HOT TUBB, CRANE COUNTY, TEXAS
The Hot Tubb locality, located in the Monahans Dunes just off the Southern High Plains of west Texas, has yielded Folsom and Midland projectile points (some broken by impact), as well as badly fragmented and occasionally burned remains of Bison antiquus. The site was discovered in the early 1980s by an avocational archaeologist, who collected six Folsom points and two “classic Paleoindian gravers” from the locale. In subsequent years, additional Folsom points were surface collected from the locale. All of the artifacts were found in apparent association with fossilized bison bones, many relatively complete. In 1984, the site was visited by Michael Collins, Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory, University of Texas, who reported the site was comprised of three separate localities, exhibited apparent stratigraphic integrity (though set in an interdunal blowout), and had Paleoindian remains in a “white pluvial sand” presumably of Late Pleistocene age.
QUEST -sponsored excavations began at Hot Tubb during the 2002 field season and continued in 2003. A large area of the site was mapped; this included two of the localities and the surrounding area. Bison remains that were intact at the time of the Collins et al. visit 18 years ago are now entirely fragmented, attesting to the scouring effects of Aeolian processes. In general, most surface bone fragments are smaller than 3 centimeters in size. Sufficient material exists, however, to demonstrate that the bison was Bison antiquus (see Byerly and Seebach 2004) Lithic debitage of all sizes litters the surface of the site; clustering is apparent in some cases.
Surface collection of bone fragments and stone artifacts was carried out across all localities at the site. Subsurface investigation centered on the northeastern corner of the locality, and entailed the hand-excavation of forty 1m x 1m units. Furthermore, archaeological remains were collected by skimming and screening the surface sand from 362 additional 1m x 1m units. Because bison bone and artifacts occur primarily on the surface within an active sand dune, which also contains cultural material of later age, the Paleoindian component cannot be easily isolated, nor have attempts to determine its radiocarbon age been successful. In this regard, Hot Tubb provides a situation analogous to the Midland (Scharbauer) (Holliday and Meltzer 1996; Wendorf et al. 1955) and Shifting Sands (Amick and Rose 1990; Hofman et al. 1990) sites, in that the movement of dunes has exposed, and possibly obscured the context of, Paleoindian archaeological material.
Nonetheless, the distribution and density of material does indicate some spatial and possibly stratigraphic integrity to this component, which makes it possible to discern where and what Paleoindian activity occurred on site. Evidence indicates this was a small Folsom-age bison kill and processing locality of an estimated six animals. The Paleoindian lithic assemblage is marked by intensive re-working and even re-fluting of the projectile points, suggesting stone supplies – originally acquired at sources at least 150 km distant – were low by the time of this occupation. That dearth of stone, the presence of Midland points, as well as a possible Midland point preform (heretofore undocumented in Southern Plains assemblages), may shed some light on the longstanding ‘Folsom-Midland Problem.’
Hot Tubb view.
Second view from Hot Tubb.
Folsom points from Hot Tubb site. Image 98 and Image 99.