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Dr. Bruce Bradley's Two Day visit with The New England Chapter of the ASAA by Joe Finneran

Bruce Bradley works as an Associate Professor of Experimental Archaeology at Exeter University in England.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalFor over twelve years Dr. Bradley along with his friend and colleague Dr. Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institute, has been espousing an interesting theory concerning the origin of the auriculate style projectile points seen in the North American Clovis Culture. Bradley had noticed the uncanny similarity between our Clovis points and those being made by Stone Age European hunters of the Solutrean culture or perhaps more correctly, the late Solutrean or Episolutrean people.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalCoupling this similarity with other Solutrean traits, such as use of a prepared platform blade core and blade technology, long distance procurement of the finest exotic toolstone often transported via waterways, heavy use of red ochre, and the caching of preforms strengthens a cultural connection between the two people. Considering all of these traits are also indicative of the North American Clovis culture, at least leaves me lacking in any doubt that their theory is correct.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalI have been dumbfounded for years as to why so many learned scholars, knowledgeable of these similar cultural traits, still insist on a Clovis first via Beringian Theory. If you choose not to subscribe to the ocean route model, are we to believe that Western Europeans headed east across the Balkans, Russia, Siberia, Beringia, and finally once inside the current day United States, they then reinvented their old Solutrean traits, which they conveniently discarded all across the previously described travel route? Or are we to believe that two distinct cultures separated by the North Atlantic developed exactly identical traits, totally independent of one another? How long would it have taken to almost circumnavigate the globe from Western Europe to the western United States? Perhaps decade after decade, or perhaps centuries would expire during this trek. I have been informed by senior United States Merchant Marine Officers that it would only take approximately twenty-eight days for any floating object to drift from western Europe to Labrador, Newfoundland or Nova Scotia given the steady flow of sea water in the Irminger Current.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalWe all have heard the statement that "everyone was coming from everywhere". That comment appears to be true. According to Dr. Doug Owsley, the slightly later (Dalton age) Kennewick Man remains appear to be from the northern Pacific coastal islands perhaps Hokkaido off the Japans. Dr. Owsley has also offered that in Texas the Horn Shelter II skeletal remains seem to be of Polynesian origin. In addition, Dr. Walter Neves in Brazil curates large numbers of skulls, which have been definitively attributed to the Negroid race-obviously of African origin. Some of these skulls have been dated to approximately thirty thousand years ago. So far these would appear to be the oldest residents of our hemisphere. These people or their descendents were the El Jobo point-using ancients.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalDr. Michael Gramly has successfully demonstrated to me and many others, that these El Jobo type lanceolates were the precursors to what would later become the Cumberland points of our southeastern states. Using his recently patented I.R. Raman Laser Dating System, Dave Walley has determined the age of Cumberland to exceed 16,000 years. It is very easy for me to suspect that the unfluted auriculate point using Episolutreans, after making their North Atlantic Rim Influx advance to our continent, may have encountered these fluted Cumberland users and simply said to themselves, "We could use these peoples fluting on our auriculate pints" and thus was born the Clovis point and culture.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalI believe that much later when the glacial recession allowed the Mongoloid cultures arrival enmasse, that both the South Americans and the Europeans were completely decimated and displaced by these newcomers from Siberia with very little or no DNA exchange.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalThe reader will recognize that the immediately preceding comments concerning how the Clovis fluting came into being are solely those of this writer.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalI had been working since 1988 at The Wamsutta Paleo site in the Fowl Meadow region of Norfolk County, Massachusetts. We finally, after years of research, realized that Wamsutta had functioned as a game procurement site for the main encampment of early habitants of the nearby Brook Meadow site. These two locales are about ten miles southwest of Boston, and approximately eight miles from the modern day coast. In 1995 our team was opening a new area at Wamsutta (Locus H)-a beach locus on a south facing cove. We recovered Late Paleo lanceolate forms slightly above a major spread of late fluted point Barnes type artifacts covering a thin Clovis occupation. One day I took the time to dig deeper on Locus H. About 1- feet into the white glacial sand, which I suspected would be sterile. I quickly came across a large scattering of white quartz flakage that contained an obvious midsection of a quartz lanceolate.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalSince this scattering of artifacts was obviously well below the Clovis level, I wrote to Dennis Stanford in Washington, D.C. He responded and since that time, I have had numerous conversations with him in person from New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, and once at a lecture he was giving here in Massachusetts.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalAfter years of studying our massive Paleo assemblages (well over 8,000 artifacts), I finally came to the opinion that ninety or so artifacts that I previously had assumed were bipointed knives were perhaps given their deep find stratigraphy various forms of Laurel leaf projectile points/knives peculiar to the Western European cultures.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalPursuant to this realization, I again contacted both Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley supplying them with photographs of selected groups of artifacts from Wamsutta/Brook Meadow, which closely resemble Solutrean assemblages from France that I currently curate. After months of back and forth communications with Dr. Bradley in particular, he informed me that he would soon be in the Boston/Cambridge area for a personal visit in May. Dr. Bradley expressed an interest in viewing the artifacts I had sent photographs of, and also would like to tour the Wamsutta/Brook Meadow sites along with a few associated sites located in the (aforementioned) Fowl Meadow Region. In addition, Dr. Bradley stated that while here visiting us, he would kindly give a presentation to our New England Chapter of the ASAA the day after my personal visit with him. Bruce took a short commuter rail trip from Boston south to Norfolk County, and I picked him up and we proceeded to the Finneran home.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalI would feel seriously remiss if I did not point out a few very unique aspects of this small (6 x 3 mile) Fowl Meadow region that encompasses an area which once was the locale of a post-Laurentide melt glacial lake, which by the Early Archaic times had receded and been reduced to a swampy wetland. The area is tremendous for wildlife, but next to useless for human habitation. This is the reason Interstate 95 was built there; no one could build or live there.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalAccording to experts on the subject, the Barnes culture was restricted to areas west of western New York State. We now know these Barnes folk extended to Eastern Massachusetts and even out to Martha's Vineyard.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalPennsylvania archaeologist and author Gary Fogelman has commented that Late Paleo lanceolate forms in the Northeast are actually much rarer than the fluted point types. He is right except for the Fowl Meadow region. These late Paleo peoples were drawn here. Our team curates over two hundred lanceolate forms all from our sites. That is more lances I believe, than the total collections in the rest of the New England states combined. Game (caribou) was the apparent draw.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalAs our assemblages grew it became clear that the same chronology of point types and thus their associated cultures moved back and forth between Eastern Massachusetts and the Great Lakes via the Connecticut River, Lake Champlain, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway for centuries. This point chronology includes Barnes, Crowfield, Holcombe, Hi-Lo, Agate Basin, Hell Gap, Medina, Eden, Eastern Scottsbluff, and even a recently designated point type from Ontario referred to as Plainville. We have them all!

Amateur Archaeologist JournalAlthough the size of our excavation teams has varied over time, as a group we have excavated for just two months shy of twenty years, and accumulated in excess of nineteen thousand man-hours on site.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalKnowing that Dr. Bradley's lecture would prove to be a unique experience, the chapter chose to invite scientists and other enthused individuals from far afield who are not members of the New England Chapter of ASAA. Numerous people from around the country came for the Bradley presentation and a fine time was had by all.

Amateur Archaeologist JournalWe will take this opportunity to again thank Bruce Bradley for his generous gift of time and knowledge.

Amateur Archaeologist Journal

Amateur Archaeologist Journal

Amateur Archaeologist Journal



Click on an image to view full size.


1. As soon as Dr. Bradley arrived, he started examining artifacts that my wife Margery and I had put out for display. Here he checks out a one half million year old Homo Hiedelbergensis tool.


2. This table represents some of our exotic European and African specimens. Margery took several photos (see next photos minus captions since they are self-explanatory).


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9. Bruce and I spoke for hours as he took the time to examine hundreds of points and tools; most were from our Fowl Meadow sites.


10. We had displayed for comparison a number of genuine Solutrean artifacts on the right side of the table and a like number of pieces that I believe have more than a marked resemblance to the Solutrean ones. The artifacts on the left side of the table are all from the Wamsutta/Brook Meadow excavations.


11. French Solutrean artifacts excavated by a German team are on the left from the Abri Les Jean Blanc site, and the Fourneau du Diable (The Oven of the Devil) site on the right.


12. We gave Dr. Bradley ample time on his own to closely view, make notes, measurements, and drawings.


13. After some time viewing the Fowl Meadow artifacts, Dr. Bradley commented that if an archaeologist in southern France or northern Spain had recovered the Wamsutta/Brook Meadow artifacts, he would not have even questioned that they actually came from Europe.


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16. Of the thousands of Paleo artifacts from our sites of all various Paleo ages, we sent twelve random pieces to Mr. Dave Walley for testing on his IR Raman Laser Dating System. Five of them we knew were Late Paleo lances; Barnes artifacts were also included. Walley's dates came back confirming this as we suspected for those five. Of the other seven which all returned various Paleo dates; two came back eighteen to twenty thousand years old.

You will note that of the artifacts in this photograph, at least four are made of various types of Canadian Shield quartzites including a Rama Bay knife. Most are made of Mt. Jasper rhyolite quarried in Paleo times over two hundred miles north of our sites. We have found absolutely no lithics from south of the sites.


17. This table was devoted to large tools-mostly heavy chopping tools used for smashing bone and antler for use in tools and projectile points given the dearth of suitable toolstone found locally. Note the large red Munsungun chert piece from northern Maine in the foreground. Just to the left on the blue plastic is a very large deep ocean plummet. Previously, these large plummets were assigned to an age no earlier than the Early Archaic. However, I recovered this plummet in direct association with other Paleo artifacts. These early Americans were obviously seagoing individuals.


18. I redrew this map originally assembled by geo-scientist Dr. Harold Borns, Jr. of the University of Maine. Note the coastal and river edge locales of all the known Paleo sites in the Northeast, and how readily accessible the quality lithic sources would have been in the early days.


19. As Dr. Bradley accompanied me for an afternoon touring Fowl Meadow Paleo sites. I showed him old photographs of excavations we did over the years. This photograph shows a few of our team (me in rear), excavating (Locus F) at Wamsutta in 1990. Unfortunately, it appears that the very early people did not use this locus, however, we did find remnants of the Initial Archaic bifurcate culture.


20. These five unfluted auriculate points were recovered from the main encampment site of Brook Meadow. I curate another group from Wamsutta, and also know of approximately twenty more from the two sites in other archaeologist's hands excavated twenty years ago.


21. All of these artifacts were fashioned from various grades and colors of Mt. Jasper flow-banded rhyolite, except the center right ovate scraper/knife, which is made of a northern quartzite.


22. Here Bruce stands in the remains of an anciently constructed semi-circle of stones built against a southern cliff face. If a caribou covering were assembled over where Dr. Bradley stands, the enclosure would house approximately thirty individuals.


23. Dr. Bradley stands at the pinnacle of Signal Hill (one hundred feet above sea level) near (Locus G) at Wamsutta. In the background is Blue Hill. The name Massachusetts is derived, according to the Neponset Indians, a sub-tribe of the Massachusetts Nation from the native phrase, "Place of the great hill", or "People living in and about the great blue hill".


24. Bruce walks along the front of the Bates Rock shelter. Signal Hill is up to the right. Note that the hillside has been cleaned up in this photo and the next of any rock debris. These large rocks were recovered and used as border constraints at the small parking area.


25. Here again note the now barren hillside in front of the Bates Rock shelter. If I had taken this photo thirteen thousand years ago, I would be up to my thighs in the waters of Glacial Lake Neponset.


26. I took this picture some fifteen years ago before removal of the large boulders that anciently fell from a once much more prominent overhang of the rock shelter.


27. Most all of these projectile points were excavated approximately twenty yards directly behind where I took the previous photo.

Note the top row of neo-Indian points that we recovered during our years on site. This incredibly low number of points extends from the Contact period back to the very early Hardaway types. In other words, we have found fifteen times more Paleo points than the total points and no tools from the neo-Indian cultures spanning nine thousand plus years. Wamsutta represents almost a totally Paleo site.


28. A few team members excavate (Locus H) at the base of Signal Hill at Wamsutta, 1999.


29. This snapped base eastern Scottsbluff has never been retouched or even finished. I believe, after it broke during the final finishing flaking, the maker probably infuriated, tossed it away into the snows of the Younger Dryas. The toolstone is exceedingly hard Marblehead felsite.


30. Wamsutta is notorious for its slithering often times dangerous inhabitants. We don't mind since they discourage unwanted counterproductive interlopers.


31. This was the first slide in Dr. Bradley's lecture. His talk was entitled, "An Aukward Proposal-The Origin of America's Clovis Culture".


32. Dr. Bradley introduces himself with a few lighthearted comments.


33. The lecture hall was full and the presentation was getting ready to start.


34. Just a few photos of attendees. Here Ryan Quigley and his two children Owen and Mackenzie pose.


35. Gary Fogelman, Pennsylvania archaeologist, owner and editor of Indian Artifact Magazine, and author of several books including, "The Pennsylvania Fluted Point Survey", was on hand with his wife, Jo. Shortly after the lecture, Gary wrote a short story about our event in Indian Artifact Magazine.

Gary and Jo arrived with a very nice selection of their personal artifacts and a Few of them appear here.


36. A few more Fogelman pieces are seen here.


37. The Reverend Carl Yahnig and his wife Polly arrived from Kentucky. Yahnig is the author of, "My One Hundred and One Favorite Artifacts", from the Little River Clovis Complex.


38. Some of Yahnig's artifacts from Little River area.


39. New England Chapter member and avid avocational archaeologists from the South shore of Massachusetts are (L) Dennis Martin and (R) Eric Strom.


40. Note that the entire presentation was professionally videotaped for us. Anyone wishing to purchase a C.D. should contact chapter secretary/treasurer Margery Finneran at 508-668-9861 or mfinn15@comcast.


41. Virginia archaeologist Wm. Jack Hranicky, author of multiple publications including, "Prehistoric Projectile Points Found Along the Atlantic Coastal Plain", discussing his favorite subject with Bruce Bradley.


42. Don Simons, known for his research and papers on the Gainey and Butler sites among other Great Lakes Region sites, drove from Michigan with his wife Phyllis to the presentation. They insisted on bringing their pet bear along for the ride.


43. Dr. R. Michael Gramly, the original organizer of the American Society for Amateur Archaeology (L) chats with his long time colleague and friend Dr. Philip Rightmire.

Again we thank Dr. Bruce Bradley and all those attendees, some of whom traveled great distances, for making the event a memorable experience.

Acknowledgements are also due to Dr. Michael Gramly for his years of dogged resilience in his research of early cultures, and Margery Finneran for coordinating our chapter meeting with Dr. Bradley and assisting in this report.

Note: Dr. Bradley, in association with Dr. Dennis Stanford, is due to release their new book February 21, 2012, focusing on the North Atlantic Rim Influx theory and titled, "Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America's Clovis Culture".