Paleoindian and Archaic Period Archaeology

Paleoindian Hunting Camps

For a long time, archaeologists believed that the first people arrived in the Americas about 13,000 years ago and became part of the widespread Clovis culture.  But after the discovery of these pre-Clovis stone blades and other artifacts from a site in Sussex County (south-central Virginia), archaeologists have evidence that people have lived in Virginia since at least 18,000 - 20,000 years ago.  The predecessors of these people likely arrived to the continent by boat along the Northern Pacific coasts rather than across the Bering Land Bridge, which was still covered in ice at that time.

Pre-Clovis Blades

Pre-Clovis Blades

Beginning at about 13,000 years ago, people began producing distinctively shaped Clovis points. They were made from a variety of stone types, and served as spearheads for hunting large game.  Clovis points are found across the continent even though the small hunting groups were widely dispersed.  The stylistic similarity of Clovis points across the miles points to the social connectivity of the many free-ranging hunting bands at this time. 

Clovis Point

Clovis Point

Clovis Points

Clovis Points