The role of lithic raw material availability and quality in determining tool kit size, tool function, and degree of retouch: A case study from Skink Rockshelter (46NI445), West Virginia

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Abstract

Analysis of lithic artifact data from Skink Rockshelter (44NI445) in central West Virginia indicates that stone quality and availability were important in determining how Native Americans differentially utilized tools at the site. In turn, tool function influenced lithic raw material selection. Although local Kanawha chert was clearly preferred for projectile point and biface manufacture, nonlocal Upper Mercer chert was preferred for flake tool use. Skink Rockshelter lithic data do not support the original hypothesis of the paper, that expedient flake tool use would increase at the expense of curated tools in the Kanawha chert primary source area. Instead, individuals curated the comparatively high-quality Upper Mercer chert stone tools to the site and continued to use and retouch them, rather than replace them with tools produced from the inferior, but abundant, Kanawha chert. Curation of Upper Mercer flake tools, as well as projectile points, resulted in their markedly reduced sizes and higher hafted biface reduction index (HRI) measures compared to the local Kanawha chert tools. Introduction Although overlooked in most prior studies, retouch of stone tools is an important component of the wider technological organization strategy of mobile hunter-gatherers. Even though retouch is the main focus of this paper, the ultimate goal is to better understand the means by which hunter-gatherers achieved success in life with the help of stone.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLithic Technology
Subtitle of host publicationMeasures of Production, Use, and Curation
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages216-232
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780511499661
ISBN (Print)9780521888271
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

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