Eyed bone needles from a younger dryas Paleoindian component at Tule Lake Rock Shelter, Northern California

Jon M. Erlandson, Douglas J. Kennett, Brendan J. Culleton, Ted Goebel, Greg C. Nelson, Craig Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The geographic and chronological distribution of eyed bone needles in North American Paleoindian sites led Osborn (2014) to propose that these distinctive artifacts date primarily to the Terminal Pleistocene Younger Dryas Cold Event and were essential to making close-fitting clothes needed to survive frigid winter conditions. Our study of a museum collection from Tule Lake Rock Shelter (CA-SIS-218A) in the high Klamath Basin area supports Osborn's argument. We present nine high-precision accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon assays from a 2.5 m deep cultural sequence, demonstrating that Paleoindians occupied the site primarily during the Younger Dryas. Although only about. 5m3 of the Paleoindian deposits at CA-SIS-218A were excavated, fragments of four small bone needles were recovered, three of which contain whole or partial eyes. Two fragments of large mammal cortical bone from the same levels contain remnants of "groove and snap" fractures that may be related to the production of needle blanks. The bone needles from Tule Lake Rock Shelter extend the geographic range of these distinctive Paleoindian artifacts into the high desert region of Northern California.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)776-781
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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