Radiocarbon dating failures

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In the early 1950s, findings from Kincaid Shelter were showcased in what became a longstanding exhibit at the Texas Memorial Museum in Austin.Along with a selection of artifacts, a section of the ancient stone pavement was recreated and displayed.Collins also interviewed longtime friend and mentor Glen Evans, who had excavated the site in 1948, "picking his brain" for recollections about other artifacts, such as long thin, Clovis blades—another distinctive Clovis signature—which might not have been collected at the time.(During the 1940s and 1950s, it was not standard procedure to collect all lithic materials found during archeological excavations.) Evans was certain there had been no thin blades in Zone 4.

The chert-working evidence suggests a Clovis habitation.

Although bones of megafauna, such as mammoth, bison, and horse, were found in Zone 4, the identification of smaller species, such as turtle and alligator, supports new viewpoints about a broad-spectrum Clovis diet. The handful of artifacts from Zone 4 and the reworked projectile point from disturbed fill was not sufficient evidence at the time to totally convince other archeologists that the deposit could be attributed to Clovis peoples.

Turtle, in particular, has been found in numerous Clovis sites. But there was no other evidence, such as a radiocarbon date for the deposit, to strengthen the case.

As opposed to evidence of habitation, the five virtually unbroken Folsom points from the site are more characteristic of a kill sites. The small, expended Kincaid specimen (d), lower right, is not easily recognizable as such, and is dwarfed by the more classic examples (a-c) from other sites.

Drawing by Pam Headrick featured in Clovis Blade Technology by Michael Collins (1999, UT Press, Austin). The plastron, or bottom plate of a turtle (Terapene carolinus), found in Zone 4.

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