Pace Folsom / San Patrice
by Bill Breckinridge
This interesting piece was found by King Steward near Tanglewood Community on the
Arkansas River below Keystone Dam, Tulsa Co. Oklahoma. It is Ex- Larry Shope and
Ex- Don Shope, two well known Tulsa County collectors, and was examined and
papered by Greg Perino for Larry Shope. Mr. Perino was very familiar with Arkansas
River points from N.E. Oklahoma. His opinion was that the point was a Clovis re-worked
by the San Patrice culture.
The material used for this piece is Boone chert. It has a very heavy stain and river
patina. There is moderate sand polish, typical of the Arkansas below Keystone Dam. In
local collections from the river, Clovis points are often made of Boone, Folsoms are
made of Boone approximately 30% of the time, and San Patrice points are seldom made
Mr. Pace acquired the point at the beginning of the dispersal of Don Shope's collection
late in 2006. Having viewed Folsom material at the Stone Age Fair in Loveland,
Colorado and from the Arkansas River in N.E. Oklahoma and noticing similarities to the
recycled fluted point, Mr. Pace asked me to examine the piece. I was able to keep the
point for several days.
Clovis points and tools are far more numerous and wide spread than Folsom. The two
overlap in time, with Clovis persisting until nearly the end of the far briefer Folsom
Period. Folsom is almost certainly a technological off shoot of Clovis, and is confined to
a limited geographical range. Clovis points reworked by early archaic cultures are not
uncommon, but the lighter, more fragile (and scarce!) Folsom points were seldom
The Arkansas River below the dams in Oklahoma has revealed an astonishing array of
Paleo point types, including Folsom. Many Early Archaic types are also found in the
river, including several varieties of San Patrice and even Pelicans. I have also observed
that there is a commensurate diversity in each type, from early stage bifaces and quarry
blanks to absolutely spent points. This has allowed myself and other collectors in these
areas to develop a familiarity with blades and "pre-forms" from many Paleo cultures that
are not often seen in collections. These early stages of the tool cycle are often
unrecognized, and I believe the original piece found by the San Patrice culture was such
a biface made by the Folsom culture.
I compared Mr. Pace's point to casts of Clovis points from six different excavated and
dated sites, including Blackwater Draw (the Clovis type site). I also compared the
point with Folsom material, including several from the river in Tulsa County. It most
resembles the early stage Folsom bifaces found by Steve Vaughn and Olin Taylor.
These larger than average Folsom bifacial knives served as preforms for Folsom points.
The ancient altering of this point by a later culture adds a layer of confusion to its
interpretation. Not only was the hafting area modified, much of the blade was reworked
as well, changing the angle of the cutting edge. This was done in a style reminiscent of
some Daltons, and resulted in a Dalton like cross section above the flutes. The base
has been totally altered to fit a later knife handle. The thinnest area was indented to
provide a more sturdy attachment. The base was narrowed, twice as much on one side
as the other. Only small areas on the middle of the blade and just above the top of the
flutes still show the original flaking style.
Although it is difficult to build a substantial body of evidence, enough clues are present
to type the piece as a Folsom biface. In the comparison with known Clovis variants, it
was most similar to the Dent Site Clovis. The Dent point was originally typed as a
Folsom. The Dent point is clearly on the Clovis side of the dividing line between the two
types, and I feel Mr. Pace's fluted point is just as clearly on the Folsom side of that line.
On one thing all observers agree...it's now a very well fluted San Patrice!
Carlos Black Folsom
Folsoms from Oklahoma. All have Perino papers.