Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

David Anderson

Committee Members

Boyce Driskell, Gerald Schroedl, Theodore C. Labotka, Michael B. Collins


This dissertation addresses the “Folsom-Midland Problem,” in which two distinct varieties of stone projectile points occur together in many Folsom-age sites from the terminal Pleistocene in North America. In order to understand why these point types co-occur, a sample of measurements and photographs of 1,093 artifacts including points, preforms, and ultrathin bifaces has been amassed from 27 archaeological sites and three private collections across the Great Plains region of the United States. Analysis of the Folsom and Midland diagnostic artifacts from the Gault site in Central Texas provides the basis of subsequent analyses of the larger sample and indicates that the Folsom-Midland dichotomy is too simplistic to encompass the technological variation that was present during this period. Instead, Folsom-era point forms are subdivided into the following varieties: Folsom, Midland, unifacially fluted, pseudo-fluted, and miniature.

Technological analyses of the total sample indicate that the five Folsom-era point types have slightly different morphologies on average with regard to maximum width, basal width, and edge grinding, suggesting that they may have been hafted differently. An analysis of flintknapping skill for each of the point types indicates that Folsom points consistently emerge as the most skillfully made on average, followed by unifacially fluted, Midland, and pseudo-fluted, respectively. Raw materials analysis reveals that Folsom points are more often made from a wider variety of raw materials than the other point types, while Midland points are more often made from the most abundant raw materials than the other points. This difference appears to be the result of Folsom preforms being carried in an unfinished state for some time before being completed and employed as points, while the other point types are more often completed in one sitting and hafted immediately. Regional analyses show that Midland and miniature points are more common in the southern part of the Folsom geographic range, but there is no a discernible correlation with Folsom radiocarbon dates or faunal remains. Overall, flintknapping skill is determined to be the most significant factor in Folsom-era projectile point variation, although differing morphologies and raw material use also contribute to this variation.

Lassen Folsom Measures.xls (1020 kB)
Point, point, preform, and biface measurements

Dominant Materials.xls (154 kB)
Artifact raw material characterization (798410 kB)
Photographs of all artifacts by site

Lindenmeier Raw Materials.xlsx (19 kB)
Chi-square test comparing point types and material types for Lindenmeier

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