Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Non-Projectile Lithics: The Plains
Michlovic, Michael G. and Dean T. Sather
2005 Lithic Artifacts from the Early Archaic Component. The Plains Anthropologist 50(196):135-158.
A lithic review of the Rustad Early Archaic, this article gives an overview of over 200 stone tools found at the site. The collection includes projectile points, scrapers, bifaces and hammerstones, and analyzes the rock components used to create them and the popularity of such material.
The analysis of the scrapers revealed that of the three most common stones used (Swan River chert: SRC, Red River chert: RRC, and Knife River flint: KRF), 10 were composed from KRF, indicating a clear preference for the use of the flint as a scraping tool. Additionally, 7 were composed of SRC, but just a few scrapers were composed of other stone, indicating that the makers of those tools were aware that some stones worked better for certain tool creations.
Of the scrapers two different styles were discovered: high keeled dorsal sides and flat sides, which implies that these scrapers were intended to be used for different purposes. Additionally, the sizes of the scrapers varied, further implying their potential different purposes.
Also found at the site were 88 flakes, mostly in SRC and RRC, as well as a small number of other stones. Very few flakes of KRF were found, indicating that those tools created from KRF were fashioned away from the site, and brought in. However, ample evidence in the high number of flakes and cores suggests that the rest of the tools were created on-site.
In addition to the scrapers, three hammerstones were discovered at the site. One was broken, but the other two show very clear evidence of flintknapping. Since they were hammerstones, however, and less crafted therefore by the nature of the tool, they were put into the expedient/informal category of tools discovered.
Both unifacial and bifacial tools were discovered at the site, however there was a larger number of bifacial tools than unifacial tools. The large number of bifaces is consistent with mobile groups, and would be fitting if the Rustad site served as a base for a group that traveled away from it for activities elsewhere.
Using fire-cracked rock samples from the White Buffalo Robe site, this article examines stones that had been, at some point, heated, during four time phases: Pre-Plains Village; Plains Village tradition Nailati phase; Plains Village tradition, Heart River phase; and Coalescent tradition, Knife River phase, however the majority of the samples come from the Plains Village tradition phases. The classification for fire-cracked rock rested on discoloration of the rock, including blackening from smoke, decomposition, or coarseness that was not characteristic of other tools.
At the site, several scrapers were discovered, most of them work enough on one side to be able to conclude hand use, leading to the conclusion that they were used to scrape animal hide off of the animal. Of these scrapers, four were made of fire-cracked rock.
Discovered whetstones at the site were similar in signs of use, showing worn areas, but the fire-cracked rock here had spalling from the heat, producing coarse areas that suggest the need for a more abrasive material—that the tool was used on tougher material.
Two types of these fire-cracked rocks were found: a small coal clinker, as well as a larger rock that displayed signs of being used to grind or polish. The abrasiveness of the fire-induced spalling may have been useful in grinding or sharpening wood or bone, as well as removing animal fur. The exact purpose, however, is unclear, as signs of wear can be seen on multiple sides, which would suggest the object not being handheld. This is further supported by the large size of the abrasive stone, which may have instead been stationary, and the other object rubbed against it to cut.
Hammerstones or pounders as well as anvils were present at the site, which are suggested to have been used in food processing, such as cracking open nuts. Of the tools discovered there were both burned and non-burned tools. This difference makes it unclear if the tools were created, used, and then discarded into the fire, or if they were purposefully burned to create the abrasiveness needed for difficult jobs.