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Contemporary Lithic Analysis in the Southeast

Problems, Solutions, and Interpretations

Philip J. Carr, Andrew P. Bradbury, Sarah E. Price, D. Shane Miller, Ashley M. Smallwood, Douglas Sain

Publication Year: 2012

Representing work by a mixture of veterans and a new generation of lithic analysts, Contemporary Lithic Analysis in the Southeast explores fresh ideas while reworking and pushing the limits of traditional methods and hypotheses.
The variability in the southeastern lithic landscape over space and through time makes it a dynamic and challenging region for archaeologists.  Demonstrating a holistic approach and using a variety of methods, this volume aims to derive information regarding prehistoric lifeways from lithic assemblages.
The contributors use data from a wide temporal span and a variety of sites across the Southeast, ranging from Texas to South Carolina and from Florida to Kentucky. Not merely cautionary tales, these case studies demonstrate the necessity of looking beyond the bag of lithic material sitting in the laboratory to address the key questions in the organization of prehistoric lithic technologies.  How do field-collection strategies bias our interpretations? What is therelationship between technological strategies and tool design? How can inferences regarding social and economic strategies be made from lithic assemblages?
William Andrefsky Jr. / Andrew P. Bradbury / Philip J. Carr / CarolynConklin /
D. Randall Cooper / Jason L.Edmonds / Jay D. Franklin / Albert C.Goodyear III /
Joel Hardison / Lucinda M. Langston / D. Shane Miller / George H.Odell /
Charlotte D. Pevny / Tara L. Potts /Sarah E. Price / Douglas Sain / Sarah C.Sherwood /
Ashley M. Smallwood /Paul Thacker

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Cover Page

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p. C-C

Title Page


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xiv

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1. Lithic Studies in the Southeast: Retrospective and Future Potential

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pp. 1-12

The southeastern United States, referred to in this volume as the Southeast, has a rich and varied natural landscape. The people who occupied this region for over 10,000 years before European contact were just as culturally rich and variable. One aspect of prehistoric research, often undervalued in the Southeast, is the study of lithic assemblages. More specifically, holistic integrated ...

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2. Omnipresent? We Don’t Recover the Half of It!

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pp. 13-27

A statement celebrating or proudly noting the ubiquity of lithic artifacts is the most common opening sentence to papers, books, and journal articles about this artifact class (e.g., Andrefsky 2009; Bradbury and Carr 2004a; Brown 2001; Cahen et al. 1979; Henry and Odell 1989; Larson and Kornfeld 1997; Odell, ed. 1996). These opening statements are misleading because the sheer size of...

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3. Beyond Stages: Modeling Clovis Biface Production at the Topper Site, South Carolina

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pp. 28-41

In the late eighteenth century, William Henry Holmes (1894) introduced the concept of “stages of production” in the manufacture of stone tools. While the theoretical landscape has changed drastically in the past century, lithic analysts have continued to use this methodological construct (Bleed 2001, 2002), particularly in the southeastern United States (Carr and Bradbury 2000:125–126)....

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4. A Comparison of Clovis Blade Technologies at the Topper and Big Pine Tree Sites, Allendale County, South Carolina

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pp. 42-54

Prehistoric people made design choices in the manufacture of stone tools in response to social and economic strategies employed, as well as the raw material environment in which they operated. Some, including Clovis people, manufactured a distinctive flake type, blades, for use in a variety of tasks or for modification into specialized tool forms. The variable occurrence of blades in the archaeological...

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5. Distinguishing Taphonomic Processes from Stone Tool Use at the Gault Site, Texas

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pp. 55-78

Artifact context is particularly important when conducting lithic microwear research. An assessment of artifact context must include consideration of what happens to an artifact after it enters the archaeological record (Schiffer 1996; Schnurrenberger and Bryan 1985). Taphonomic processes alter this record and complicate interpretations of artifact and site function (Levi-S ala 1986). Whether these processes occurred at the time the artifact was discarded, while...

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6. Evaluating Early Archaic Blade and Bipolar Technologies - Andrew P. Bradbury and Philip J. Carr

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pp. 79-95

Nearly 20 years of debate and discussion have taken place concerning the use of an organization of lithic technology approach for making inferences of past human behavior (e.g., Kelly 1994; Simek 1994; Torrence 1994). Importantly, significant efforts have been made to apply and expand this approach (e.g., Andrefsky 2008a; Bradbury et al. 2008; Carr 2008; Carr and Bradbury 2001; Cobb 2000; Odell 2003; Shott and Nelson 2008). We present our current conception...

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7. Provisioning Middle Archaic Places: Changing Technological Organization and Raw Material Economy in the Uwharrie Mountains

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pp. 96-112

Constructing hypotheses about past cultures based on flaked stone assemblages is a complex undertaking, requiring the collection of large data sets of observations and appropriate middle range theory linking organized patterns of attributes to human behaviors. Often the sample sizes are small, the assemblage or site representativeness open to question, and/or the linking arguments are weak. Nevertheless, the interpretation and integration of lines of evidence...

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8. Low-Quality Quartz and Implications for Technological Inferences

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pp. 113-127

Coarse-grained lithic raw materials are thought to present a myriad of problems for prehistoric knappers, and undoubtedly they present a different set of problems for lithic analysts. One such raw material, quartz, abundant throughout the Southeast and used for thousands of years, was the primary material for the manufacture of stone tools at some sites. Modern analysts faced with a lithic assemblage dominated by quartz must overcome multiple issues that ...

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9. An Integrated Approach: Lithic Analyses and Site Function, Eagle Drink Bluff Shelter, Upper Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee

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pp. 128-145

After four excavation seasons at Eagle Drink Bluff Shelter, a small sandstone rockshelter in the highlands of the Upper Cumberland Plateau (UCP) of Tennessee, components ranging from the Middle Archaic through the Late Woodland have been identified. Here we present the results of technological and use-wear analyses of the Late Archaic lithic assemblage, which contained more than 180 finished and reworked stone tools. In general, rockshelters have been...

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10. Shifting Strategies in Chert Use from the Late Archaic to the Early Fort Ancient at Elk Fork in Eastern Kentucky

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pp. 146-164

Raw material studies have been a key component of lithic analysis in the Southeast for decades, mainly because of the mosaic of geologic formations with recognizable varieties of useable stone and the fact that broad gaps between these resources required logistical planning by prehistoric groups. While lithic analysts have long recognized the potential of these signature lithic types for...

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11. Lithic Reduction at a Middle Woodland Site in Mississippi: Scale, Classification, and Explanation

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pp. 165-181

Woodland period research tends to focus on ceramic artifacts, likely due to their usefulness in chronology construction. While lithic tools, such as projectile points, have proven to be chronologically sensitive as well, within the Woodland period as well as in other periods in northeast Mississippi (Burris 2006; Edmonds 2009; Rafferty 1994), reliance only on artifacts useful for chronology construction masks the variability within the period in question. ...

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12. Raising the Bar: Lithic Analysis and Archaeological Research in the Southeast

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pp. 182-193

When I was asked to provide comments on the collection of lithic analysis papers presented at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference (included within this volume), I did not realize the extent to which lithic tools and debitage had been overlooked in the region as a medium for interpreting past aboriginal practices and behaviors. According to the session abstract, the goal of the lithic symposium and this volume is to highlight contemporary methods and theory...

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13. The Organization of Technology Approach in the Southeast: A Call to Arms or a Requiem?

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pp. 194-202

Andrew Bradbury and Philip Carr, along with Sarah Price, have once again (Carr and Bradbury 2000) issued a call to lithic analysts in the American Southeast for more frequent employment of an “organization of technology” approach to the study of stone artifacts. A useful definition of this concept was provided by Koldehoff (1987:154): “The way in which a culture or society designs its tools and structures tool production, use, and maintenance, so that the tools...

Works Cited

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pp. 203-244


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pp. 245-246


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pp. 247-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780817386078
E-ISBN-10: 0817386076
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817356996
Print-ISBN-10: 0817356991

Page Count: 267
Illustrations: 47 illus
Publication Year: 2012