The Archaeology of the Bobtail Wolf Site. Folsom Occupation of the Knife River Flint Quarry Area, North Dakota / the Big Black Site (32DU955C). A Folsom Complex Workshop in the Knife River Flint Quarry Area, North Dakota

By Knudson, Ruthann | Plains Anthropologist, February 2004 | Go to article overview

The Archaeology of the Bobtail Wolf Site. Folsom Occupation of the Knife River Flint Quarry Area, North Dakota / the Big Black Site (32DU955C). A Folsom Complex Workshop in the Knife River Flint Quarry Area, North Dakota


Knudson, Ruthann, Plains Anthropologist


The Archaeology of the Bobtail Wolf Site. Folsom Occupation of the Knife River Flint Quarry Area, North Dakota. Edited by MATTHEW J. ROOT. Washington State University Press, Pullman. 2000. xxii+387 pp., 123 figures, 104 tables, 1 appendix, bibliography. $50.00 (Paper, ISBN 0-8742-2240-0).

The Big Black Site (32DU955C). A Folsom Complex Workshop in the Knife River Flint Quarry Area, North Dakota. Edited by JERRY D. WILLIAM. Washington State University Press, Pullman. 2000. xviii+299 pp., 121 figures, 99 tables, 1 appendix, bibliography. $50.00 (Paper, ISBN O8742-2241-9).

How far American Paleoindian archaeology has come since the first public acceptance of the antiquity of the Folsom kill site in northwestern New Mexico in 1927! The two reports on Folsom materials in North Dakota reviewed here, with several companion volumes, document the depth and breadth of North Dakota information about these fluted point makers and users at the end of the Pleistocene period.

In 1989 managers of the Lake Uo National Wildlife Refuge in Dunn County, North Dakota, determined that the Lake Uo dam was unsafe. To mitigate this safety hazard they cut a notch in the dam and drew down the lake levels. Lake Uo impounds the Spring Creek drainage, a tributary of the Knife River. As the waters receded tipi rings became visible, and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service called in University of North Dakota archeologists to survey the Lake Uo area. The impounded area and the landscape east through the Knife River Flint (KRvF) quarries (Root 1992) is essentially a continuous artifact scatter, with archaeological localities that extend up to 3 km in length. By the end of major site excavations in 1994, it was evident that 10,600 years ago what is now a wildlife refuge was a major Folsom lithic procurement, workshop, and camp area.

Lake Ilo site 32DU955 is a relatively continuous artifact deposit with several tool and debitage concentrations that reflect modern lake-eroded landforms and are analytically separable into three individual sites: -955A(Bobtail Wolf) to the south, -955D (Young-Man-Chief; Shifrin 2000) in the middle just to the north, and -955C (Big Black) at the far north of this cultural remnant on the west wide of Spring Creek. Lake Ilo is on the western periphery of the Great Plains' glaciated Missouri Plateau, in the Knife River Uplands. The study area is just south of the Little Missouri Badlands and east of the Killdeer Mountains, each of which is a flaked stone raw material source area. However, the primary lithic tool resource is KRF, a uniform, nonporous, non-fibrous, microcrystalline dark brown flint that occurs as eroded secondary deposits of pebbles and cobbles throughout Dunn and Mercer counties, North Dakota. The material has been used intensively and extensively throughout the human occupation of the northern Great Plains, as demonstrated in the reports reviewed here and a wide-ranging literature.

Root's description and discussion of the Bobtail Wolf site excavations and analysis is a masterful exegesis of the information that can be derived by a committed team of researchers from a site and assemblage that is less than ideal. It's an extensive Folsom quarry/workshop and campsite in North Dakota-what more could one want? Perhaps some well-defined hearths loaded with charcoal and with Folsom preforms, channel flakes, and finished point fragments embedded in a matrix loaded with pollen and faunal remains? Didn't happen. However, with the information available, Root and his team did address questions of the site age in the context of the regional geologic history, KRF procurement and reduction technology patterns, Folsom campsite activities and projectile point technology (a MUST in any Folsom study!), and the organization of Folsom tool production, group mobility, and exchange patterns.

The introductory discussion of "The Long and Winding Road" by Root and Alan J. Osborn presents the site setting and description, brief investigation history, research topics, paleo- and modern flora, fauna, and climate, and an outline of laboratory techniques (field and lab screening, etc.

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