Friday, March 4, 2011


This article discusses on-going research on prehistoric caribou hunting in the Great Lakes area. I'll admit to some skepticism that we can learn more from the "virtual caribou" than we would from a good topographic map and common sense. (Aren't they just looking for natural bottlenecks and drive points?) But, I was struck by the mention of rock piles and other features that mark formal drives. I'm familiar with drive features on the Great Plains, or the "desert kites" of the eastern deserts of the Levant. I associated these features with wide open environments, and assumed they were most effective there. Now it appears that association may just be a preservation/recognition bias. Drive features are more visible in open landscapes with few people, and are less likely to have been destroyed. Now, as researchers look at the preserved landscapes under Lake Huron, they're finding drive features there, as well.

It made me wonder where else we should expect drive features. What about the area around Cahokia, for example? There are pits at Cahokia with huge numbers of deer, all apparently hunted at more or less the same time. Were there drives along the Mississippi? Can deer be driven in that way? What about woodland bison? Unfortunately, a few rock cairns are unlikely to be recognized beneath modern St. Louis, if they survived at all.

Where else might we expect drives?

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