Ice Age Time Capsules Colloquium

By Sabrina Garone

Staff Reporter

On Oct. 28th, The Human Journey Colloquia Series presented “Ice Age Time Capsules: Clovis Caches and Pleistocene Adaptations in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Dr. J. David Kilby, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Texas State University, shared his insight on the evidence of Clovis culture in North America during the last glacial period.

The colloquium was also sponsored by the anthropology and sociology, history and biology departments. Students involved in these areas of study were encouraged to attend.

“As a history major, I think that it’s important to attend these types of colloquium whenever possible,” said junior Eugene McDonagh. “You never know when you might need this information in the future, especially when it’s related to a field you hope to be involved in someday.”

Students and faculty seeking to learn more about the subject filled the Schine Auditorium to listen to Dr. Kilby’s presentation.

Dr. Kilby received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 2008. His dissertation research focused on Clovis caches, comparing their locations to understand their use of the land.

“My primary research interest is the archaeology of the earliest inhabitants of the Americas,” said Kilby in a statement on Texas State’s website. His current research emphasizes “the relationship between Ice Age foragers and the changing physical environment of the North American Southern Plains, West and Southwest.”

Clovis is a term that refers to the prehistoric Native American culture appearing in North America about 13,500 years ago.

The Clovis people were nomads who existed before agriculture and the domestication of animals. Evidence of their origin can be found in Siberia, Alaska and parts of Russia.

During the Ice Age, sea levels were shallow due to the build up of water on large glaciers. For this reason, the Clovis people were able to travel to the Americas by sea.

“Evidence of the Clovis can be found all over the country, from Washington state to Florida,” said Dr. Kilby. “It wasn’t until 1932 that caches of stone tools were discovered in the United States, establishing for the first time that people inhabited the Americas before the last Ice Age.”

Since the initial discovery, caches have been found all over the country, proving that the Clovis were extremely mobile, and able to adapt to different types of environments.

Dr. Kilby believes that these caches were strategically placed by the Clovis people with the intention of returning, which he described as “a high-risk endeavor.”

Hiding caches was like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to the locations where food and resources were most abundant.

This also helped in colonizing the landscape, and allowed the Clovis to become more familiar with their new surroundings.

During the Ice Age, the Americas did not experience harsh weather conditions. A cool and less seasonal environment allowed plant and animal life to thrive.

Researchers believe that the Clovis were big game hunters due to the types of tools found within these caches. Spear points, blades and bone and ivory tools could have been used to hunt mammoth, sabertooth tiger and other large ice age animals.

Remains of these animals are often found near cache locations.

“Since their survival relied so much on their mobility, there have been few well-preserved artifacts found,” said Kilby.

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