UM Student Provides Historical Background to Anzick Site Researchers

February 14, 2014

MISSOULA – A recent article in Nature revealed that members of the Clovis culture were direct ancestors to contemporary Native Americans, and a University of Montana student worked on the study to provide background and historical information on Montana’s famous Anzick archeological site.clovis

The Anzick site, located southeast of Bozeman, is the only known burial site associated with the Clovis culture. The remains of two individuals have been unearthed there, and an infant subject’s genome was studied for the article “The Genome of a Late Pleistocene Human from a Clovis Burial Site in Western Montana.”

Samuel Stockton White, a doctoral student in the UM Department of Anthropology, worked with the article’s lead authors to provide background on the site. Over the past several years, he has studied the entirety of the Anzick artifacts, which now are housed at the Montana Historical Society in Helena.

“There was a large array of artifacts found with these remains, consisting of approximately 115 artifacts,” White said. “The assemblage includes bifaces – stone blades – all the way down to finished, ‘fluted’ projectile points.”

Importantly, this fluting, a longitudinal flake scar removed from the base toward the tip of the point, was found on the finished projectiles, a hallmark of Clovis technology.

The Anzick infant provided the oldest New World genome, answering lingering questions about the origin of the Clovis culture and the ancestry of modern-day Native Americans.

Sarah Anzick, a molecular biologist and the steward of the remains that were found on private land, also participated in the study.

“After 46 years since the discovery on my family land, we are finally hearing this child’s story through his genetic legacy,” she said. “I find it remarkable that the descendants of the Clovis culture, which seemed to have vanished 12,600 years ago, are still alive and thriving today.”

White studied a portion of the artifacts through a 2013 Dave Walter Research Fellowship at the Montana Historical Society, which is awarded to Montana residents involved in a public history project focused on exploring local history. He also is the recipient of the Dr. Dee C. Taylor and Sylvia Jensen Scholarship from UM.

For more information call White at 406-471-5089 or email sswhitev@yahoo.com.

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Photo: An array of Clovis stone blades found at the Anzick site are housed at the Montana Historical Society in Helena. Photo courtesy of Samuel Stockton White.

 

BP

State, National Science

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Contact: Samuel Stockton White, UM anthropology student, 406-471-5089, sswhitev@yahoo.com.