriginproject.com

(Video) Proof that Humans WERE in the Americas 30,000 Years Ago | Clovis NOT First

We are a media platform blending modern science with ancient legacy to untie the biggest mysteries known to man. Through vigorous research, cross-disciplinary analysis, and traditional practices our community is creating the most progressive conversation on planet earth.

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FAQs

What happened to the Clovis people in North America? ›

In addition to discovering Clovis people in South America, researchers also found that these people disappeared from the continent about 9,000 years ago, and were replaced by people with different genetic ancestry.

What were the Clovis people noted for? ›

The Clovis people, known for their distinctive spearheads, were not the first humans to set foot in the Americas after all. The so-called Clovis people, known for their distinctive spearheads, were not the first humans to set foot in the Americas after all, a new study says.

What are Clovis points and why are they important in the study of ancient peoples of the Americas? ›

Over most of North America, 12,000 to 13,000 years ago, ancestral Indigenous people were making distinctive fluted projectile points known as “Clovis points.” Clovis points are easily recognized because of their large size, their exquisite craftsmanship, and the beautiful stones toolmakers chose for them.

Where did the Clovis people go? ›

Clovis sites have since been identified throughout much of the contiguous United States, as well as in Mexico and parts of Central America, and even into northern South America.

Which statement best explains why the Clovis people disappeared? ›

Which statement best explains why the Clovis people disappeared? They overhunted the big animals that were their food source.

How did the Clovis people go extinct? ›

They are called Clovis points. These spear tips were used to hunt large game. The period of the Clovis people coincides with the extinction of mammoths, giant sloth, camels and giant bison in North America. The extinction of these animals was caused by a combination of human hunting and climate change.

What is Clovis First theory? ›

The Clovis First hypothesis states that no humans existed in the Americas prior to Clovis, which dates from 13,000 years ago, and that the distinct Clovis lithic technology is the mother technology of all other stone artifact types later occurring in the New World.

Where are most Clovis points found? ›

Hundreds of Clovis points have been found across Ohio, but most of them were found in the major river valleys of central Ohio with very few in the southeastern corner of the state.

When did the Clovis people come to America? ›

In Brief. For decades archaeologists thought the first Americans were the Clovis people, who were said to have reached the New World some 13,000 years ago from northern Asia.

Why are they called Clovis points? ›

Clovis points date to the Early Paleoindian period, with all known points dating from roughly 13,500 to 12,800 years ago. Clovis fluted points are named after the city of Clovis, New Mexico, where examples were first found in 1929 by Ridgely Whiteman.

Who was in America before the Clovis? ›

A team of international researchers has found that modern-day humans entered North America as part of a single migration wave no earlier than 23,000 years ago. Artifacts recovered from the 15,000 year-old campsite at the Friedkin site near Austin, Texas.

How many Clovis points have been found? ›

Clovis Spear Points

More than 10,000 Clovis points have now been found in North America from southern Canada to Central America, all dating from the same time. The oldest points, found in Texas, date to 13,500 years ago, while points found northern Mexico are approx. 13,390 years old.

Who was the first people in America? ›

In the 1970s, college students in archaeology such as myself learned that the first human beings to arrive in North America had come over a land bridge from Asia and Siberia approximately 13,000 to 13,500 years ago. These people, the first North Americans, were known collectively as Clovis people.

What are Clovis tools? ›

The Clovis culture is a prehistoric culture named for distinct stone tools – found near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1920s and 1930s – including scrapers, drills, blades, and distinctive leaf-shaped, fluted spear points called Clovis points. EarthSky lunar calendars are back in stock!

Did the Clovis people come from Europe? ›

In “Across Atlantic Ice,” the authors trace the origins of Clovis culture from the Solutrean people, who occupied northern Spain and France more than 20,000 years ago. They believe that these people went on to populate America's east coast, eventually spreading at least as far as Venezuela in South America.

Which of the following best describes the area where Clovis sites have been found? ›

Which of the following best describes the area where Clovis sites have been found? D. From southern Canada to northern Mexico.

How did Clovis people migrate? ›

Scientists believe that the people who spread the Clovis culture descended from migrants from Asia who crossed the Bering Land Bridge to North America.

How do we use artifacts to learn about early people and cultures? ›

Archaeologists use artifacts and features to learn how people lived in specific times and places. They want to know what these people's daily lives were like, how they were governed, how they interacted with each other, and what they believed and valued.

How do I check my Clovis points? ›

Clovis points are wholly distinctive. Chipped from jasper, chert, obsidian and other fine, brittle stone, they have a lance-shaped tip and (sometimes) wickedly sharp edges. Extending from the base toward the tips are shallow, concave grooves called “flutes” that may have helped the points be inserted into spear shafts.

Who were the first Native Americans? ›

The earliest ancestors of Native Americans are known as Paleo-Indians. They shared certain cultural traits with their Asian contemporaries, such as the use of fire and domesticated dogs; they do not seem to have used other Old World technologies such as grazing animals, domesticated plants, and the wheel.

Where did Native Americans come from? ›

The ancestors of living Native Americans arrived in what is now the United States at least 15,000 years ago, possibly much earlier, from Asia via Beringia. A vast variety of peoples, societies and cultures subsequently developed.

What is the problem with the Clovis First theory? ›

The most contentious issue in American archaeology is the so-called Clovis orthodoxy or Clovis first theory. The argument went that humans could not have come into America before the Clovis points made their appearance because the way through was blocked by ice.

How did ancient American Indian cultures use Clovis and Folsom points? ›

Ancient Bison Drawing

Points were usually fastened to a short foreshaft, and then that foreshaft was inserted into the body of the lance. When they were hunting big game like the mammoth, Clovis and Folsom people would probably thrust the weapon into the animal, breaking off the foreshaft.

Where did the first peoples to the Americas come from quizlet? ›

Where and why did the First Americans come to America? Came from Asia, following the animal herbs, climate drove them, vegetation.

Why are Clovis points so rare? ›

Why are Clovis Points so Rare? Clovis points are prehistoric arrowheads making them much harder to find than other arrowheads made only a couple of centuries ago. There are only approximately 10,000 Clovis points, making them an extremely rare find. Clovis arrowheads are one of the oldest stones projectile point types.

Who created the Clovis point? ›

The Clovis people invented the "Clovis point," a spear-shaped weapon made of stone that is found in Texas and parts of the United States and northern Mexico and the weapons were made to hunt animals, including mammoths and mastodons, from 13,000 to 12,700 years ago.

Is it illegal to pick up arrowheads? ›

It is illegal and unethical to collect artifacts on public lands. Artifacts include anything made or used by humans including arrowheads and flakes, pottery, basketry, rock art, bottles, coins, metal pieces, and even old cans. Collecting artifacts disrupts the archaeological record.

How did the first people come to America? ›

People travelled by boat to North America some 30,000 years ago, at a time when giant animals still roamed the continent and long before it was thought the earliest arrivals had made the crossing from Asia, archaeological research reveals today.

Who were the first settlers in North America and where did they come from? ›

The Age of Discovery

But the very first people to ever settle on American land weren't from Europe. It's widely accepted that the first settlers were hunter-gatherers that came to North America from the North Asia Mammoth steppe via the Bering land bridge.

Why did people come to America? ›

Colonists came to America because they wanted political liberty. They wanted religious freedom and economic opportunity. The United States is a country where individual rights and self-government are important.

What were the characteristics of the Clovis culture and the Folsom tradition? ›

Clovis and Folsom were hunting-and-gathering cultures; although both groups were fairly generalized foragers, Clovis people seemed to have preferred to eat Pleistocene megafauna such as mammoths, while Folsom people seem to have preferred an extinct species of giant bison.

What is a Clovis arrowhead look like? ›

Clovis arrowheads have concave base and convex sides. The broadest areas for Clovis arrowheads are situated either in the near midsection or toward the base of the point. Clovis arrowheads are usually crafted out of stone or chert. Clovis arrowheads have typical slender blades and have parallel curved edges.

How thick are Clovis points? ›

Clovis point out of gray (10YR5/1) chert with light gray (10YR7/1) fossil inclusions. Weight 8.6 grams. Maximum thickness = 6.3 mm. 6.

Who found America? ›

Explorer Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) is known for his 1492 'discovery' of the New World of the Americas on board his ship Santa Maria.

When did humans first come to North America? ›

The emerging picture suggests that humans may have arrived in North America at least 20,000 years ago—some 5,000 years earlier than has been commonly believed.

How did Indians get to America? ›

Scientists have found that Native American populations - from Canada to the southern tip of Chile - arose from at least three migrations, with the majority descended entirely from a single group of First American migrants that crossed over through Beringia, a land bridge between Asia and America that existed during the ...

Did the Clovis people live in Ohio? ›

9500 B.C. to 8000 B.C.

Archaeologists have found Clovis points from Alaska to northern Mexico and from California to Maine. They are especially common in Ohio and other eastern states. Radiocarbon dates on Clovis sites across North America indicate these people lived between 9500 to 8000 B.C.

What are pre Clovis sites? ›

Updated on August 08, 2018. The Pre-Clovis culture, also spelled Preclovis and sometimes PreClovis, is the name given by archaeologists to the people who colonized the American continents before the Clovis big-game hunters.

Who lived in America before the natives? ›

The earliest populations in the Americas, before roughly 10,000 years ago, are known as Paleo-Indians.

What was the name of America before it was called America? ›

Before that time, there was no name that collectively identified the Western Hemisphere. The earlier Spanish explorers referred to the area as the Indies believing, as did Columbus, that it was a part of eastern Asia.

What is the oldest Native American tribe? ›

The Hopi Indians are the oldest Native American tribe in the World.

Where did Clovis people live? ›

Clovis sites have been identified throughout the contiguous United States, as well as in Mexico and Central America. The Clovis, widely believed to have been mammoth hunters, likely arrived via the Bering land bridge that once linked Asia and Alaska. They then spread rapidly southward.

Why is Clovis culture important? ›

After the discovery of several Clovis sites in eastern North America in the 1930s, the Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants who created a widespread culture in the Americas, and the ancestors of most of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

How long did the Clovis culture last? ›

Evidence of the Clovis culture can be found across nearly all of North America from 12,000-11,000 years BP (before present). That's roughly 10,000-9,000 BCE, although most archaeologists agree that the Clovis culture was really dominant for only 400-600 years during that time frame.

What happened to Clovis people? ›

In addition to discovering Clovis people in South America, researchers also found that these people disappeared from the continent about 9,000 years ago, and were replaced by people with different genetic ancestry.

Which statement best explains why the Clovis people disappeared? ›

Which statement best explains why the Clovis people disappeared? They overhunted the big animals that were their food source.

Which was a characteristic of the Clovis culture? ›

The Clovis culture takes its name from the town in New Mexico, where the striking stone projectile point characteristic of the tradition was first found. It's distinctive characteristics include a central groove, or flute, along both of its faces and finely worked edges.

Who was in America before the Clovis? ›

A team of international researchers has found that modern-day humans entered North America as part of a single migration wave no earlier than 23,000 years ago. Artifacts recovered from the 15,000 year-old campsite at the Friedkin site near Austin, Texas.

Who were the first people in North America? ›

In the 1970s, college students in archaeology such as myself learned that the first human beings to arrive in North America had come over a land bridge from Asia and Siberia approximately 13,000 to 13,500 years ago. These people, the first North Americans, were known collectively as Clovis people.

What did Clovis people eat? ›

The ancient Clovis people were food opportunists that depended on gathering the edible seeds, nuts, and roots of plants, fishing, and hunting small mammals for sustenance as well as taking down some of the larger animals.

How many Clovis points have been found? ›

More than 10,000 Clovis points have been discovered, scattered in 1,500 locations throughout most of North America; Clovis points, or something similar, have turned up as far south as Venezuela.

Who came to America first? ›

Five hundred years before Columbus, a daring band of Vikings led by Leif Eriksson set foot in North America and established a settlement. And long before that, some scholars say, the Americas seem to have been visited by seafaring travelers from China, and possibly by visitors from Africa and even Ice Age Europe.

Where did pre Clovis people come from? ›

Where these pre-Clovis populations may have originated is also unknown. According to current hypotheses, the northeastern Asian genetic population that contributed to the dispersal to eastern Beringia, 12 and subsequently North America, were likely present in southern Beringia during the Last Glacial Maximum, ca.

Where did the first Americans come from? ›

Scientists generally agree that the first Americans crossed over from Asia via the Bering land bridge, which connected the two continents. This exodus most likely began between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. But some researchers have argued that Alaskan glaciers would have blocked entry into North America.

Who was first human? ›

The First Humans

One of the earliest known humans is Homo habilis, or “handy man,” who lived about 2.4 million to 1.4 million years ago in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Who founded America? ›

Explorer Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) is known for his 1492 'discovery' of the New World of the Americas on board his ship Santa Maria.

Who lived in the US first? ›

Up until the 1970s, these first Americans had a name: the Clovis peoples. They get their name from an ancient settlement discovered near Clovis, New Mexico, dated to over 11,000 years ago. And DNA suggests they are the direct ancestors of nearly 80 percent of all indigenous people in the Americas.

What are Clovis tools? ›

The Clovis culture is a prehistoric culture named for distinct stone tools – found near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1920s and 1930s – including scrapers, drills, blades, and distinctive leaf-shaped, fluted spear points called Clovis points. EarthSky lunar calendars are back in stock!

What is Clovis theory? ›

The Clovis First hypothesis states that no humans existed in the Americas prior to Clovis, which dates from 13,000 years ago, and that the distinct Clovis lithic technology is the mother technology of all other stone artifact types later occurring in the New World.

How did Clovis people migrate? ›

Scientists believe that the people who spread the Clovis culture descended from migrants from Asia who crossed the Bering Land Bridge to North America.

Where are most Clovis points found? ›

Hundreds of Clovis points have been found across Ohio, but most of them were found in the major river valleys of central Ohio with very few in the southeastern corner of the state.

How can you tell a Clovis point? ›

Identification. A typical Clovis point is a medium to large lanceolate point―a narrow oval shape, tapering to a point at each end. The sides of the point are parallel to the convex, and display careful pressure flaking along the blade's edge.

Why are Clovis points so rare? ›

Why are Clovis Points so Rare? Clovis points are prehistoric arrowheads making them much harder to find than other arrowheads made only a couple of centuries ago. There are only approximately 10,000 Clovis points, making them an extremely rare find. Clovis arrowheads are one of the oldest stones projectile point types.

Videos

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