Archaeological Geology of North America
This volume covers the geological aspects of archaeology from both regional and topical perspectives in an attempt to reflect the diverse and heterogeneous nature of archaeological geology. Of the 28 chapters, some are site-specific archaeological investigations that typify a variety of other sites: for example, the Commins site, Canada; the Calico site, California; and the Teotihuacan site, Mexico. Others summarize the archaeological geology of regions such as Alaska, western Canada, glacial Lake Agassiz basin, the central and southern Great Plains, or the North American continental shelf. Others focus more generally on topics such as the old copper industry of the continent, point-bar geoarchaeology of the Savannah River valley, and molluscs and coastal archaeology. Finally, a section on techniques includes chapters on geophysics, isotope geochemistry, pedology, and stratigraphic nomenclature as each applies to archaeology.
The archaeological geology of the Calico site, Mojave Desert, California
Published:January 01, 1990
Roy J. Shlemon, Fred E. Budinger, Jr., 1990. "The archaeological geology of the Calico site, Mojave Desert, California", Archaeological Geology of North America, Norman P. Lasca, Jack Donahue
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One of the most famous and yet controversial archaeological sites in North America is the Calico site, located in the central Mojave Desert of California (Fig. 1). The Calico site has evidence, albeit controversial, for the presence of early man some 200,000 years ago, far earlier than any site in North America presently wholly accepted by the archaeological community, and almost as old as recent discoveries in South America (de Lumley and others, 1988).
The controversy generally centers on two issues: (1) the authenticity of the artifacts, and (2) the age of the deposits (Haynes, 1973; Bryan, 1978; Taylor and Payen, 1979; Meighan, 1983). At present, more than 11,000 inferred stone tools and flakes have been recovered, mainly from 7- to 10-m-deep master pits. The Calico site was apparently a quarry utilized because of the local presence of high-quality knappable chert and chalcedony (Budinger and Simpson, 1985). Despite ongoing debate, many archaeologists believe that the lithic specimens are tools and flakes of human manufacture, rather than fortuitously created, natural "geofacts" (see, for example, discussions in Leakey and others, 1968, 1970; Schuiling, 1972, 1979; Haynes, 1973; Taylor and Payen, 1979; Carter, 1980; Gruhn and Young, 1980; Patterson, 1983; Patterson and others, 1989; Budinger, 1983; Budinger and Simpson, 1985; West, 1983).
New World archaeologists would more likely accept Calico as an archaeological site if the age of the artifact-bearing beds were on the order of 20,000 or 30,000 years old, rather than 200,000 years or older, as shown by recent soil-stratigraphic and