The Clovis Enigma | SAAJ 45


On this special edition of the podcast, we go in search of answers to one of American Archaeology’s most enduring mysteries: the enigmatic Clovis people and their unique technology. Who were the hunters that designed the fluted projectile point, regarded by some as “America’s first invention,” and what happened to them and their technology at the end of the last ice age? Did they truly vanish, or does the rise and sudden disappearance of what archaeologists call Clovis represent something far more complex?

Our investigation of the Clovis enigma takes us back to the first decade of the 20th century with the discoveries at Folsom, New Mexico, followed by those at Blackwater Draw, which effectively put Clovis on the map. We then examine archaeological perspectives on the Clovis people, including who they were, how and when they arrived in the Americas, and what makes their highly specialized technology so significant. Finally, we also explore the lingering shadow of “pre-Clovis” sites that predate the appearance of these distinctive fluted lithic points.

Our exploration of the Clovis enigma leaves us with more questions than answers, and stands testament to why archaeologists remain fascinated with this enigmatic cultural manifestation, their technology, and their lasting imprint on the world of the Ancient Americas.

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