Field Trip to San Pedro Valley Clovis Sites

On Saturday, November 4, the VancesHaynes and Holliday—and Jesse Ballenger (Ph.D. Arizona, 2010) led fourteen members of the Torrance County (New Mexico) Archaeological Society on a day-long trip to visit the Clovis sites of the San Pedro Valley. We met Sharon Hanna, the leader of the TCAS group, at the Murray Springs Clovis site at about 9:30 a.m. and toured all of the site’s activity areas the rest of the morning.

At the discovery site (Areas 2 and 3), we described the two mammoth skeletons and the artifacts associated with them, which included three Clovis points, a Clovis blade, a backed knife, and hundreds of flakes where stone tools had been manufactured and/or sharpened. About twelve feet below the modern surface all of the Clovis occupation surface was covered by the ten-centimeter thick black mat (stratum F2), which preserved the site and facilitated excavation because of its crumbly nature, and made removal by trowel easy.

At the bison kill area (Areas 4 and 5), we pointed out that the skeletons of a dozen bison were associated with Clovis points, stone tools, and concentrations of flakes where tools had been sharpened, some around a hearth with charcoal that dated to about 13,000 years ago.

A Clovis camp site was described as extending from the kill areas 160 meters to the south and included dozens of Clovis tools, including two Clovis point fragments that matched impact flakes from the bison kill area. We also pointed to the Escapule two miles to the southeast, where two Clovis points were found by Louis and Jackie Escapule of Tombstone in 1967.

The group had many significant questions that we answered as best we could before going to the San Pedro House for a picnic lunch. Unfortunately, the San Pedro House was closed that day, so the Friends of the San Pedro River, who operate the museum, gift shop, and book store, lost a chance to sell several copies of the UA Press book on the Murray Springs site. From here we drove about ten miles south to the Lehner Clovis site monument where, while overlooking the site area, we explained Emil Haury and William Wasley’s findings there in 1955–1956. Thirteen Clovis points and eight tools were found associated with bones of nine mammoths. Here is where pioneer geoarchaeologist Ernst Antevs worked out the geochronology of the Pleistocene-Holocene transition from the site’s stratigraphy. Renewed excavations in 1974–1975 and 1982 revealed four more mammoths as well as a camel skeleton.

From Lehner, we drove about 15 miles eastward to Naco, Arizona, where in 1952 the Navarrete father and son team discovered the Naco Clovis site, which consisted of the essentially complete skeleton of a mammoth with eight Clovis points, five within the rib cage. There were no other tools or flakes. This Clovis site, the first to be discovered west of the Continental Divide, may be one where a mammoth got away from the Clovis hunters only to die later. Elsewhere, there are no mammoth kills with any more than two Clovis points, and these are usually damaged, whereas all eight Naco Clovis points are complete, undamaged, and therefore functional with no need of repair. So why were they left with the mammoth?

Several years ago, uphill from the Clovis mammoth, Jess Ballenger discovered several typical Paleoindian scrapers eroding out of the hillside. Is this find related to the Clovis mammoth kills in Greenbush Draw? We hope to find out some day.

We also pointed out that in 1964 Slim Leikem, a local from between Naco and Bisbee, discovered mammoth bones in Greenbush Draw about a half mile upstream of the Naco Site. Skeletal remains of two mammoths were represented and a Clovis point was found in back dirt from a backhoe trench that exposed the most complete skeleton. And in 1973 Bruce Huckell excavated more mammoth skeletal remains with a slotted bone artifact that had been discovered by Marc Navarrete 50 meters from the original Naco site towards the Leikem site. Ballenger’s finding could be related to the Navarrete site.

A November 20 letter from Sharon Hanna stated that “those who were on the trip were euphoric about the good time they had,” and what they learned.

Pictured, back row, left to right:
1.    Vance T. Holliday
2.    Sharon Hanna
3.    Vance Haynes
4.    Diane Courtney
5.    Bob Berglund
6.    Rick Koll
7.    Cathy Lynch
8.    Bill Simms
9.    Barbara Simms
10.    Lucy Berglund
11.    Jean Merritt
12.    Leslie Chavez
13.    Jerry Chavez
14.    Idell Conaway

Front row, left to right:
1.    Murt Sullivan
2.    Nadine Luna
3.    Jesse Ballenger