For Lithic Analysts


{This page is directed towards lithic analysts. It was a cover page for an introduction to the Calico lithics submitted to a professional lithics listserve (since edited). It also is directed to any other analyst who might be interested in the subject. And now this includes those interested in the Valsequillo lithics and artwork as well. I would like to hear from you. All private discussions will be confidential.}


I am an analyst who has spent about 18 months doing a cursory examination of the Calico subsurface collection. The Calico Early Man Site was founded by Louis B. Leakey who co-directed the site until his death in 1972. Ruth "Dee" Simpson, the other co-director, passed away in 2000.

This collection has been controversial since the first subsurface "artifacts" were found and displayed back in the 60s. Problem is, while Leakey looked at most of the specimens from the two Master Pits, they were never classified totally, nor were they ever catalogued into a computer system, until now.

The primary goal was to provide serial numbers and "type" names to each of the specimens, and this was done in quick, cursory fashion, just to provide some idea of what each specimen might represent. All this is covered in the documents and slide shows presented.

It is an honor to provide these files to the Lithics Site for your viewing and comment. In spending time with the specimens, my biggest problem was trying to locate any other "geofact" sites in the world that produced the varieties of flaking patterns (and densities) turning up at Calico. I came up with nothing.

I have included a recently published paper on a background of the geofact controversy as a supplement to the slide shows. As yet, in depth usewear analysis has not been carried out. If the site is archaeological, it might also be true that it is a quarry and usewear may not be present on any or all of the pieces tentatively classified as "tools" -- (please see text for clarification). Further, if they were indeed redeposited, that evidence may be damaged as well. A previous examination of a few pieces by Jeanne Binning turned up nothing in this regard.

My hope is that readers will know of geofact sites around the world that produce these kinds of fractures in the kinds of densities coming out of a small area of the overall fanglomerate that incorporates the site. Conversely, if they look like artifacts from particular assemblages or periods, I hope readers will point that out as well. Finally, I hope that there are some readers who have deeply explored the nature of bipolar flaking via experimentation. I am currently working on a website gallery that will focus on bipolar fractures, and their apparent presence among the Calico collection. (A previous bipolar website with mediocre photos can be found at the bipolar page )

In the future, other galleries will include specimens with bifacial edges, varieties of unifacial edges, and other aspects of the collection. If there is interest, I will contact Hugh when they are completed.

If you find some problems here, my only request is, be cruel. We really need to straighten out the Calico legacy. Was Calico, as Science Illustrated called it last year, "The Oldest Mistake"? Or was the mistake in not taking Louis Leakey seriously?

Thanks for your time.

Chris Hardaker October 2009  


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