Title

The Archaeology of Obsidian Occurrence Across Stone Tool Manufacture and Use Along the mid-Columbia River, Washington

Presenter Information

Sonja Kassa
Patrick McCutcheon

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom C/D

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

Archaeology, Obsidian Sourcing, Toolstone Geography

Abstract

In the Pacific Northwest, recent research of obsidian artifacts has suggested that the distance from an obsidian source and the number of sources used decreased over time. My research employs an evolutionary archaeology framework that considers the occurrence of obsidian sources across 656 obsidian artifacts from 18 archaeological sites along the mid-Columbia river in Washington State. To understand prehistoric obsidian occurrence, it is necessary to study stone tool manufacture and use, source diversity, and source-to-site distances. My research uses a model of stone tool cost and performance. Employing this model allows hypotheses to be tested about changing obsidian occurrence over time. How obsidian was employed in stone tool manufacture, maintenance, and use was described using paradigmatic classification. To understand how these stone tool attributes related to obsidian source diversity, a geochemical analysis was employed to trace obsidian artifacts to their geologic source. I chose samples for geochemical sourcing based on artifact type and quality, and included all artifact sizes in an attempt to capture source diversity. Of the 656 artifacts, 653 were assigned to one of 10 sources located in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Results indicate three local sources (one high- and two low-quality) comprise 93 percent of the collection, occurring as generally unused bifaces, cores, and flakes. Seven nonlocal, higher-quality sources represent 7 percent of the artifacts as two bifaces and small flakes. Testing our hypothesis demonstrated that local low-quality obsidian occurred as informal tools throughout time, while nonlocal high-quality sources were used for formal tools periodically over time.

Poster Number

47

Faculty Mentor(s)

McCutcheon , Patrick

Additional Mentoring Department

Resource Management

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May 15th, 11:30 AM May 15th, 2:00 PM

The Archaeology of Obsidian Occurrence Across Stone Tool Manufacture and Use Along the mid-Columbia River, Washington

SURC Ballroom C/D

In the Pacific Northwest, recent research of obsidian artifacts has suggested that the distance from an obsidian source and the number of sources used decreased over time. My research employs an evolutionary archaeology framework that considers the occurrence of obsidian sources across 656 obsidian artifacts from 18 archaeological sites along the mid-Columbia river in Washington State. To understand prehistoric obsidian occurrence, it is necessary to study stone tool manufacture and use, source diversity, and source-to-site distances. My research uses a model of stone tool cost and performance. Employing this model allows hypotheses to be tested about changing obsidian occurrence over time. How obsidian was employed in stone tool manufacture, maintenance, and use was described using paradigmatic classification. To understand how these stone tool attributes related to obsidian source diversity, a geochemical analysis was employed to trace obsidian artifacts to their geologic source. I chose samples for geochemical sourcing based on artifact type and quality, and included all artifact sizes in an attempt to capture source diversity. Of the 656 artifacts, 653 were assigned to one of 10 sources located in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Results indicate three local sources (one high- and two low-quality) comprise 93 percent of the collection, occurring as generally unused bifaces, cores, and flakes. Seven nonlocal, higher-quality sources represent 7 percent of the artifacts as two bifaces and small flakes. Testing our hypothesis demonstrated that local low-quality obsidian occurred as informal tools throughout time, while nonlocal high-quality sources were used for formal tools periodically over time.