::: The ARC Lithics Laboratory is set up for both flaked and ground stone analysis. A comprehensive and standardized lithics program  is at the heart of the ARC's data interpretation and is the initial step in establishing the cultural components in most archaeological contexts. From projectile points to millingstones, each artifact in the Lithics Lab is a piece of information used in reconstructing a cultural past. Objective analysis of these materials allows the researcher to define temporal, spatial, and functional attributes that may give some insight into the activities of past populations. Taken as a whole, these data represent the majority of the archaeological materials so far recorded in California and the Great Basin :::      


Flaked Stone //

::: Flaked stone tools and debitage (the waste flakes produced as a by-product of flaking stone) are by far the most common kinds of artifacts found at prehistoric sites in California and the Great Basin. The ARC systematically catalogues and analyzes the flaked stone material from all of its projects. The data-record includes the artifact's class, weight, and count, along with the artifact's provenience information. During the catalogue process, flaked stone artifacts are classified into general types. In addition to debitage, common flaked stone artifacts include cores, bifaces, projectile points, drills, and simple and formed flake tools. The information gathered from flaked stone analysis often is used in establishing cultural chronological sequences as in many cases projectile point types are temporally sensitive and specific artifact classes change over time to meet the needs of those using them. Chemical sourcing of certain material types, i.e. obsidian and basalt, gives insight into patterns of mobility and the possible importance of a particular source. Obsidian Hydration is a relative dating technique used to establish a date for a particular flaked stone artifact. Use wear analysis of the various artifact types help to determine the specific function or functions (if used for more than one purpose) of the tool itself, separate from the hypothesized function of the larger tool category. Such data help the researcher determine more finite placement of tools and the specific morphological variations that may occur across a specific tool or stylistic type :::

Brian James (Analyst)
Anthony Pohl (Analyst)


Ground Stone //

The first step in the reporting and interpretation of ground and battered stone artifacts entails basic morphological characterization. Many ground stone artifacts have forms designed to expedite a particular processing activity and some forms of milling equipment are hypothesized to have specific temporal or spatial distributions. Thus, artifacts are classed and typed (if applicable) into previously defined categories to facilitate analysis and interpretation. Classes are general categories (i.e., ground stone) and types tend towards the specific (mortar and pestle). Artifacts can be further sub-typed where appropriate (i.e., cylindrical pestle), and specific relevant attributes are noted (i.e. fire-cracked). Types of ground and battered stone artifacts include the mano (handstone), metate (millingslab), mortar, battered cobble and pestle.  In addition to reporting class and type, basic morpho-metrics are recorded along with use wear attributes (i.e., polish and pecking). Artifacts are also examined regarding their primary function. This line of inquiry can be pursued through direct and indirect means. Direct means, such as residue studies (pollen or starch grain analysis) require investigation by specialized laboratories. Another less direct approach commonly used to better assess the use of milling equipment, relies on relative frequencies. Gauging the relative amount of differing milling equipment can be used to identify important temporal or regional patterns. For example, increases in pestles/mortars relative to handstones/millingslabs over time may have important implications for expanding reliance on acorn :::




Department of Anthropology California State University, Sacramento 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819-6106
Phone: (916) 278-5330Fax: 278-4854 e-mail: arc@csus.edu