Thursday, April 5, 2012
Non-Projectile Lithics: The Southwest
Nelson, Reid J.
1994 Basketmaker II Lithic Technology and Mobility Patterns on Cedar Mesa, Southeast Uta, Kiva, 60(2):277-288.
Based on the collection of several Anastazi lithic tools recovered from Cedar Mesa, Nelson compares the amount of effort put into the creation of each tool in an effort to determine sedentism across Basketmaker II, Basketmaker III and Pueblo II-III cultures.
Though it was previously suspected that the Basketmaker II culture to the Pueblo II-III varied greatly, Nelson’s research in Cedar Mesa uncovered much less diversity in tool types and a predominance of vegetable processing tools, indicating there may be a stronger similarity between cultures, with the Basketmaker II having a stronger focus on maize agriculture than previously suspected.
In an effort to determine sedentism based on lithic tools, Nelson compared the formality of the tools present from each period. He hypothesized that the more sedentary a culture was, the stronger the presence of expedient tools, or tools that were made situationally, with less focus on a standardized way of creating a tool, and more on an immediate need. On the other hand, he hypothesized a lessened presence of formal tools, that were crafted with an expectation of use in the future, indicating forethought used in crafting a tool for travel.
This hypothesis was not substantiated; there was no significant change between expedient and formal forms of tools found across the three periods. However, there was an a change in the presence of expedient cores, or cores that would have been crafted more situationally.
These findings suggest that there is not clear relationship between lithic technology and mobility, but rather suggests that several different factors may play a role in determining the lithic technology of the period, such as the availability of raw material—limited supplies may be related to more general purpose tools to limit use of resources, whereas disposable tools may imply abundant resources, and vice versa.
The findings in this study suggest that there is less overall variation between Basketmaker II, Basketmaker III, and Pueblo II-III than previously suspected, and that the technological organization was similar across all three periods.
1991 Excavations at a Small Mesa Verde Pueblo II Anasazi Site in Southwestern, Kiva, 57(1):55-75.
A Pueblo II Anasazi site was excavated in Mesa Verde, known as Gnatsville, through the Dolores Archaeology Project (DAP). Gnatsville was initially found to be unique in that is closely resembled Mustoe, a longstanding site inhabited for many generations, despite the fact that Gnatsville was a single component habitation—sites of which usually most closely resemble each other.
Several ceramics and lithic artifacts were recovered from Gnatsville. Two specific ceramic types—Cortez Black on white, and Mancos Black on white—found together indicate a very specific time period where they overlapped for between twenty and thirty years, indicating Gnatsville as a short occupation during Pueblo II.
In addition to a bone awl discovered were many lithic tools. Most common were non-flaked lithics crafted out of silica cemented sandstone, and very few lithics made of exotic raw materials were found. Of the tools, ninety-one percent were unmodified flakes.
The second largest collection of tools were unifaces, or scrapers, and bifaces, or knives, were the third largest collection of tools. Additionally, projectile points, gravers, denticulates, and spokeshaves were all present, but to a much lesser extent, and one flaked axe was found. Of the worked cores left behind, several showed signs of battering, suggesting dual use as a hammerstone.
Findings from the Gnatsville site suggest strong similarities between Gnatsville and the Anasazi in the Dolores River Valley, due to the presence of similar lithics and ceramics, as well as variations in mobility. However, while similar, Gnatsville showed a stronger presence of lithic tools than other Dolores Pueblo II sites, such as the Paintbrush House. The Paintbrush House site returned no evidence of any non-local lithic tools from the area, whereas Gnatsville showed few, but some. This may suggest that Gnatsville was slightly more mobile than other Pueblo II sites, such as Paintbrush House.
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