Collection Description

Tradition Name

Late Paleo-Indian

Tradition Description

The Late Paleoindian tradition is found in the unglaciated regions of North America from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast and from the Arctic south into the tropical latitudes of Mesoamerica. It occurred from around 11,000 to 6000 BP, generally ending later in the more northern latitudes. This was a time of rapidly changing climate and environment. The people were nomadic hunters and gatherers with an economy emphasizing big game hunting, but including a mix of smaller game and collected plant foods. People lived in small bands, perhaps in recognized territories as seen in the many distinctive projectile point types. Site types include base camps, hunting and butchering stations, and stone tool manufacturing sites.


Select the Tradition Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --General North America




United States

OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF Archaeology collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Late Paleoindian collection discuss the Late Paleoindian tradition in the unglaciated regions of the United States from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic coast and south into Florida. It occurred from around 11,000 BP to 6,000 BP, depending on the region.

Readers will find there is some overlap in time periods and material culture between the various Paleoindian and Early Archaic traditions. This is especially true within documents as many authors discuss the changes from the initial colonization of the Americas to the Middle Archaic period. Although each collection is marked for OCM (Outline of Cultural Materials) codes that pertain only to its own time period and location, readers are encouraged to examine the documents in the other collections for additional information. In particular the reader is directed to the following archaeological traditions: Paleo-Arctic (ND60), Late Tundra (NA45), Eastern Early Archaic (NN45), and Early Desert Archaic (NT50).

Anderson and Sassaman (1996, no. 1) contains the references for documents nos. 2-25. These documents form a collection that discuss the Paleoindian and Early Archaic periods for the southeastern United States. In the first paper from the collection, Anderson, O'Steen, and Sassaman (1996, no. 2) briefly discuss the environmental and projectile point changes that occurred during this time period. Sassaman and Anderson (1996, no. 11) put the second set of papers (documents nos. 12-25) in perspective.

Settlement systems and land use are discussed by several authors. Anderson and Sassaman (1996, no. 3) discuss the southeast as a whole. Anderson, (1996, no. 4) also describes his "band-macroband model" of Early Archaic settlement and land use that incorporates the need to find and exchange mates in areas of low population densities as the critical factor in shaping settlement systems. (This hypothesis is explored in more detail, along with a model on early colonization, in Anderson (1995, no. 26)). Sassaman (1996, no. 5) examines sites in South Carolina. Daniel (1996, no. 6) researched raw material use and its effect on settlement systems. Gillam (1996, no. 21) was also interested in raw material use and other natural resources in relation to fluted point locations in northeastern Arkansas. O'Steen (1996, no. 7) used data from the Oconee River drainage in Georgia to investigate settlement systems and land use. McGahey (1996, no. 19) looked at data from Mississippi, including data on projectile points from private collections. Johnson (1996, no. 10) compared land use and settlement patterns in the northeast and the southeast with modern caribou hunting to understand the archaeological record.

Brief site reports are the focus of some of the documents. Cable (1996, no. 8) reports on the Haw River site in North Carolina, Michie (1996, no. 13) describes the Taylor site in South Carolina, and Driskell (1996, no. 17) summarizes the work done at Dust cave in Alabama. Kimball (1996, no. 9) covers the various studies conducted in the Little Tennessee River valley prior to the inundation of Tellico lake.

Several authors used their state's projectile point forms or site files to discuss settlement patterns by time period: Sassaman and Anderson (1996, no. 12) in South Carolina, Ledbetter, Anderson, and O'Steen (1996, no. 14) in Georgia, Broster and Norton (1996, no. 15) in Tennessee and Futato (1996, no. 16) in Alabama.

Dunbar and Webb (1996, no. 18) describe and analyze six bone tools found in Florida. The rarity of bone tools, due to poor preservation most places, makes this an especially informative article.

Freeman, Smith, Jr. and Tankersley (1996, no. 20) discuss the archaeological record for the Clovis period in Kentucky. As this time period is prior to the Late Paleoindian tradition, very little of this document was marked for OCM Identifiers.

The last contributors (Gunn, 1996, no. 22; Dincauze, 1996, no. 23; Morse 1996, no. 24; and Wright 1996, no. 25) comment on the papers in the volume (eHRAF document numbers 2-25), offer critiques and suggestions on future research with Gunn also discussing climate globally and in North America.

Several documents are about the Agate Basin site complex in South Dakota and Wyoming. The arroyo was used for communal bison kills from Clovis through Hell Gap time periods. The data on the Clovis component was not marked for OCM Identifiers. Frison and Stanford (1982, no. 27) contains the references for documents nos. 27 through 52, the radiocarbon dates can be found in Frison (1982, no. 36), while Frison and Stanford (1982, no. 52) is a catalog of the artifacts. Frison (1982, nos. 28-29) introduces the site by describing the site localities, the physical environment, the excavations that have occurred there, the stratigraphy, and the archaeological and paleontological collections. Conclusions and a summary are found in Frison and Stanford (1982, no. 51).

The Folsom and the Hell Gap components are described in Frison (1982, nos. 30 and 32) while the Agate Basin components are described in Frison and Stanford (1982, no. 31). The Sheaman site (Frison 1982, no. 33) is a little to the north of the other areas and contains remains dating to Clovis times. Only the data that pertain to the Late Paleoindian tradition were marked for OCM Identifiers.

The bone, antler, and ivory artifacts are analyzed by Frison and Craig (1982, no. 34) and Frison and Bradley (1982, no. 38). The faunal remains, the behavior of the fauna themselves, and how that would affect human hunting techniques are discussed by Zeimens (1982, no. 39), Frison (1982, nos. 40-42), and Walker (1982, no. 43). Some of the faunal remains are analyzed to reconstruct the paleoenvironment (Walker 1982, no. 44 and Evanoff 1982, no. 50). Stone artifacts and lithic raw material sources are discussed by Frison (1982, no. 35) and Bradley (1982, no. 37). The soils and the geology of the site complex are covered by Albanese (1982, no. 45) and Reider (1982, no. 46). Floral studies were conducted by Marlow (1982, no. 47), Beiswenger (1982, no. 48), and Lewis (1982, no. 49).

The last set of documents describe the excavations at the Sloan site in Arkansas. It is a cemetery that dates to the Dalton period. References for these documents are found in Morse (1997, no. 53), while another document by Morse (1997, no. 63) summarizes the excavations and the Dalton subtradition. The discovery and the excavations at the site are described in greater detail in Morse and Morse (1997, no. 54). The analysis of the human remains was conducted by Condon and Rose (1997, no. 55). Artifact analysis was conducted by Morse (1997, no. 56), Bradley (1997, no. 57), and Yeskes and Gaertner (1997, no. 58). Morse et al. (1997, no. 59) conducted spatial analysis as a confirmation that the site was used as a cemetery. The paleoenvironment and stratigraphy of the site and surrounding area are described by Saucier (1997, no. 60) and Delcourt et al. (1997, no. 61). An overview of the Dalton subtradition is presented in Morse (1997, no. 62).

For further information on individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Sarah Berry

Butchering – Use HUNTING AND TRAPPING (224)

Band aggregation – Use VISITING AND HOSPITALITY (574)

Band interactions – Use SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND GROUPS (571)

Collecting or collector strategy – Use PRODUCTION AND SUPPLY (433)

Curated tools – Use LITHIC INDUSTRIES (324)

Curation of tools – Use LITHIC INDUSTRIES (324)

Foraging or forager strategy – Use PRODUCTION AND SUPPLY (433)

Group aggregation – Use VISITING AND HOSPITALITY (574)

Insolation –Insolation is the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth. The amount depends on the tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation, the precession of the rotation axis, and the eccentricity or elliptical shape of the Earth’s orbit around the sun. It will also depend on the latitude, time of year, time of day, and the orientation of the land surface with respect to the sun. These parameters affect the climate as insolation increases or decreases. (Definition from– Use CLIMATE (132)

Lithic procurement –when discussing how far lithic raw materials are found from their source– Use TRAVEL (484)

Lithic raw material transportation – Use TRAVEL (484)

Regionalization or regional subtraditions –when a specific subtradition is not named– Use CULTURAL PARTICIPATION (184)

Indexing Notes by

Sarah Berry

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