Tom D. Dillehay (University of
Kentucky), Michael B. Collins (University of Texas), Mario Pino (Universidad
Austral de Chile), Jack Rossen (Ithaca College), Jim Adovasio (Mercyhurst
College), Carlos Ocampo (Universidad de Chile), Ximena Navarro (Universidad
Catolica de Chile), Pilar Rivas (UCA, S.A.), David Pollack (Kentucky
Heritage Council), A. Gwynn Henderson (Kentucky Archaeological Survey),
Jose Saavedra (Casa de la Cultura, Chile), Patricio Sanzana (Consejo
Nacional de Desarollo Indigena, Chile), Pat Shipman (Penn State
University), Marvin Kay (University of Arkansas), Gaston Munoz, Anastasios Karathanasis
(University of Kentucky), Donald Ugent, (Southern Illinois University),
Michael Cibull (University of Kentucky), and Richard Geissler (University
October 1999, the Editors of Scientific American Discovering Archaeology,
a new popular magazine, published a lengthy unjuried SPECIAL REPORT,
entitled "Artifact Provenience at Monte Verde: Confusions and
Contraditions," by Stuart Fiedel of John Milner Associates, a private
archaeological contract firm in Alexandria, Virginia. His lengthy review of
the second volume on the Monte Verde site in Chile is full of accusations,
errors, and misrepresentations of the scientific evidence. Fiedel's review
was accompanied by short commentaries by several Paleoindian specialists
and short responses by Dillehay et al. and Collins.
publishing his review in a non-refereed magazine, Fiedel was able to make
many unfounded accusations and to lead the reader to believe that the
scientific evidence in the Monte Verde volumes is inadequately documented,
inconsistent, and confusing. Fiedel seemingly attempted to discredit the
compelling archaeological evidence from Monte Verde in defense of the
Clovis model. His review is inflammatory, with "a belligerence rarely
seen in scientific spats" (Science 286:657). We strongly
encourage fair and constructive criticism, but our objection in this case
is that Fiedel's review is neither fair nor constructive--and is often
highly misleading. In this website, we respond to Fiedel's allegations and
correct his numerous factual and interpretive mistakes.
Editors of Discovering Archaeology rushed Fiedel's review to
one of the most important conferences on
New World prehistory in more than 50 years--the Clovis and Beyond symposium
in Santa Fe October 28-31--will assemble most specialists on the topic to
discuss the statement of knowledge about when and how the New World was
settled. We felt it was extremely important that participants in that
conference have this information available in its entirety.
Scientific American Discovering
absolutely no position on the issues raised in this special section, and
publishing it in no way implies confidence or doubt about any opinions
expressed. Our only purpose is to present this information accurately,
fairly, and quickly. (The Editors of Discovering Archaeology 1999:1)
more detailed response to Fiedel was not written at the time of his review,
because the editors of Discovering Archaeology limited us to 700
words. The editors of Discovering Archaeology would not publish the
long response provided below. Since Fiedel's review was published in Discovering
Archaeology and avoided peer review, we have been unable to make this
reply available through conventional avenues (i.e., technical scientific
journals). In addition, Fiedel's factual and interpretive errors are so
numerous, the response we've had to produce to rebut him is prohibitively
long for most journals. Thus, this website.
Fiedel had applied his critical eye to his own review, we would not have to
correct his numerous mistakes. Nor would we have to respond to the remarks
of some commentators. Provided below is our response and an errata list
that corrects our editorial oversights in Volume 2. We do not present a
point-by-point rebuttal to all of Fiedel's accusations. In order to do
this, we would have had to have written an even longer response than the
current forty-nine single-spaced page report. Additional co-authors, who
worked on the Monte Verde project and who currently are in the field on
other projects, will add their comments as they have the time to read and
respond to Fiedel's review.
webpage is divided into six parts. Part 1 is an introduction. Part 2
addresses general issues in Fiedel's review. Part 3 is our long reply to
Fiedel's accusations and to those of some commentators. Part 4 is an errata
list for Volume 2 (Dillehay 1997). Part 5 is a brief conclusion. Part 6
shows nine photographs of in situ projectile points and excavation
Response to Fiedel: Parts 1-5
The following is a pdf file, you
will need Adobe® Acrobat Reader to view it
Below are some photographs that
illustrate in situ projectile points and excavation procedures.
This figure shows the south wall of Test
Pit 15 in Zone D where projectile point X-15-0001 or D-10-1-1 was
excavated. The arrow shows the in situ location of the point close to the
pit wall and resting on the gray sandy surface of stratum MV-7.
location of the point in Test Pit 15 (arrow is used as a scale, not as a
direction indicator). Note the plant fibers of the basal and overlying
MV-5 peat layer.
Wishbone Structure in Zone A. Point A-1-26 or A0100026 is located in the
MV-7 use floor next to the northwest corner of the structure (see arrow).
In situ location of point A-1-26 in
the MV-7 use floor.
Core A0104001 or A-1-41 showing the flaking facets and burning. This core
was recovered from the burned fill below and around Brazier or Feature
shots of a specimen of scraped wood and the percussion struck flaked
probably used to work it, located next to a burned and chopped fragment
of wood in Zone D, Areas 10 and 11.
shot of a wooden stake in Zone D. Note the diagonally cut tip, the
straight and flattened head and the knotted cordage wrapped around it
(arrows). This stake was found slightly dislodged against a timber (to
the right) which formed part of the wooden architectural frame of the
tent like structure in Zone D.
of one area in Zone D, showing the use of propanol alcohol and other
chemicals used during the field work to conserve the wood and other
perishables materials. When an area was not undergoing excavation, all
perishable materials were covered by plastic to prevent solar radiation
and wind from dehydrating the perishables.
perishables, especially the wooden artifacts and the soft tissue remains
of animals, were placed in chemical baths to preserve them in the field.
This photograph shows wooden artifacts from Zone A being placed in baths
and sealed in containers for transport to the laboratory for further