Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1998


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 8, No.1, 1998. Copyright © 1998 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


Written in a clear, concise manner and profusely illustrated, Vance Holliday's book introduces the serious student of geoarchaeology to the variety and complexity of twenty Paleoindian archaeological sites on the Southern High Plains. A logical sequence of chapters begins with an engaging regional history of Paleoindian geoarchaeological research, followed by comprehensive discussions of the geomorphology, stratigraphy, soils, Late Pleistocene paleoenvironments, and geochronology, jointly presenting Paleoindian archaeological sites as much more than collections of stone tools and extinct animal bones. Holliday includes good summaries of lithic and faunal data for each archaeological site discussed in the text.

Following the presentation of numerous chains of geoarchaeological evidence for each cultural period and archaeological site, the author provides a thorough discussion incorporating Paleoindian sites found outside the standard geographic demarcation for the Southern High Plains. This is important since much of the archaeological literature concerning Paleoindian occupations on the Great Plains tends to be extremely provincial in scope, limited to a single site, temporal period, or distinct culture. Holliday initiates an encompassing review of pertinent literature to strengthen his own conclusions in the final chapter, thereby offering a valuable bibliography on Paleoindian archaeology. With a final flair for the all-inclusive, he supplies appendices that convey detailed information pertaining to site setting, stratigraphic profiles, pedology, as well as lithic raw material resources available on the Southern High Plains.