Folsom culture

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Folsom point - a characteristic projectile point of the Folsom culture

The Folsom Culture , named after its first site, Folsom in New Mexico , is an early prehistoric culture of the Paleo-Indian period in North America . Their distribution reached from what is now northern Mexico across the southwest of the United States , the Great Plains , and east of the Mississippi River in what is now Missouri and Illinois to the Great Lakes . The greatest concentration of finds is from the High Prairie , the highland prairies east of the Rocky Mountains . The Folsom culture is dated to 10,800–10,150 Before Present (~ 8800–8200 BC) with the help of 14 C dates and followed the previous Clovis culture . After the end of the Folsom culture, regionally fragmented cultural developments followed up to 8000 BC. Dated beginning of the Archaic period .

The characteristic artefacts of the Folsom culture are the flat projectile points made of flint and other chert , which were knocked into blades on both sides and have both long and wide surface retouchings. In addition, people used chips as blades, various scrapers , needles and awls . Typical sites are hunting grounds ( English : kill sites ) and mining sites for high-quality stone materials.

Way of life

After the extinction of the megafauna in North America, which was influenced by the Ice Age and fell into the time of the Clovis culture, bison became the most important big game from which the people roaming North America as hunters and gatherers in small groups and family groups lived, and their fur, leather, Tendons, bones and hair provided them with material for clothing and tools. In addition, there was the hunt for smaller game such as white-tailed deer , pronghorn , bighorn sheep and small animals such as rabbits , but also reptiles and birds , as well as the collection of fruits and seeds from wild plants. Humans traveled considerable distances - many stone tools were found 200–400 km from the quarries from which the material came.

Some of the oldest finds of rite and art in North America come from the Folsom culture . People used red ocher made from ground hematite to sprinkle the floor of a presumed round hut. A zigzag line found painted on a bison skull is made of the same material.


The study of the colonization of America began with the discovery of the Folsom culture. In 1908, a black cowboy named George McJunkin discovered bison bones in what is now Folsom in New Mexico, in which stone projectile points were still stuck. The site was not reported to the Colorado Museum of Natural History until 1925 , and in 1926/1927 it was examined by the director of the museum, JD Figgins, and external paleontologists consulted , including Barnum Brown and Alfred Kidder . They discovered that the bones belonged to a species of bison that had disappeared along with the glaciers over ten thousand years ago. From this developed the leading doctrine of the settlement of North America at the end of the last Ice Age over the Beringia land bridge between Siberia and Alaska, which still existed at that time . It was made more precise by later finds and dated using the 14 C method.

Other important sites of the Folsom culture are Lindenmeier Site in Northern Colorado (excavation from 1935, published only in the 1970s) and Hanson , Wyoming (published from 1980), which were not only hunting sites but also living quarters .


  • Jack L. Hoffman: Folsom Complex . In: Guy Gibbon: Archeology of Prehistoric Native America , New York, Garland Publishing, 1998, ISBN 0-8153-0725-X , p. 280 f.
  • Brian M. Fagan : Ancient North America . London and New York, Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1991, ISBN 0-500-27606-4 , p. 77 ff. (Also German: The early North America - Archeology of a continent , translated by Wolfgang Müller, Verlag CH Beck Munich 1993, ISBN 3-406-37245-7 )