The Clovis culture is a prehistoric Paleoamerican culture, named for distinct stone and bone tools found in close association with Pleistocene fauna, particularly two mammoths, at Blackwater Locality No. 1 near Clovis, New Mexico, in 1936 and 1937 (though Paleoindian artifacts had been found at the site since the 1920s). It appears around 11,500–11,000 uncalibrated years before present (YBP)[1] at the end of the last glacial period and is characterized by the manufacture of "Clovis points" and distinctive bone and ivory tools. Archaeologists' most precise determinations at present suggest this radiocarbon age is equal to roughly 13,200 to 12,900 calendar years ago.[1]

Quick facts: Geographical range, Period, Dates, Type site,...
Geographical rangeGreat Plains
Datesc. 13,000 – 11,000 BP
Type siteBlackwater Locality No. 1
Preceded byPaleo-Indians
Followed byFolsom tradition
A Clovis projectile point created using bifacial percussion flaking (that is, each face is flaked on both edges alternately with a percussor)

The only human burial that has been directly associated with tools from the Clovis culture included the remains of an infant boy researchers named Anzick-1.[2][3][4] Paleogenetic analyses of Anzick-1's ancient nuclear, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosome DNA[5] reveal that Anzick-1 is closely related to modern Native American populations, which lends support to the Beringia hypothesis for the settlement of the Americas.[6][4]

The Clovis culture was replaced by several more localized regional societies from the Younger Dryas cold-climate period onward. Post-Clovis cultures include the Folsom tradition, Gainey, Suwannee-Simpson, Plainview-Goshen, Cumberland, and Redstone. Each of these is thought to derive directly from Clovis, in some cases apparently differing only in the length of the fluting on their projectile points. Although this is generally held to be the result of normal cultural change through time,[7] numerous other reasons have been suggested as driving forces to explain changes in the archaeological record, such as the Younger Dryas postglacial climate change, which exhibited numerous faunal extinctions.[8][9]

After the discovery of several Clovis sites in eastern North America in the 1930s, the Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants who created a widespread culture in the Americas, and the ancestors of most of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.[10][11][12] However, several archaeological discoveries have cast significant doubt on the Clovis-first theory, including sites such as Cactus Hill in Virginia, Paisley Caves in the Summer Lake Basin of Oregon, the Topper site in Allendale County South Carolina, Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Pennsylvania, the Friedkin[13] site in Texas, Cueva Fell in Chile, White Sands[14] site in New Mexico, and especially Monte Verde also in Chile.[15] The oldest claimed human archaeological site in the Americas is the Pedra Furada hearths in Brazil, controversially dated to 19,000 to 30,000 years before the earliest Clovis sites.[16][17][18]