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The Williamson Paleo Indian Workshop Site,
Dinwiddie County, Virginia

by Rodney M Peck, Kannapolis, North Carolina

Originally Published in the Central States Archaeological Journal, Vol.56, No.4, pg.200Originally Published in the Central States Archaeological Journal, Vol.57, No.1, pg.45


Above: What a typical Paleo Indian Tool Kit might have looked like (hammerstones, scrapers, projectile point, knives, gravers, etc.), Williamson Site. Rodney M. Peck Collection.        Photo by Ashley Smallwood Ph. D. Candidate, Texas A M University.


The Williamson Paleo Indian Site is the largest Early Man Site in North America. Con­sisting of over 100 areas, this extremely large Workshop is very impressive. The Williamson site was first identified as a Paleo Indian Site in 1947. It is about five miles east of Dinwiddie Court House in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. The site begins approximately 400 to 450 feet north of the Williamson farm house and runs about a mile eastward along a flat-top ridge and extends approximately one quarter of a mile into the adjoining farm owned by Roy Ampy. The site is about 700-800 feet wide at its widest point and runs parallel to Little Cattail Creek. The site consists of more than seventy five acres of cultivated land, most of which is on the Williamson farm. The material can also be found scattered throughout the woods and along both sides of Little Cattail Creek.

Most lithic material at Williamson is known as “Cattail Creek Chalcedony”. This Chal­cedony has many impurities, geodes, bands of softer stone, and flaws of all types. Faults in the form of small pockets of minute quartz crystals are common and frequently led to the breakage during manufacturing of fluted points and tools of all sorts made by Early Man. This chalcedony was the finest workable lithic stone material available, in quantity, in Virginia. These early hunters valued this chal­cedony highly and returned to this preferred stone material for many generations. These early hunters used this preferred lithic mate­rial so extensively that the material source has been used almost up completely.


The Clovis projectile points found on the Williamson Paleo Indian Workshop Site can be divided into two varieties of Clovis points: Classic and non-classic. The Classic Clovis Points can be divided into three basic shapes:

1.Parallel-sided points: those points whose basal sides are parallel.

2.Convex-sided points: those points whose basal sides diverge away from the base.

3.Concave-sided points: those points whose basal sides are concave at the base.  The Non-classic Clovis Points consists of three basic shapes:

1.Pumpkin Seed Points: a small Clovis-like point that resembles a pumpkin seed.

2.Minature Clovis: a very small Clovis-like point that is usually less than one Inch in length.

3.Elys Ford Pentagonal: a pentagonal shaped Paleo Indian point that is very thin(Bushell, 1935, McCary, 1951, Peck, 1968).


Most all of the classic Clovis-like points found on the Williamson Site were made from bifacial cores that were reduced to rough blanks then to nicely made preforms by transverse and longitudinal fluting. From all available evidence approximately 90-95% of Clovis points made by Early Man at William­son were manufactured by a rather difficult though simple method known as the “Cattail Creek Fluting Tradition” (Painter, 1965). The blanks were fluted several times in order to reduce their thickness to produce a well made preform (biface) until a finished point was made.

Clovis-like Projectile Points made from Quartz Crystal, Longest is two inches Williamson Site, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Authors collection


Implements of Prismatic Blades and their Cores indicate a very heavy blade making cul­ture at the Williamson Site. Three sided Pris­matic Blades are referred to as “Triple Faceted Blades” and are the common type at William­son. Many of the blades were frequently trans­formed into end scrapers, chisel gravers and other tools, while a large number of the blades were used in their natural state. Most all of the blades were struck from cores made from a very high grade of Cattail Creek Chalcedony.. These Blades, over 500 total, varied in length from less than one inch (small Bladelets) to about three or more inches in length (Macro Blades).

Above: Clovis Preforms (Bifaces), Williamson Site, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Authors Collection


One of the most outstanding features of the Williamson Site is the wide variety and extremely large quantity of Paleo Indian tools that have been recovered throughout the years with the majority of these (approximately 95%) made of Cattail Creek Chalcedony. About every type of Paleo Indian stone tool is represented at Williamson which makes this site the most prolific Clovis Site in North America.

The most common and frequently tool found at Williamson are end scrapers with the majority of these being trianguloid in shape, and many of these have been manufactured with graver spurs and spokeshaves. Some very unique chisel gravers, lancets, awls, and unique knives give evidence of unusual tools used by Early Man.


Early Man first came to Virginia at the end of the most recent Ice Age sometime between 15,000 and 11,500 years ago. Several types of geological features such as rocks, gravel, sand and river basins gives evidence that Vir­ginia looked much different then it does to­day. These early people arrived during the late Wisconsinan deglaciation which produced a much wetter and colder climate. Central Vir­ginia experienced vast amounts of cold, muddy glacial meltwaters as the ice’s margine surged down the region’s streams and rivers such as the James, Appomattox, Nottoway and Me­herrin Rivers. Strands of spruce, pine, oak, hemlock, birch and other trees began to es­tablish themselves as conditions grew warmer and wetter some 12,000 years ago. These trees developed into forests that sheltered and sup­ported a large variety of late Ice Age animals and plants. Some, such as the mastodon and mammoth, are now extinct and others, such as bison, elk and caribou no longer live in the area. However, many animals that were alive at that time are very familiar to us today, such as the black bear, whitetail deer, fox, beaver, and wild turkey.

The only evidence we have of these Early Hunters are the stone implements they left behind-their Clovis Points, scrapers, knives, blades, cores, reamers, gravers, chisel grav­ers, and other debris and tools.

 “Used by Permission of the Author”
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