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The Investigations

"Flint, Don David, Flint!"

November 20, 1963 is a day etched forever in Elton Prewitt's memory - that is the day they finally found the first artifact in Bone Bed 2. The crew had been exposing the deeper bone bed for weeks and looking in vain for some definitive evidence that humans were responsible for what the archeologists suspected must be a very old kill deposit. Then crew member Florencio Hinojosa struck gold, or something much more valuable to the archeologists: a flint artifact.

At the moment Dibble was down the canyon at Eagle Cave visiting the excavations there. Back at Bonfire, the crew was working in several different excavation units in the central and southern parts of the shelter exposing more of Bone Bed 2 . "El-tone, El-tone! Fleent!" cried out Florencio, sending Elton Prewitt scrambling out of his unit and over to where Florencio was excitedly gesturing. He pointed to the curving end of a finely-chipped projectile point that he had just exposed beneath a bison rib bone. The crew knew exactly what to do. Dibble had drilled into their heads the standing order: "If you find any flint artifact, stop immediately and leave it exactly where it is." Elton helped Florencio gently brush off the partially exposed artifact and pandemonium broke out. Weeks of increasing tension and frustration were wiped away with a single find.

Cosme Hinojosa, Florencio's younger brother, was sent bounding down the canyon in search of Dibble. "Fleent, Don Da-veed, fleent!" he hollered over and over. His cry reverberated down the narrow canyon and reached Eagle Cave long before he did. At first Dibble was alarmed to hear the yelling, afraid that something bad had happened. But soon he made out Cosme's words: "Flint, Don David, flint, come quick." Dibble and the entire Eagle Cave crew all took off immediately for Bonfire to see for themselves what had been found. As Dibble's journal entry notes "After the discovery of this artifact - work at the site fell apart and little constructive activity occurred from then on."

Dibble decided to leave the point in place and call in witnesses. Ed Jelks was contacted by phone, and an Austin group including Curtis Tunnell, a geologist, and several others came down the next day to verify the find before it was removed. Emilio Hinojosa (the oldest Hinojosa brother) and Roy Little volunteered to spend the night at Bonfire, just to make sure no harm befell their discovery. Elton remembers walking up to Bonfire early the next morning and seeing Emilo sitting at the mouth of the shelter grinning and clutching a rifle as he zealously guarded the Bonfire crew's prize.

Finding the first Plainview point in Bone Bed 2 was a transforming moment in the Bonfire excavations. Uncertainty vanished, they now knew they were dealing with a bonafide Paleoindian bison kill deposit at least 11,000 years old.

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