In this chapter, the Paleoindian archaeological record in the Southeast is discussed in general terms, by the known or inferred age of the assemblages in question, without resorting to specific stages or subperiods. Initial Paleoindian occupation of the region is currently unknown, but is assumed to have been upwards of 13,450 B.P. (i.e., > 11,500 rcbp). The first widespread evidence for human occupation is associated with Clovis and related fluted point assemblages, which are inferred to occur between roughly 13,450-12,900 B.P. (i.e., ca. 11,500-10,800 rcbp). Terminal Paleoindian occupations, closely associated with the Younger Dryas climate interval, the ending of which marked the onset of the Holocene, date from roughly 12,900-11,450 B.P. (ca. 10,800-10,000 rcbp). These intervals have elsewhere been formalized into a new chronology for the period, consisting of Early, Middle, and Late Paleoindian subperiods (Anderson 2001, n.d.).
These temporal ranges are roughly comparable to chronological/stage formulations currently in use in the Southeast, such as the Early (11,500-10,750 rcbp) and Late (10,750-10,000 rcbp) Paleoindian framework advanced by Morse, Anderson, and Goodyear (1996) or the Early (11,500-10,900 rcbp), Middle (10,900-10,500 rcbp), and Late (10,500-10,000 rcbp) Paleoindian subperiods offered by Anderson (1990a). The important difference is the addition of an initial or Early Paleoindian subperiod to cover presumed pre-Clovis occupations. Goodyear (1999a:435-441) was the first to publicly call for the addition of a pre-Clovis stage in the Southeast, whose need was justified by accumulating evidence for occupations dating to this time. It is a testimony to the rate at which our thoughts about early occupations are changing that, prior to the widespread acceptance of Monte Verde's antiquity in the mid-1990s, occupations predating 13,450 B.P. in the region, that is, pre-Clovis in age, were not considered plausible enough to warrant a stage or subperiod designation in local sequences (e.g., see Anderson and Sassaman, eds., 1996). Table 1 offers a combined radiocarbon/calendrical timescale for southeastern Paleoindian assemblages, while Table 2 provides a listing of radiocarbon dates reported from Paleoindian sites in the region. Table 2 must be viewed as a partial listing, because many dates are either not reported, or are incompletely reported. Examples of temporally diagnostic Paleoindian projectile point types from the Southeast are illustrated in Figure 2.