UPDATE! (April 4th, 2017): I will not be working at Topper this summer - Shane Miller and I will be investigating the Hester site in Mississippi in June and July. However, lab work and writeup using the Topper and Swag materials are still underway, so keep an eye out for upcoming publications and presentations! In the meantime, you can download a recent article that I wrote along with Ashley Smallwood, Al Goodyear, and Sarah Walters from the Tennessee Archaeology website - it is included in Volume 8 (available as a large dowloadable .pdf file).

The Topper site is one of a series of prehistoric quarries along the Savannah River in Allendale County, South Carolina, and one of the largest known Clovis sites in the Americas. I have been directing excavations at Topper since 2010, and my research there focuses on identifying activity areas and analyzing the geoarchaeology of the site through the refitting of lithic debitage. Refitting also allows for the analysis of reduction sequences, and in some cases, even the identification of individual knappers - all of which are aspect of the archaeological record that would otherwise be invisible.

Topper Distribution Map
Plan view of a hearth-centered activity area in the "terrace block" at Topper. Black lines represent refits; red diamonds are thermally altered artifacts, and black squares are unaltered artifacts. Hearth-centered seating model via Binford 1978.

Dating of paleobotanical remains at Topper has also resulted in the first terrestrial radiocarbon date in the Southeastern United States that is directly associated with diagnostic Clovis material, and the oldest date for corn/maize in South Carolina. Additional samples, particularly from the Paleoindian and Early Archaic components, will help to refine cultural chronologies throughout the region.

If you are interested in volunteering on future excavations or offering financial assistance to support future research, please contact me.

Refit 2
Refitted core fragment
Refit 1
Refitted cobble fragment with radial breaks

Topper References

Anderson, Derek T. 2011 The 2010 4x4 Meter Unit at Topper: Preliminary Lithic and Spatial Analyses. Legacy (Newsletter of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology) 15(1):16-19.

Forman, Steven L. 2002 OSL Dating and Topper. Paper presented at the Allendale-Topper Conference, Columbia, SC.

Foss, John E. 2002 Soils and Prehistory in Allendale. Paper presented at the Allendale-Topper Conference, Columbia, SC.

Goodyear, Albert C. 2000 Topper Site: Results of the 2000 Allendale Paleoindian Expedition. Legacy (Newsletter of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology) 5(2):18-25.

Goodyear, Albert C. 2001 The Stratigraphy Story at the Topper Site. The Mammoth Trumpet 16(4):11.

Goodyear, Albert C. 2002/2003 Backhoes, BBQ’s and B Horizons: The 2002 Allendale Paleoindian Expedition. Legacy (Newsletter of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology) 7(2) and 8(1):22–29.

Goodyear, Albert C. 2005 Summary of the Allendale Paleoindian Expedition—2003 and 2004 Field Seasons. Legacy (Newsletter of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology) 9(1-2):4–11.

Goodyear, Albert C. 2009 Update on Research at the Topper Site. Legacy (Newsletter of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology) 13(1):12-15.

Goodyear, Albert C., III, and Tommy Charles 1984 An Archaeological Survey of Chert Quarries in Western Allendale County, South Carolina. Research Manuscript Series 195, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Goodyear, Albert C., Keith Derting, D. Shane Miller, and Ashley M. Smallwood 2009 Exotic Clovis Lithics from the Topper Site, 38AL23, Allendale County, South Carolina. Current Research in the Pleistocene 26:60-62.

Goodyear, Albert, C., III, Shane Miller, and Ashley, M. Smallwood 2007 Introducing Clovis at the Topper site, 38AL23, Allendale County, South Carolina. Paper presented at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, April 27, 2007, Austin, Texas.

Goodyear, Albert C., III, and Kenn Steffy 2003 Evidence of a Clovis occupation at the Topper site, 38AL23, Allendale County, South Carolina. Current Research in the Pleistocene, 20:23–25.

Goodyear, Albert C., Kenn Steffy, Anthony Pickering, and Kara Bridgman-Sweeney 2005 Clovis in Allendale: The Topper and Big Pine Tree Sites. Paper presented at the Clovis in the Southeast Conference, Columbia SC, October 27, 2005.

Goodyear, Albert C., Sam B. Upchurch, Tommy Charles, and Alan B. Albright 1985 Chert Sources and Paleoindian Lithic Processing in Allendale County, South Carolina. Current Research in the Pleistocene 2:47–49.

King, Megan 2012 The Distribution of Paleoindian Debitage from the Pleistocene Terrace at the Topper Site: An Evaluation of a Possible Pre-Clovis Occupation (38AL23). Unpublished M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Miller, D. Shane 2007 Site formation processes in an upland Paleoindian site: the 2005–2007 Topper firebreak excavations. Unpublished M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Miller, D. Shane 2010 Clovis Excavations at Topper 2005-2007: Examining Site Formation Processes at An Upland Paleoindian Site along the Middle Savannah River. Occasional Papers, Southeastern Paleoamerican Survey, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Miller, D. Shane, and Albert C. Goodyear 2008 A Probable Hafted Uniface from the Clovis Occupation at the Topper Site, 38AL23, Allendale County, South Carolina. Current Research in the Pleistocene 25:118-120.

Miller, D. Shane, and Ashley M. Smallwood 2012 Beyond Stages: Modeling Clovis Biface Production at the Topper Site, South Carolina. In: Carr, Philip J., Andrew P. Bradbury, and Sarah E. Price (Eds.), Contemporary Lithic Analysis in the Southeast: Problems, Solutions, and Interpretations, pp. 28-41.

Sain, Douglas A. 2011 Blade Technology at the Topper Site (38AL23). Unpublished M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales.

Sain, Douglas A. 2015 Pre Clovis at Topper (38AL23): Evaluating the Role of Human versus Natural Agency in the Formation of Lithic Deposits from a Pleistocene Terrace in the American Southeast. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Smallwood, Ashley M. 2010 Clovis biface technology at the Topper site, South Carolina: evidence for variation and technological flexibility. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(10):2413-2425.

Smallwood, Ashley M. 2012 Clovis technology and settlement in the American southeast: Using biface analysis to evaluate dispersal models. American Antiquity 77(4)689-713.

Smallwood, Ashley M. 2015 Context and spatial organization of the Clovis assemblage from the Topper site, South Carolina. Journal of Field Archaeology 40(1):69-88.

Smallwood, Ashley M., and Albert C. Goodyear 2009 Reworked Clovis Biface Distal Fragments from the Topper Site, 38AL23: Implications for Clovis Technological Organization in the Central Savannah Region. Current Research in the Pleistocene 26:118-120.

Smallwood, Ashley M., and D. Shane Miller 2009 Biface technology at the Topper site: explaining the variation and the implications for mobility. Paper presented on the 74th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, April 26, 2009, Atlanta, GA.

Smallwood, Ashley M., D. Shane Miller, and Douglas Sain 2013 Topper site, South Carolina: An overview of the Clovis lithic assemblage. In: Gingerich, Joseph A. M. (Ed.), In the Eastern Fluted Point Tradition, 280-299.

Steffy, Kenn, and Albert C. Goodyear 2006 Clovis Macro Blades from the Topper Site, 38AL23, Allendale County, South Carolina. Current Research in the Pleistocene 23:147-149.

Waters, Michael R., Steven L. Forman, Thomas W. Stafford Jr., and John Foss 2009 Geoarchaeological investigations at the Topper and big Pine Tree sites, Allendale County, South Carolina. Journal of Archaeological Science 36(7):1300–1311.

Derek Anderson Mississippi State archaeology archaeologist Paleoindian Clovis Archaic zooarch lithics refitting