Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Non-Projectile Lithics: The Northwest Coast

Markos, Jeffrey A. 1991. The Packwood Lake Site: Lithic Technology and Site Function. Journal of California and the Great Basin Anthropology 13(2):217-229.

In Southwest Washington, Southeast of Mount Rainier, the lithic assemblage site Packwood, was excavated. Packwood was compared to two other sites, the Diamond Lil site and the Warehouse site in the Oregon Cascade Range. A large number of Oregon sites were determined to be hunting sites based on the lithic reduction activities of the area. The Packwood site uncovered over 4,000 lithic artifacts, dating back 1,100 years ago.
Packwood was compared to Diamond Lil and Warehouse, both of which were hunting or butchering sites, and the artifacts were compared to those found a few years prior, already in the archaeological record. From the comparison, Packwood showed more flakes from unprepared cores and limited flake scars, which indicated they were not produced as bifaces or blanks, unlike the other sites. However, there was the presence of a bipolar flake technique discovered from two exhausted cores, that, through microlith replication, were determined to be used to cut small bifaces.
Comparing the Packwood and Warehouse sites showed a difference in stage development of the lithics. At Packwood, there were early-stage biface thinning flakes, showing little reworking of the lithic—rather, it was cut and used, and never made stronger. However, at Warehouse, there was a stronger presence of late-stage biface thinning flakes, indicating long term use of the tool, and evidence that it was improved over time.
The findings at Packwood support the site being a seasonal camp or multi-resource acquisition site, rather than a hunting site—Packwood was most likely used for fishing or gathering berries when in season. This conclusion is evidenced by the Packwood artifacts being more focused on shorter term use of bifacial blanks, performs and some expedient flake tools, which suggest an element of mobility (that is, created with the intention of travel).
Additionally, both Warehouse and Diamond Lil evidence maintenance in rejuvenation debitage at Warehouse and replacement points and microblades as well as bipolar technology at Diamond Lil. Packwood, however, only evidence performs to be improved later (indicating a lack of permanency) and biface blanks.

Madsen, Carl D. 1997. Microwear Analysis of the Lithic Assemblage at the Rosenberger Site. Journal of California and the Great Basin Anthropology 19(1):116-123.

Located East of New Plymouth, Idaho, the Rosenberger site was selected for microwear analysis of its lithic tool artifacts. A cache of tools, as well as red ocher were discovered at the site, and thought initially to be tools potentially created solely for burial ritual. The artifacts were extremely well preserved, making them a candidate for microwear analysis.
At the suspected burial were one hundred and thirty one flaked stone tools, made from basalt, obsidian, and microcrystalline silicates. Of the microcrystalline silicate tools, the turkey tail points, as well as the biface caches were notably thermal treated.
Of these one hundred and thirty one tools collected, a random sample of fifty five were examined with microwear analysis to determine potential use. Two of the fifty five showed signs of wear, one of which was a turkey-tail point. The point showed signs of wear perpendicular to the base, and a satin type of shine. This wear pattern is unlike scrapers used on animal hide, indicating that it was not used for sustenance retrieval or other common resources. After the microwear analysis there was no evidence to suggest the tools were used in any manner other than ceremonial.  Additionally, use of high quality microcrystalline silicates could be seen as further evidence for burial goods.
While the human remains found near the lithic caches were not kept but rather returned and reburied, they were not factored in to the analysis at all. However, there were three separate sets of remains found, and one hundred and thirty one separate tools. This indicates a strong use of lithic tools in burial ceremonies, and the slight wear on the points indicates at least minor use in those ceremonies. While the exact use is unclear, there is at least some purpose for so many flake stone tools to be present around burial areas and in burials with different sets of remains. 

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