"The Farpoint extremely important...for under-
standing the earliest pre-history of the Americas. Hence the site is of national significance and requires an interdisciplinary research program and protection."

Dennis Stanford, Ph.D.
Director of the Paleoindian/
Paleoecology Program
Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C.

"Not to know what happened before one was born is to
remain a child"


"The past is never dead. It's not even past."

William Faulkner



Dr. E. Gary Stickel
Principal Archaeologist for the Farpoint Project

The Farpoint Site (State of California formal designation: CA-LAN-451), is a recent and major archaeological discovery in California. The exciting discovery at the site was a Clovis projectile point (spearhead). The point was miraculously saved by Mr. Edgar Perez, Native American Cultural Resources Specialist, while he was monitoring a backhoe excavating a trench for a new mansion development on Point Dume. We knew we had a major find but we didn't know how major until we closely examined the specimen in our laboratory. It was noticed that the stone point did not fit the local archaeological record. Instead its precise overall shape, its slightly concave base and the fact that it had "fluted flakes" detached from its base, were all attributes indicating that the point belonged to the Clovis Culture. The Clovis Culture is the oldest identifiable culture in the New World. The name derives from the town of Clovis, New Mexico where the first Clovis site was found. Not being Clovis experts ourselves, we had the point examined by the foremost Clovis expert scholars around the country (including Prof. Vance Haynes, Univ. of Arizona; Professor Bruce Huckell, Director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the Univ. of New Mexico, and Prof. Don Johnson, Univ. of Illinois). Also Dr. Dennis Stanford, Chief Archaeologist at the Smithsonian, not only confirmed the find as Clovis, but states the unique status of the Farpoint Site in the Americas (see his quotes below). The Clovis Culture dates from about 11,500 Before Present to possibly as late as 11,000 years ago. It is also the widest spread of any ancient culture in the New World, ranging from Canada to Venezuela and from the U.S. eastern seaboard to the west, with the Farpoint site being the first discovery of a Clovis Site with a subsurface imbedded point at "continent's end," on the dramatic Point Dume along the Malibu coast. The world of the time Clovis was the late Ice Age (Pleistocene Epoch), one with many glaciers, frigid landscapes and ice-cold rivers and waterways. Ancient Clovis People used their distinctive Clovis Points to hunt the "megafauna" (or big game) of the Late Pleistocene, game such as the large mammoths, mastodons and extinct bison.

There are two theories for the origins of the Clovis Culture. The traditional theory is that Clovis represents ancient Native Americans who immigrated across the Bering Land Bridge, between Siberia and Alaska and from there they made their way ever south until both North and South America were inhabited. However, according to Dr. Dennis Stanford, there are no antecedents for the Clovis spearheads in Asia whereas there are in ancient Europe. Therefore he believes Clovis people originated from the Solutrean Culture of what is now Spain and France, and coursing their way on boats along the coastlines of northwest Europe and then westward around Iceland, Greenland, to Nova Scotia, then southward along the Atlantic seaboard until they reached what is now the SE United States. From there Clovis proliferated and expanded westward, inhabiting virtually every State, until the Farpoint Site was reached at Continent's end. Dr. Stanford told me, however, that if we obtained a radiocarbon date earlier than the Clovis sites in the eastern U.S., he might have to revise his theory. That's how important the Farpoint Site is. Also if we were to find even one human tooth of the Clovis from Farpoint, we could do mitochondrial DNA analysis of it and see if there is a genetic match indicating which theory would appear to be correct. I also want to mention that we have already obtained (in 2000) a radiocarbon date of 9,000 years ago, which made Farpoint the oldest site in the City of Malibu at that time. Dr. Stanford believes Farpoint will date to 11,000 years ago or to the time of terminal Clovis. I also want to mention that the Chumash Native Americans have extensive remains at the Farpoint Site apparently above the Clovis material. We need to answer questions as to how early they were there and did they interact with the Clovis people? Only further research will answer these questions. Unfortunately the owner/developer of the property where the site is located, has stopped cooperating with us and has been, unfortunately, unnecessarily destroying parts of the site (e.g. with long excavated trenches apparently for a lawn sprinkler system, etc.). Thus the support group, The Friends of Farpoint was created to push for the preservation of not only this most important site, but to push for changes in the laws pertaining to cultural resources in the City of Malibu, State of California and, indeed, in the nation, so that discoveries of sites like Farpoint in the future will be recognized, protected and preserved for the edification of all citizens in the U.S., indeed around the world.

The Farpoint Site is of National and International interest; the following quotes are examples. As Dr. Stanford recently stated:

"I have examined ...the 'Clovis' biface from the Farpoint Site. There is no question that the artifact was made using Clovis technology and thereby indicates that the site was occupied by Clovis people over 11,000 years ago.

...the discovery of a Clovis age occupation at the site is extremely important not only for the local archaeological record, but for understanding the earliest pre­history of the Americas. Hence the site is of national significance and requires an interdisciplinary research program and protection."

And Dr. Stanford goes on to state the uniqueness of the new site:

"...until the discovery of the Farpoint Site, no 'in situ' Clovis age sites are known along the west coast of the Americas."

Dennis Stanford, Ph.D.
Director of the Paleoindian/
Paleoecology Program
Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C.

The London Times ran a story (Feb. 10, 2007) on the Farpoint Site's discovery, and since then a Press Conference was held (May 2, 2007) at the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Fossil Discoveries (held there because Richard Reynolds of the Museum analyzed and identified all of our recovered animal bones from Farpoint). Following that there have been a string of good articles in the Malibu Papers about the site. For example, Anne Soble, Editor of the Malibu Surfside News said in her newspaper's editorial, " (the Farpoint Site) is going to be the subject of great interest to not only archaeologists but also to those in every classroom throughout the world where the origins of human society are studied." And last August 3 (2007) California's State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) voted virtually unanimously to recommend James Flaherty's and my nomination of the site to the National Register of Historic Places. Another good development was last week, when the Director of the University of Arizona's Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Laboratory (funded by the National Science Foundation) agreed to run radiocarbon samples to obtain the needed new dating for the Farpoint Site. Thus there has been both good academic, government institutional (the SHRC) and popular media recognition of the Farpoint Site. We invite you to become a member of the Friends of Farpoint and help us in this good endeavor to save our past for the future.

William Faulkner said, "The past is never dead, it's not even past." To help us keep our past alive, please join the Friends of Farpoint. The Friends have a two-fold purpose at present: 1) To save the Farpoint Site, which presently is endangered and has been suffering unwarranted destructions of parts of it over the last year; 2) To sign up people on our petition, the goal of which is to promote better legislation at the city, state and national levels to properly protect Farpoint and other such sites in the future for our national cultural heritage. To join please contact:

Dr. Gary Stickel, ph. (323) 937-6997; e-mail.

We look forward to you joining with us on this exciting odyssey.

Google Earth satellite photo of Point Dume, where the Farpoint Site is located. Point Dume is the most prominent landform feature along the 27-mile Malibu coast.



E. Gary Stickel, Ph.D.
Principal Archaeologist, the Farpoint Site Project

An issue has arisen regarding the status of the Clovis Occupation at the Farpoint Site. The site, recorded as CA-LAN-451, was investigated with a Test Phase and a Mitigation Phase program, involving excavation, in 2000 (Stickel 2000). Given the tests of hypotheses conducted for the resultant mitigation report (Stickel 2000), the majority of the Farpoint Site's cultural deposits represent a habitation site. That interpretation might reasonably hold for all data recovered from the site (i.e. that they were deposited during the occupation of Farpoint as a habitation site). However the owner/developer of the property, on which the site rests, brought up the concept (first at the Oct. 10, 2006 meeting of the City of Malibu's Native American Cultural Resources Advisory Committee, held at City Hall), that Clovis points can be purchased on the Internet. The owner/developer has also repeatedly made the charge that the Clovis point our investigative team found at the site had been "seeded" at the site, i.e. that the point had been introduced or imported to the site. More recently, Ms. Trish Hernandez (Historical Archaeologist) and member of the State of California Historical Resources Committee, when the committee was about to vote on recommending James Flaherty's and my nomination of the Farpoint Site to the National Register of Historic Places last August 3, 2007, brought up the concept that the Clovis Point we found at the site could have been imported from another site and therefore she was not willing to call Farpoint a "Clovis Site." This essay is designed to address these issues of whether or not the point was "seeded" and/or "imported" (meaning that the point was originally brought in to the Farpoint Site from another place or site located elsewhere) and what is, indeed, the probable type of site associated with the Clovis find there. The owner/developer, to discount the importance of the find, has been attempting to assert that the point could have been purchased on the Internet and therefore recently (over the last few years) deposited on the site (i.e. presumably in the 2000s) as a de facto hoax. Ms. Hernandez, however, as we discussed it at the August 3, 2007 meeting, presented another, less perverse scenario, whereby a prehistoric person 9000 years ago (or the ancient point in time indicated by our radiocarbon date of 9000 B.P.) could have brought the point in from another site and then left it at the Farpoint Site where we found it in 2005. Both scenarios, de facto, if proven valid, would diminish the Clovis status at Farpoint, or dismiss it altogether if it were a hoax. I will now address those arguments.

There is a principle in science called "Occam's razor." originated by William of Occam (1670-1738) in England. His famous dictum states "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem" (in literal translation: "beings ought not to be multiplied except out of necessity."). The principle has been utilized in Science, having been incorporated into the Philosophy of Science for scientific explanation. And, simply put, the principle has been utilized when there have been two competing hypotheses used to explain the same phenomenon. Operationally it states that the competing hypothesis which is the least complex in terms that it requires the fewest assumptions, the fewest steps or factors, and the least amount of supportive evidence to validate it, usually proves, upon subsequent and extensive testing, to be the more valid of the two competing concepts. The principle has been, for a long time, proposed for usage in Archaeological explanation (cf. David L. Clark’s Analytical Archaeology 1968; 79-81, 475). I have also long endorsed its usage in scientific archaeology, particularly with regard to proposing


scientific laws (Stickel and Chartkoff 1973). The owner/developer's charge that the point could have been purchased on the Internet and then somehow "seeded" at the site is a false and unjustified accusation. Aside from the fact that it casts aspersions on the integrity of Mr. Edgar Perez, Native American Cultural Resources Specialist, who discovered the point and myself as a professional archaeologist, such a scenario would be relatively easy to reject for the following reasons: the purchase of any such point would leave a traceable trail of documentable seller and buyer activity. So that fact would make the purchase of an ancient artifact off the Internet to use as a hoax a very chancy affair. Or any attempt that might have been made to use a recent-made Clovis style point and to pass it off as an ancient bona fide Clovis point again would not stand up to scientific scrutiny. For example, the Clovis point from Farpoint has been so scrutinized, even under magnification, by some of the foremost Clovis experts in the nation and none of them ever doubted that it is a genuine Clovis made artifact and one dating to the Clovis era. Secondly why would Mr. Perez and I wish to jeopardize our professional reputations with a hoax so easy to expose? Thirdly, why would anyone pay thousands of dollars (which some Clovis points sell for on the internet I'm told) and then randomly bury the point on the site hoping that our archaeological team would somehow, by coincidence, excavate precisely at that location? The last point is especially poignant given that the artifact was dug up from its buried locus with a backhoe, by a construction crew (therefore not by our research team). It was a minor miracle that the backhoe didn't destroy the fragile point altogether. Again why would someone take such a risk? Fourthly, that person committing the hoax would have to take it on faith that we would excavate down that deep (i.e. between -80 and -103 cm below surface), when, in our previous formal archaeological excavations we dug down to only about an average depth of 61.25 cm (for our excavated pits).

Fifthly, if the charge is modified to assert that the point could have been made by someone today to pass it off as a legitimate ancient point, such a charge could be dismissed by the fact that it is very difficult to make a Clovis point, relatively few people today can make them because the technology required is specific and requires experienced motor skills. And even if it were made that recently, any knowledgeable chert knapper or experienced archaeologist in stone tool manufacture could relatively easily identify such a hoax because the point would lack the weathering and patina on its flake scars and surfaces that only ageing can produce. Moreover since the point is made of material from the Monterey Formation, such a hoaxer would have to produce the point from that Monterey Formation material. All of those elements would make the faking of the point extremely hard to do. Again why would any professional want to take such risks? It is clear to me that the charge of the point being a hoax can be dismissed. It should also be pointed out here that Mr. Perez noted that the point came from an intact soil matrix at the bottom of the trench that was being excavated and that soil was of relatively hard earth and the point when he retrieved it was encrusted with that firm soil (i.e. it was not found in loose soil which is the only context in which a hoaxed point could have been found).

The context of the discovery of the point leaves the present situation, one where I think it is useful to apply the principle of Occam's razor to the two competing concepts (not yet elevated to formally devised hypotheses) concerning the Clovis presence at Farpoint: (1) The first, discussed above, states that there is no Clovis occupational presence at the site because the Clovis point was brought to the site much later in time by non-Clovis people (e.g. in Ms. Hernandez's scenario by an ancient person 9000 years ago [who would have been of the "Archaic People" at the time], or, in the owner/developer's scenario by a unscrupulous person within the last few years). The second concept (2), which is the one I propose to account for the presence of the Clovis data at Farpoint, involves a scenario that simply states that a Clovis person, 11,000 years ago or so, made a Clovis Point on-site at Farpoint (a site that was probably an Clovis habitation/occupation site as opposed to a single find-spot or "isolate" artifact locus). Now how can we distinguish between the two concepts using the Principle of Occam's razor?


I submit the following to address that question:

Scenario (1), the more recent (than Clovis) person importing a Clovis point to the site concept, would minimally require the following assumptions/steps/factors:

1)A person (modern or archaic in time) would have to go
2)to another Clovis site and
3)for some motivational reason pick up an ancient Clovis point (one from a culture alien from his/her own).

Note that that site would have to be present in the California coastal zone and that part of the zone which contains Monterey Formation chert. For we (James Flaherty and I) have identified the material of the Farpoint Clovis Point as having been made of local chert. That identification was corroborated by Prof. Don Johnson of the University of Illinois, who specifically identified the Farpoint point material as "opaline silicate" chert from the Monterey Formation. In addition, Mike Rondeau, California archaeologist and expert on fluted points in California, also identified the point as Monterey Formation chert. This factor essentially obviates the owner/developer's claim that the point could have been purchased off the internet and "seeded" at the site [note that any such purchases off the internet would have been traceable], since California Clovis points are extremely rare in comparison to the rest of the nation, particularly the southeast U.S. Given how rare California Clovis points are, it is highly unlikely that one has ever been for sale on the internet, especially one made from California coastal material. Therefore, since a recent purchase scenario can be reasonably ruled out, that leaves the question of whether an ancient person (perhaps of Archaic age circa 9000 years ago) would have found and then transported the point.

4)Thus that ancient person would have to, again for some unknown motivational reason transport the point from the hypothetical donor site to the Farpoint Site.
5)Once at the Farpoint Site, that person would not only have to discard the point, that he had taken the trouble to transport to the site, but then intentionally bury the point some 40 cm(15 3/4 inches) below the 9000 year-old level he presumably would be standing on.

Again what would be the motivation for discarding by burial of an alien culture's point into the ground? The latter would be the case because the Clovis Point, recovered from the Farpoint Site, was found about 40 cm below the level at which we obtained the 9000 year- old radiocarbon date.

Therefore, scenario (1) involves 1) a person of a later time and of an alien culture (from Clovis, possibly of the Archaic period), who 2) would have to find an ancient Clovis Site (one much older than his own culture's), locate a Clovis point there, then 3) collect it for some reason, 4) then to choose not to incorporate it into his own culture (e.g. modify the point to be useful at his time period), 5) instead treating the point in a special manner (e.g. as an heirloom?; or at least an object worthy of transport),

6)then to transport the point to the Farpoint Site (again for what motivation?), and then finally,
7)intentionally bury the point at Farpoint relatively deeply (-40 cm) at the site.

Thus scenario (1) involves two 2 different time periods (Clovis and the time of the transporter person), two 2 different cultures (of Clovis and that of the transporter person), two 2 different sites (the Clovis point donor site, and the Farpoint Site), and the two sites would have to be within the California coastal zone (due to the fact that the Farpoint point is made of Monterey Formation chert from coastal California). Furthermore, scenario (1) involves complex motivations to explain why a person of one established culture would go to an ancient alien culture's site in the first place, and then remove from it an alien culture's spearpoint, and then transport it to another site (the Farpoint Site) and then the motivation for why that person would want to discard the found point by intentionally burying it,


relatively deeply, or 40 cm below his/her surface level at that time. Such motivations, therefore, would not be of a simple techno-economic basis, but rather would involve a more complex basis involving psychological and ideological factors. Therefore the relative complexity of scenario (1) is manifest with at least 7 steps or factors noted above.

Scenario (2), the Clovis made-in-situ at Farpoint concept, is not so complex. This scenario involves:

1)A Clovis person at
2)the Clovis time period, at
3)the Farpoint Site, who
4)for a simple techno-economic reason created a point for use in hunting (that is, he fabricated a point on site) and who
5)discarded the point for some reason (possibly by chance lost it) at the site.

This scenario is far less complex than Scenario (1) as we don't have to come up with two sites (Farpoint and the donor site), do not have to deal with two cultures (alien to each other in time and cultural customs), do not have to deal with complex motivations for finding, collecting, transporting and discarding behaviors. And if one wanted to bring up a "ceremonial" (ideological) reason for such behaviors, there is no contextual evidence to support a "ceremonial" interpretation. For example, there was no red ochre or anything else that could be construed to be of a ceremonial nature found on or associated with the Clovis point. Therefore, due to the Principle of Occam's razor, the two competing scenarios can be discriminated and the scenario that the Farpoint point was simply made and discarded at the site is more probable than the cumbersome scenario of an imported point.

The interpretation warrants some further discussion here. Although we have not absolutely proven it so far, James Flaherty (who did all the lithic analysis for the project to date) and I maintain that there are, within the relatively large debitage component of our data, other waste flakes of the same material that the Clovis point was made out of (hence adding credence to the point manufactured on-site concept). It should be pointed out here that the majority of the Clovis experts who have examined the Farpoint point to date, have interpreted it to be a late stage preform (i.e. not a finished point). Indeed, Mike Rondeau, a fluted point expert in California, stated that the Farpoint point "Is, literally, the first Clovis preform ever found in California. This is the only artifact from California that actually meets the technological requirements of that artifact class" (Rondeau 2006). One might expect that if the point had been imported to Farpoint from another Clovis site, it would have probably been a finished point from that donor site, not an unfinished one. The interpreted "preform" status of the Farpoint point also indicates that it was in process of being manufactured at the site when that process was interrupted for some reason and the point discarded or lost. In addition, Ms. Lynn Herold, Ph.D. Senior Criminalist at the crime scene investigation laboratory of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department tested the Farpoint Clovis Point for any blood residue (animal or human) and found no evidence. Her findings are consistent with a preform or at least a not as yet utilized point, which supports the interpretation that the point was "in process" of becoming a utilized Clovis point but had not reached that status yet.

If indeed the point was manufactured on the Farpoint Site, there still remains the question of what kind of site the Clovis person was involved with. That is, there are different kinds of potential sites it could have derived from ranging from a habitation site (e.g. at a village location) to just a point manufacturing site (e.g. a chipping station, with no over-night habitation associated with it). The fact that our 9000 year-old radiocarbon date came from a sample of Mytilus californianus (Californian mussel shell), which was an ecofact (food-related item in this case) and that we have recovered other such ecofacts down to -70 to -80 cm (i.e. approaching one meter in depth and relatively far below the -40 cm level of


the C-14 date) from our excavations in 2000, and there are animal bone fragments (from a variety of species including bony fish) also down to -70 to -80 cm, are all indications that there may well be a habitation site (as represented by shell and bone ecofacts) down to the near-depth of where the Clovis point was found. James Flaherty is currently plotting the data distributions from our recovered data from the site which will be presented later. For now, the indications are that there may well be a habitation site component at Farpoint that can be associated with the Clovis occupation there.

Given the discussion above: In all probability, therefore, the Farpoint Site is most likely a bona fide primary occupied Clovis site of some type, and that type also probabilistically will be found to be a habitation site. Since there are so few Clovis habitation sites known, and none directly on the west coast of the Western Hemisphere to date, if Farpoint is borne out to be a Clovis habitation site, the nature of its occupants' adaptation to the major ecotone of the California coast and the Pacific Ocean, both with good resources at the time, will make Farpoint very important for documenting our knowledge of Clovis adaptations on the continent.

References Cited:
Clarke, David L.
1968Analytical Archaeology. Methuen & Co. Ltd., London.

Rondeau, Michael
2006An e-mail accompanying the first draft "Research Notes" on his study of the Farpoint Clovis point (e-mail date: 7/23/2006).

Stickel, E. Gary and Joseph L. Chartkoff
1973The nature of scientific laws and their relations to law-building in archaeology. In The Explanation of Culture Change: Models in Prehistory. Edited by Colin Renfrew, Duckworth and Co. Ltd., London; pp. 663-671.

Stickel, E. Gary
2000A Phase 3 Excavation and Mitigation Report on Archaeological Site CA-LAN-451, Located in the City of Malibu, California. Report on file with the author and at the City of Malibu.





Dr. E. Gary Stickel
Principal Archaeologist for the Farpoint Project

It is always important in archaeology to establish the dating of any archaeological site being investigated. Formal dating helps establish the time of a site’s occupation and the duration of occupation of a site by ancient peoples. If more than one culture is present at a site, as we believe is the case at the Farpoint Site, it is important to establish the starting and ending dates of each cultural occupation at a site. The dating not only helps in the analysis of how a given cultural occupation at a site figured in the overall cultural development of an ancient culture area, but it also helps to establish how the cultural occupation of a site fits in with the overall picture of the sequence of cultural occupations of a major region of the world, in this case the Western Hemisphere. Initially the Farpoint Site was estimated to date to the Early Period of the local California coastal chronology (cf. Stickel 2000). That time estimate was based on the appearance of the surface of the site and by the types of artifacts found distributed on its surface (i.e. millingstones in the forms of manos [ground stone handstones used for grinding on a larger stone grinding slab], metate fragments (fragments of the larger stone grinding slab known as “metates” in local archaeology), and lithic debitage (fragments of chert and other hard stones produced during the process of chipping out sharp stone tools (e.g. for knives, spearheads, scrapers, etc.).

In order to verify our initial interpretations of the dating of the site, our research project, in 2000, submitted a sample of shell fragments (of Mytilus californianus) to the Beta Analytic Radiocarbon Laboratory in Florida. The sample was taken from data recovered from an STP (shovel test probe), from Level 5 (40-50 cm below surface). This 50 x 50 cm STP was located some 59 m from the locus where the Clovis point was later found. Beta Analytic Laboratory obtained an unexpectedly old radiocarbon date of 8400 ± 90 BP (Before Present) (see Radiocarbon Dating Report #1 below) (Hood 2000; Stickel 2000, Appendix 5). That date, however, had to be calibrated with the required radiocarbon date correction curve (needed because it has been established that “radiocarbon years” are not the same as true “calendar years” due to the differential production of radiocarbon on earth over the last 10,000 years). When the correction curve was applied to the Farpoint radiocarbon date, it was corrected, on its older end, to 6945 BC or to 8895 BP, or virtually 9000 years ago. This date was unexpected, for, as noted above, we thought the site, based on surface indications of artifacts, dated to the Early Period, which by the recent most chronology proposed for the area was 6,000-800 BC (or 8000 to 2800 BP)(King 1995). Thus our first Farpoint Site radiocarbon date indicated that the site was older than the existing chronology. That was the first indication that the Farpoint was extraordinary for we had obtained the oldest date yet recorded for the 27 mile-long coastal city limits of Malibu.

After a hiatus of archaeological work at the site, we resumed work at Farpoint in 2005. On September 26 of that year the project’s Native American Monitor, Edgar Perez, found a large projectile point (in this case a spearhead) at a depth ranging from approximately -80 to -103 cm below surface and at a depth about 30 cm to over 50 cm below the level from which the initial radiocarbon date was derived.. The writer here, Gary Stickel, later initially identified that specimen as a Clovis Projectile Point (stone spearhead) which was later verified by a number of prominent Clovis Culture expert archaeologists from around the nation (see “Letters Regarding the Authenticity and Significance of the Farpoint Site”). Some artifact types (in terms of their precise style, form, shape, materials and methods of manufacture) have been called “Type artifacts.” These type artifacts have often been used to both identify a culture at a site or culture area and the time period of that culture’s use of those artifacts. In the case of “Clovis Points” (with which the Farpoint point has been identified), the distinctive fluted based points have been used to identify the Clovis Culture at sites stretching across North America. Clovis points have been found, when their sites could be dated by radiocarbon, to date back to 11,500 to 11,000 years ago (Haynes 2006). It was due to this type artifact/time period correlation concept, that Dr. Dennis Stanford, Director of the Paleoindian/ Paleoecology Program at the Smithsonian Institution, in 2006, stated that “There is no question that the artifact (the Farpoint spearhead) was made using Clovis technology and thereby indicates that the site was occupied by Clovis people over 11,000 years ago” (Stanford 2006). Therefore, using the type artifact concept, it appeared that the Farpoint Clovis Culture occupation was as old as 11,000 or more years ago. However, it is preferable, in archaeological science, to obtain objective radiometric dates to support such an interpretation, to not just rely on the type artifact dating of a site alone. Therefore the Farpoint Research Project wished to obtain such radiometric dates by submitting additional samples from the site for age-dating.

That age-dating endeavor had two associated problems: 1) our archaeological team no longer had permission to excavate at the site as the owner has denied all such access to the important site and 2) the Research Project had no more research funds to pay for such dating analysis. James Flaherty, who had selected the successful 2000 radiocarbon sample and the writer, decided, since we no longer had access to the site, to select samples from other data we had excavated in 2000 as the only option open to us at this point. In order to solve the second problem, the writer contacted the Accelerated Mass Spectrometer laboratory (“AMS Facility”) at the Physics Department at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, and spoke with Dr. Timothy Jull, Director and Dr. Greg Hodgins, Assistant Research Scientist/Assistant Professor of Physics. They kindly agreed to analyze four more radiocarbon samples that we would submit to them from the Farpoint Site and not charge for their analysis. That generous gesture is very much appreciated by all concerned. Four samples were submitted and the results are presented below in Radiocarbon Dating Report #2 (Hodgins 2008).

In terms of the preliminary dating of the site, the 2000 radiocarbon date of virtually 9000 BP, indicated that the site dated beyond the local chronology of 8000 BP, into an era that, in general terms across the Nation, is referred to as the “Archaic Culture.” With the discovery of the Clovis point, however, it would appear that the Farpoint Site has a Clovis Culture component and that the component should date to circa 11,000 BP or older. The additional radiocarbon samples sent to the Arizona AMS Laboratory were analyzed in the hope of possibly dating that Clovis occupation at the site as well as the recent most occupation (which we expected to be Early Period in age).

As can be seen in Radiocarbon Dating Report #2 below, three of the radiocarbon samples dated in the 8000+ range (list both radiocarbon and calibrated ages). One of the samples unexpectedly dated to 40,600 ± 1,300 years (radiocarbon age) before present. In our collective opinions (the writer, James Flaherty, the UA AMS Lab, and Geologist Donald Johnson of the Univ. of Illinois) this date is anomalous in the cultural deposit and therefore cannot be associated with any human cultural occupation at the site. We believe that this anomalous date can be explained by other factors (see below in the listing of the date).

Regarding the three other dates mentioned above in the 8000+ range, the following comments are appropriate. In the case of sample# AA78427, it was originally submitted with the expectation that the radiocarbon assay from it would date the recent most occupation at the site (i.e. the surface to near-surface cultural deposit), since the sample was obtained from the first excavated level (0-10 cm) in the unit from which it was obtained. However, the assayed age of that sample (radiocarbon age 8409 ± 53 BP; calibrated age 7014 BC, or ~9014 BP) was unexpectedly older than we originally had anticipated. Our original expectation (when we began excavating the site in 1999) had been that the entire cultural deposit would date to the Early Period (8000 to 2800 BP; King 1995). That initial assessment was based on the character of the midden deposit and the nature of the surface artifacts, including both chipstone debris (debitage) and groundstone artifacts (manos and mano/metate fragments; note: the "Early Period" was formerly called the "Milling Stone Period"). Since sample# AA78427 was found to date to ~9014 BP (calibrated age), and since the other two dates (6824 BP and 7074 BP calibrated ages) also date to the 8000+ range, we have not obtained any dates that fall within the time-span of the Early Period, as originally expected. However, the site does contain groundstone artifacts (manos and metate fragments) which were recovered from a surface to near-surface context at the site; we still expect those artifacts to date to the Early Period, if and when they can be dated. There is a possibility that the Early Period peoples' utilization of the site was superimposed on the Archaic culture's deposit and that — due to their brief and ephemeral occupation — the Early Period people may not have left any datable material (shell and/or other ecofacts). The three dates in the 8000+ range indicate at present that the majority of the deposit we excavated in 1999-2000 may date to the Archaic Period. Importantly, these three new dates not only further corroborate the antiquity of the Farpoint Site, but they may indicate that there was a relatively substantial occupation of the site by Archaic peoples. Our submission consisted of samples AA78426 (70-80cm); AA78427 (0-10cm); AA78428 (60-70cm), and AA78429 (60-70cm). Three of these were selected as the deepest samples from pits we had previously excavated, in the hope that one or more of them might date their respective deposits to the Clovis period. Although sample# 78429 yielded a date of about 9074 years ago (calibrated), making it the oldest cultural date obtained for the City of Malibu at present, it nonetheless does not date back to the calibrated Clovis Culture time-span of about 12,500 to 12,000 years ago.

Unfortunately, in our previous investigations at the site, we did not excavate down to the level at which the Clovis point was later found. The three samples we submitted to possibly date Clovis at the site were all from data found above the estimated depth range of the Clovis point (sample AA78426, averaging ~ +5cm — +28cm above the range; samples AA78428 and AA78429, averaging ~ +10cm — +38cm above the range). Based on our dating results, a future excavation is needed to hopefully obtain organic data from the same depth as the Clovis point in order to obtain a valid date (or dates) for the Clovis occupation. We fully expect at this time that such a future effort will obtain the necessary datable material from the Clovis component at the Farpoint Site.

References Cited in Section:
Hodgins, Greg
2008Letter radiocarbon dating report of “Four shell samples from the Farpoint Site (CA-LAN-451),” letter on file at the NSF-Arizona AMS Facility, University of Arizona.

Hood, Darden
2000Report of Radiocarbon Dating Analysis (from site CA-LAN-451). Report on file at Beta Analytic Inc., Florida.

King, Chester
1990Evolution of Chumash Society: A Comparative Study of Artifacts Used for Social System Maintenance in the Santa Barbara Channel Region before A.D. 1804. Garland Publishing, New York.

Stanford, Dennis
2006Letter “To Whom it May Concern: Importance of the Farpoint Site,” Letter on file at The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Stickel, E. Gary
2000A Phase 3 Excavation and Mitigation Report on the Archaeological Site CA-LAN-451, Malibu,California. Unpublished report on file with the author and at the City of Malibu.

Radiocarbon Dating Report #1

Radiocarbon Dating Report #2

(Note: Explanatory text has been added by the writer
to the following table from the UA AMS Lab report)



Michael Rondeau
(Rev. August 2006)

Note: The linked PDF only provides research notes based on the best available information at the time. The author now thinks that the biface may be a finished tool rather than a preform. Other updated information on the depth and location of the find is available on this site in the post, "FARPOINT: CHRONOMETRIC DATING AND THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE FARPOINT SITE OCCUPATION".

Download PDF of M. Rondeau's Research Notes Here


Composite view showing edge modification
(illustration by James Flaherty)

Pleistocene Clovis-era Fauna

View of base
(photo by Yvette Stewart)

View of tip
(photo by Yvette Stewart)

(photos by Sheriff's Dept. Crime Laboratory, Co. of Los Angeles)

(photos by Sheriff's Dept. Crime Laboratory, Co. of Los Angeles)


"Farpoint: The First Clovis Culture Site
Discovered on the West Coast of the Americas"

Public lecture by Gary Stickel, Ph.D.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 / 7:00 PM
National Park Service Visitor Center
Franklin Canyon Park, Beverly Hills, CA


"The First Americans: The Discovery of the
Clovis Culture at the Farpoint Site in Malibu"

Illustrated public lecture by Gary Stickel, Ph.D.
For the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Meeting
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Irvine Ranch Water District Office
Irvine, CA

"Ice Age Man in Malibu?:
The Clovis Culture Discovery at Farpoint"

Illustrated public lecture by Gary Stickel, Ph.D.
For the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Lenart Auditorium, Fowler Museum
UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

"The First Americans in California:
Recent Discoveries in Malibu"

March 4, 2009
Leavey Library Auditorium
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

To view a video of this lecture, click the following link:

"The First Americans Discovered at Malibu"
A Lecture by Dr. Gary Stickel
November 22, 2008
Southwest Museum of the American Indian
Autry National Center
Los Angeles, CA

"Clovis Culture and the Farpoint Site"
June 26, 2008
Charmlee Park
Malibu, CA

"Clovis Culture at the Farpoint Site"
April 28, 2008
Malibu Public Library
Malibu, CA

"Clovis Culture at the Farpoint Site"
March 3, 2008
Sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Archaeological Society
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Santa Barbara, CA

"Farpoint Clovis Site"
November 3, 2007
Point Dume Mobile Home Park
Malibu, CA

"Farpoint Clovis Site"
October 3, 2007
Sponsored by the Ventura County Archaeological Society
Newbury Park Main Library
Newbury Park, CA