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In Memory of John Wilburn Clark, Jr.

By Wendy Clark

Historical archeologist John Wilburn Clark, Jr. passed away on Sunday, May 24th. He was seventy-six years old.

A lifelong Austin, Texas resident, John initially went to the University of Texas at Austin to refine his artistic skills. However, after venturing on a field trip with an anthropology professor, he soon developed a lifelong passion for anthropology and archeology and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Anthropology. He later attended graduate school at the University of Arkansas and became a Registered Professional Archeologist. His knowledge base was expansive, enabling him to identify historical architectural styles, ceramics, and other artefacts. Though his interest in archeology was broad and spanned continents, he further specialized in Texas historical archeology and contributed extensively to current understanding of Spanish Colonial and Texas history. His work has been used to preserve and protect numerous historical sites.

Among his publications and contributions were: Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo: Archaeological Investigations, December 1974, 1978; La Reina Norteña: History and Archaeology of San Jose Mission, 1980; “Historical Antecedents Beyond the Texas Border” in A Texas Legacy, the Old San Antonio Road and the Caminos Reales, 1998; and many others. He was a contributor to such journals as the Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society, and regularly wrote extensive reports for the Texas Department of Transportation.

John’s passion for history and archaeology took him to many places, including Mexico, where he met his wife of forty-two years. A dedicated husband and father, John supported his wife and children throughout his life. He was also a doting grandfather who delighted in and encouraged his granddaughter’s artistic skills.

John is survived by his wife, Gloria Clark; three children, Wendy Clark, Ellen Dass, and Ashley Balcom; one grandchild, Aislyn; and a sister, Linda Clark.

Donations in memory of John W. Clark, Jr. can be made to the Texas Archeological Research Lab (TARL), at the University of Texas at Austin. Online donations can be made using the link https://utdirect.utexas.edu/apps/utgiving/online/nlogon/?menu=LA**&source=LWE. Be sure to select TARL from the drop-down menu. Use the blank to enter John’s name and use the “special information” to indicate Friends’ Group. Mail-in donations can be sent to TARL, 1 University Station, R7500, Austin, Texas 78712 and indicate on your check in memory of John W. Clark, Jr.

2020 Texas Archeology Month Preperations

 

October 10th from 10 AM to 2 PM at the JJ Pickle Research Campus of UT Austin.

For four years, we have had the great pleasure of hosting the Texas Archeology Month Fair. A variety of organizations, institutions and companies have contributed interactive experiences through an assortment of archaeological displays and hands-on activities.  In celebration of the fifth year since the fair’s re-institution in 2016, we are bringing Austin an even bigger and better opportunity to engage with the history of Texas. Building on the successes of previous fairs, the 2020 fair will provide even greater opportunities for participation from the local Texas archeological community. At no cost to participate, this is an ideal opportunity for your organization to reach the public as an exhibitor or for your firm to donate in support of their outreach goals. Donations of just $100-$200 would go far in establishing the TARL Fair fund. Through contributions we will address the limitations from years past. We will secure stronger advertisement targeting our public audience and provide more appealing amenities. Among our already 26 confirmed exhibitors, we are delighted to announce new involvement from the Buffalo Soldiers and the larger Austin community with a classic Austinite array of food trucks. This extension of the fair is expected to attract a larger audience than previously reached in the fair’s recent history.

Along with our community, TARL has had to adjust in the current crisis and like our ancestors we adapt. Amidst these events we are still looking forward and in the deference of limited time for planning we are sharing our preparation progress and future plans for the 2020 Texas Archeology Month Fair. While we are planning for future normalcy we will continue to adjust with the ongoing situation. A contingency plan is already being formed in the event that the current COVID-19 crisis is still limiting public gatherings in the fall. In such a case, donors will be given the option of a reimbursement or the option for the funds to be retained for use in the following 2021 TAM fair. The TARL Fair fund is yet another way in which we are securing the future of the Fair as any contributions will be retained with the sole purpose of use in the future fair.  Our greatest commitment is to promote preservation and public edification of the great Texas archeological legacy. It would be our pleasure if you would join us in that endeavor.

Here at TARL we think Texas archaeology is a big deal. So please, help us celebrate archeology the Texas way!

The fair is free and open to the public. Tables and chairs will be provided for the exhibitors. More details will be provided over the next couple of months. For more information or inquiries into participation, please contact Annie Riegert at dariegert@utexas.edu and Clark Wernecke at Clark.Wernecke@austin.utexas.edu.

 

 

Abstract for a Special Brown Bag Jan. 17th!

The Carl Yahnig Little River Clovis Collection:

A Recent Acquisition for GSAR

 

Alan M. Slade and Mike B. Collins

 

In December 2019 the GSAR and TARL (Texas Archeological Research Laboratory) were fortunate to acquire on a three-year loan, a remarkable Clovis assemblage. Over a period of more than 40 years, Carl Yahnig has collected artifacts from around his property and surrounding area in Christian County, Kentucky. The collection of nearly 20,000 pieces that include stone tools and debitage are from a complex of Clovis single-component workshop sites that lie in southwestern Kentucky; the Adams site (Sanders 1990), and a series of five other workshops, Ezell, Roeder, Boyd-Ledford, Brame, and Brinnon (Yahnig all known as the Little River Clovis Complex (Figure. 1).

Figure.1 Location of the Sites in Christian County, Kentucky. (photo C. Yahnig)

The lithic raw material that the assemblage is made on is predominantly a local variety of Ste. Genevieve chert (> 90 %,), the rest of the artefacts are made on are Dover chert from Tennessee, and an unknown unnamed local chert. The six workshop sites are spaced 1-2 km apart along the course of the Little River. Other Clovis artifacts occur downstream from these sites and are evidence of further Clovis occupation (Gramly and Yahnig 1991). Each of Mr. Yahnig’s workshop sites has in its assemblage a complete Clovis manufacturing sequence, from primary flakes struck from the toolstone nodule through to late-phase fluted preform / early-phase completed fluted point, which we believe are comparatively rare in North America. Other Clovis manufacturing workshops are present in the archeological record, such as Thunderbird (Gardner 1977) and Williamson (Peck 1981) in Virginia, Carson-Conn-Short in Tennessee (Broster and Norton 1993) and Ready-Lincoln in Illinois (Morrow 1995). The Little River Clovis collection represents the only complete manufacturing sequence from Clovis Paleoindian sites made on predominantly one lithic raw material. Although surface-collected, Mr. Yahnig has collected every worked piece of stone he recovered; therefore, this collection has an extensive representation of the debitage that is associated with the tool manufacture, allowing for the possibility of re-fitting sequences. In fact, Mr. Yahnig has already previously recorded several conjoining artifacts, one example was two sections of a late-phase Clovis fluted preform found several yards away from one another and recovered five years apart (C Yahnig pers. comm. December 2019).

The authors of this paper and staff at GSAR and TARL would like to thank Mr. Carl Yahnig for his generous loan and for the opportunity to study this remarkable collection.

Figure 2a and Figure 2b A sample of Clovis artifacts from the Adams site in Kentucky. (photo C. Yahnig 2009)

 

References

Broster, J.B., and M.R. Norton. 1993 The Carson-Conn-Short site (40BN190): an extensive Clovis habitation in Benton County, Tennessee. Current Research in the Pleistocene 10: 3-4.

Gramly, M.R., and C. Yahnig. 1991 The Adams Site (15CH90) and the Little River, Christian County, Kentucky, Clovis Workshop Complex. Southeastern Archaeology 10: 134-145.

Morrow, J.E. 1995 Clovis Point Manufacture: A Perspective from the Ready / Lincoln Hills Site in Jersey County, Illinois. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 20 (2): 167-191.

Sanders, T.N. 1990 Adams: The Manufacturing of Flaked Stone Tools at a Paleoindian Site in Western Kentucky Persimmon Press, Buffalo, New York.

Yahnig, C. 2009 My One Hundred and One Artifacts from the Little River Clovis Complex from Christian County, Kentucky. Hynek Printing, Richland Center, Wisconsin.

2019 Texas Archeology Month Fair

Much thanks to all who participated and attended the 2019 Texas Archeology Month Fair! With the help of 78 student volunteers and our local professional and avocational archeologists, TARL was able to hold another successful Texas Archeology Month Fair!  This year’s fair was attended by 303 guests who were able to visit representatives from 22 different museums, archaeological organizations, and student groups. These groups had booths with a wide array of activities including atlatl throwing, ochre painting, multiple show and tell displays, flintknapping, interactive dance demonstrations, and much more! Much gratitude also goes to our generous donors including the Council of Texas Archeologists, the Texas Historical Commission, the Travis County Archaeological Society, AR Consultants, and the Gault School of Archaeological Research.

 

Check out some of the highlights from the fair below! (Photos courtesy of Tom Williams, Gault School of Archaeological Research)

 

      

Great Promise for American Indians conducted a dance demonstration and pulled the crowd in to learn a snake dance.


Christopher Ringstaff, Sergio Ayala, and Robert Lassen demonstrate flintknapping.


Student volunteers show fair attendees how to use the Atlatl.

Keva  Boardman  shows  our  younger  attendees  how  to  paint  with fat  and  ochre.

  Kenneth Headrick discusses real artifacts vs. reproductions.

ARCHAEOLOGY DAY 2019 AT THE MUSEUM

On October 19, 2019, The Falls on the Colorado Museum will host its second Archeology Day program from 9:30 am until 3:30 pm.  This program will provide the public with a discussion of ongoing research in Texas archaeology.  The program will be followed by an artifact identification event (“show and tell”) during which local collectors and others can share their finds and obtain help in identifying specimens.

At 10 am, Dr. Thomas R. Hester will start program with a discussion of “Trade and  Technology: Ancient Stone Tools in Texas.”  Dr. Hester is Professor of Anthropology, emeritus, at UT-Austin, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the museum.

Following Dr. Hester will be Clint McKenzie, speaking on “Archaeology, Radiocarbon Dates and Summary of Black Vulture Rockshelter, Bandera County, Texas”.  Mr. McKenzie is working on his doctorate at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Following these two presentations, light refreshments will be available.

During the afternoon program, from 1-3:30, Dr. Hester and colleagues will help identify artifacts and discuss collections. Their only request is that large, cased collections be limited to one frame due to space.

The museum does not charge admission, but relies on donations from our visitors. Regular museum hours are Thursday through Saturday, from 10-4.  The museum is located at 2001 Broadway, Marble Falls.  Phone 830.798.2157.

Please visit our website:  www.fallsmuseum.org.  

 

 

 

Re-examination of the Ceramic Vessel Sherds and Pipe Sherds from the A. C. Saunders Site (41AN19), Anderson County, Texas

Timothy K. Perttula

Introduction

 

            The A. C. Saunders site (41AN19) is an important ancestral Caddo settlement in the upper Neches River basin in East Texas (Figure 1a). The site is one of only a few ancestral Caddo sites with mound features in the upper Neches River basin, particularly those that are known to date after ca. A.D. 1400, but this part of the upper Neches River basin, including its many tributaries, such as Caddo Creek just to the south and west (see Perttula and Walters 2016), was widely settled by Caddo farmers after that time. These Caddo groups left behind evidence of year-round occupied settlements with house structures, middens, and outdoor activity areas, impressive artifact assemblages, as well as the creation of numerous cemeteries (Figure 1b), most apparently the product of use by families or lineage groups.

 

Figure 1. The A. C. Saunders site in the upper Neches River basin: a, important excavated Caddo sites in the Caddo Creek valley and surrounding drainages in Anderson and Henderson counties, Texas; b, known Caddo cemetery and domestic sites.

 

What makes the A. C. Saunders site unique in upper Neches River basin Caddo archaeology are the two mound features there, situated on a broad upland landform less than a mile west of the Neches River and a comparable distance north of the confluence of Caddo Creek with the Neches River. The first mound (Feature 1) is an ash mound that has been linked with the use of fire temples and perpetual fires by the xinesi of Hasinai Caddo groups in historic times (Jackson 1936; Kleinschmidt 1982, 1984; Perttula 1992; Wyckoff and Baugh 1980). The second mound, not far to the southeast (Figure 2a), is a thick midden mound (Feature 2) that was deliberately accumulated over a large structure (Feature 3, Figure 2b). The concentrated midden accumulation near the ash mound suggests it may represent the remains of multiple feasting events and other ritual activities where large amounts of food were consumed, clay pipes were smoked, and cooking and serving vessels were used, and thus the discarded fragments of these activities creating the midden deposits. These items constitute a discrete and substantial corpus of material culture remains that have played a large role in defining and framing the archaeological character of what has come to be known as the Late Caddo period Frankston phase (ca. A.D. 1400-1680); the A. C. Saunders site is the quintessential Frankston phase site in East Texas. As such, these material culture remains curated at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin—in particular the large number of ceramic vessel sherds and ceramic pipe sherds from Feature 2 at the A. C. Saunders site—warrant continued archaeological study as a means to better understand the stylistic and technological character of the ceramic vessels and pipes made and used by ancestral Caddo peoples in the upper Neches River basin (Perttula 2011, 2013, 2019). The remainder of the material culture assemblage included Perdiz arrow points, stone drills, mussel shell digging tools, an assortment of bone tools (awls, needles, and beamers), and shell columnella beads.

a.

 

 

b

Figure 2b

Figure 2. A. C. Saunders site: a, plan map of the site; b, plan map of Feature 3 underneath the midden mound.

 

Ceramic Vessel Sherds

            A total of 7344 ceramic sherds have been recovered from Feature 2 at the A. C. Saunders site from plain ware, utility ware, and fine ware vessels; of these, approximately 82 percent (n=6001) are from a known arbitrary level in Feature 2. The plain rim, body, and base sherds comprise approximately 21 percent of the vessel sherd assemblage, and the fine ware sherds account for another 8.8 percent of the assemblage. Utility ware sherds are by far the most common in Feature 2 at the site, representing approximately 70 percent of the ceramic wares. The plain to decorated sherd ratio for the Feature 2 assemblage is a low 0.27.

Defined utility ware types identified in the ceramic vessel sherds (from jars) include Bullard Brushed, Killough Pinched, La Rue Neck Banded, Lindsey Grooved, and Maydelle Incised, as well as sherds from two new types: Mann Punctated (with tool punctated elements on the rim and /or body), and Saunders Punctated (with fingernail punctated elements on the rim and/or body). Based on the number of rim sherds, the most common utility wares are Maydelle Incised (n=64, Figure 3a), Bullard Brushed (n=56, Figure 3b), Saunders Punctated (n=38, Figure 3c), and Mann Punctated (n=26, Figure 3d).

Figure 3a,
Figure 3b
Figure 3c
Figure 3d

Figure 3. Common utility ware types at the A. C. Saunders site: a, Maydelle Incised; b, Bullard Brushed; c, Saunders Punctated; d, Mann Punctated.

 

The fine ware sherds are from carinated bowls primarily from a number of varieties of Poynor Engraved (n=68 rim sherds), particularly var. Cook (n=32 rim sherds) (Figure 4a) and var. Hood (n=13 rim sherds) (Figure 4b), as well as Hood Engraved and Hume Engraved vessels. The predominance of var. Cook and var. Hood vessels suggests that Feature 2 at the A. C. Saunders site accumulated between the early 15th century and the mid-late 16th century (see Perttula 2011:Table 6-37). Hood Engraved effigy bowls were also most commonly manufactured by Caddo potters during that era in the upper Neches River basin.

Figure 4a
Figure 4b

Figure 4. Most common Poynor Engraved varieties at the A. C. Saunders site: a, var. Cook; b, var. Hood.

 

The sherds from the A. C. Saunders site are from vessels tempered almost exclusively with grog (i.e., fired clay and/or crushed sherds). Between 98.3-98.6 percent of the sherds by ware have grog temper inclusions. Other temper inclusions, such as burned bone and hematite, were commonly added to the grog-tempered paste, and with regularity in the case of hematite in all three wares (11.7-21.1 percent). The few sherds in the different wares that have crushed and burned bone range from 9.1 percent in the plain wares, 9.9 percent in the utility wares, and 9.0 percent in the fine wares.

 

In addition to the 7300+ sherds from plain ware, utility ware, and fine ware vessels, there are other distinctive characteristics of the Frankston phase assemblage at the A. C. Saunders site. These include strap and lug handles (n=85) on utility ware jars, pedestal legs and bases (n=13) from Killough Pinched jars, spindle whorls (n=29), and one ceramic bead.

 

Ceramic Pipe Sherds

           

            The A. C. Saunders artifact assemblage from Feature 2 has one complete ceramic pipe and 89 stem and bowl sherds. These pipes are from several defined pipe varieties in the upper Neches River basin (see Perttula 2011). Two of the pipe sherds in the assemblage are part of two different circular platform pipes that have either a series of upper and lower large excised pendant triangles or hatched engraved triangles on either side of the platform.

 

The remainder of the ceramic pipes and pipe sherds are from elbow pipes, including sherds from Var. A (n=7), Var. B (n=16), Var. C (n=5), Var. D (n=1), and Var. G (n=14), the Neches pipe (Jackson 1933). Another 45 sherds cannot be assigned to a defined Upper Neches River basin elbow pipe variety.

 

The Var. A elbow pipe sherds have plain stems and bowls. They range from at least 64-76.0 mm in length, have smoothed exterior surfaces, and have rounded lips; one Var. A pipe has a flat distal knob. Var. B elbow pipes have between two to six horizontal incised or engraved lines on the stem (Figure 5a), and several examples also have horizontal incised lines on the lower bowl and stem or the distal stem knob, or engraved lines on the pipe bowl.

Figure 5a
Figure 5b
Figure 5c

Figure 5. Selected ceramic pipe sherds and pipes from the A. C. Saunders site: a, Var. B. pipe sherd (No. 62); b, Var. C pipe sherd (No. 14); c, Var. G pipe (No. 50) with punctated rows on the collared bowl rim, at the stem, and at the lower stem.

 

Four of the Var. C pipe sherds have two to five horizontal incised lines on the stem as well as vertical incised lines on the lower stem (see Figure 5b). One pipe sherd has both horizontal and vertical incised lines on the stem as well as a row of tool punctations adjacent to the vertical incised lines. The one Var. D elbow pipe sherd in the A. C. Saunders assemblage is grog-bone-tempered and smoothed on its exterior surface. The stem is decorated with five horizontal incised lines while the lower stem has at least two vertical rows of tool punctations.

The Var. G elbow pipes and pipe sherds have several different decorative element combinations, including incised or engraved lines on the stem between punctated rows beneath the lip or with rows of circular punctations on the lower stem. Other Var. G pipes have punctated rows on the stem or on the lower stem, or have tool punctated rows on both the stem and lower stem. The one complete Var. G elbow pipe (see Figure 5c) is decorated on the bowl, the stem, and the lower stem. There are small circular punctated rows on the bowl lip, five rows of circular punctations at the base of the stem and bowl, and five rows of circular punctations on the stem below the lip. Several of these circular punctations have a kaolin-rich clay pigment rubbed in the punctations.

 

References Cited

Jackson, A. T.

1933    Some Pipes of East Texas. Bulletin of the Texas Archeological and Paleontological Society 5:69-86.

1936    A Perpetual Fire Site. Bulletin of the Texas Archeological and Paleontological Society 8:134-174.

Kleinschmidt, U.

1982    Review and Analysis of the A. C. Saunders Site, 41AN19, Anderson County, Texas. Master’s thesis, Department of Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin.

1984    The A. C. Saunders Site Revisited: A Hasinai Fire Temple? Paper presented at the 26th Caddo Conference, Nacogdoches.

Perttula, T. K.

1992    “The Caddo Nation”: Archaeological & Ethnohistoric Perspectives. University of Texas Press, Austin.

2011    The Ceramic Artifacts from the Lang Pasture Site (41AN38) and the Place of the Site within an Upper Neches River Basin Caddo Ceramic Tradition. In Archeological Investigations at the Lang Pasture Site (41AN38) in the Upper Neches River Basin of East Texas, assembled and edited by Timothy K. Perttula, David B. Kelley, and Robert A. Ricklis, pp. 145-320. Archeological Studies Program Report No. 129, Texas Department of Transportation, Environmental Affairs Division, Austin.

2013    Caddo Ceramics in East Texas. Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 84:181-212.

2019    East Texas Caddo Ceramic Traditions. In Ancestral Caddo Ceramic Traditions, edited by D. P. McKinnon, J. S. Girard, and T. K. Perttula. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, in press.

Perttula, T. K. and M. Walters

2016    Caddo Archaeology in the Caddo Creek Valley of the Upper Neches River basin, Anderson and Henderson Counties, Texas. Special Publication No. 43. Friends of Northeast Texas Archaeology, Austin and Pittsburg.

Wyckoff, D. G. and T. G. Baugh

1980    Early Historic Hasinai Elites: A Model for the Material Culture of Governing Elites. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 5:225-283.

TARL Workshop: Methods in Dental Pathological Data Collection!

Our wonderful participants and instructors all gloved and masked up per TARL protocol.

This past weekend, TARL had the pleasure of hosting instructors from Texas State University, Caroline Znachko and Lauren Koutlias, for our methods in dental pathological data collection. The studies received a series of lectures where the instructors presented on tooth identification in the morning and dental pathology in the afternoon.

Instructor Caroline Znachko aiding students in tooth identification. 

Each lecture was followed by hands on tooth identification and pathology identification with case studies from TARL. These case studies allowed participants to observe a series of individuals marked by supernumerary teeth, abscesses affecting the alveolar process around dentition, linear enamel hypoplasias, and caries. Participants learned methods for recording both dental presence and all of the unique characteristics of each dental arcade.

Instructor Lauren Koutlias aiding in participants in dental pathology identification. 

We are grateful to our expert instructors for sharing their knowledge with our participants and thank you to all of our wonderful participants for taking part of your weekend to participate in this TARL workshop! TARL looks forward to having more successful workshops in the near future!

To suggest future workshops or to aid in providing a workshop please contact TARL staff in the comments section or through email.

TARL Internship Program Update for the 2019-2020 Long Session!

 

We are delighted to announce that all TARL internship spots are taken for the 2019-2020 long session! Our interns are integral in achieving our mission here at TARL and we are thrilled that the UT students have eagerly sought out these positions. The internship program provides students with the opportunity to explore their interests in archaeology and best practices in curation. If you are an interested student please reach out about our open internship spots for the 2020-2021 sessions.

 

 

TAS Curation Task Force: Training and Curation Days

TARL has been delighted to host a series of curation workshops in conjunction with the Texas Archeological Society. Two three-day workshops focused on collections management, curation ethics, proper curation techniques and  aiding in the repackaging of artifacts from TAS field schools including Musk Hog, Oblate, and data entry for the Columbus field school. Attendees received hands-on experience in processing artifacts, creating condition
assessments for field and lab reports, database systems inventorying and artifact tag creation along with box tag creation. We are delighted to be continuing this series of curation workshops by supporting the regular TAS  curation day over the weekend once a month.

TAS participants inventorying artifacts.

To all of our wonderful attendees and TAS members, thank you for your support of Texas Archaeology!

Microwear Analysis of Experimental and Artifactual Burin Tools from the Edd Melton Site, 41BL1138, Bell County, Texas.

David G. Robinson and Marilyn Shoberg

 

The analysis and write-up of the 2002 TAS Field School excavations at the Edd Melton Site in Bell County, Texas, yielded surprising finds. After excavation and inventorying, the Edd Melton Site assemblage showed an interesting co-occurrence of burin spalls and the unusual finds of 24 perforated freshwater mussel shells.  Burin spalls are tools struck deliberately at an approximate ninety-degree angle to the face of the flake or core. A working hypothesis that burin spalls were tools used for working the mussel shells was formulated after Prof. Fred Valdez of UT-Austin alerted the authors to the meaningful correlation of burin spalls and carved shell.  In Valdez’s work in the Mayan culture area of Belize, long burin spalls are associated with carved shell (Valdez, pers. Com.).  It is accepted generally in Mayan archeology that specialized burins are tools for working shell artifacts.

The hypothesis derived from this correlation is direct: the site burins were tools to carve, perforate, and drill the perforated mussel shell on the site.  It was decided to test the hypothesis by conducting an experiment of high magnification examination of site burins and comparing them to burins worked experimentally on modern shell.

The conduct of the experiment proceeded timewise in two phases. The first phase involved the production of chert burin spalls and their application to modern shell surfaces to identify actual shell wear on tools.  The second phase was the high magnification use-wear analysis of both the experimental burins and the archeologic burins recovered from the Edd Melton site.  Relevant patterns could then be compared with reliability.  Christopher W. Ringstaff of The Texas Department of Transportation kindly donated expert skill and Bell County chert material to produce the experimental burin spalls. Marilyn Shoberg of TARL and Texas State University conducted the second phase of the experiment.  All the microscope work was conducted at the Microscopy Laboratory, the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, UT-Austin. This study of the combination of experimental archeology and microwear analysis is reported in great detail in the report on 41BL1138 forthcoming in the Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society in the fall of 2019.

The analytical method for microwear analysis is patterned after the work of Semenov (1964) comparing a complex of wear traces including edge damage, micropolishes, and striations to those attributes on experimental tool analogs at magnifications greater than 100x.  Keeley (1980) improved the “high-power approach” to include kinematics of use or angle of attack to describe more clearly how striations in micropolish reflect the action used in specific tasks.  The microscope at TARL used for this analysis is a reflected-light differential-interference Olympus BH2 microscope with Nomarski optics.  The interpretation of wear traces is based on comparison with experimental tool analogs used in a broad range of experiments.  In conjunction with the analysis of this sample of four small tools from 41BL1138, experimental burins were used individually cutting, drilling, slicing, and graving fresh water mollusk shell; and analyzed for reference.

The analysis indicates that three of the small tools from the site were used in manufacturing tasks on shell; two used as drills, one used cutting.  One tool was used cutting soft animal tissue.  One of the drills has additional use of one edge in scraping shell.

The photomicrograph shows the wear on one of the two archaeological tools used drilling shell.

Burin spall 123, lateral  facet @ 500x;  overlapping groups of subparallel troughs in bright platy micropolish originate at the edge of a flake scar at the utilized end of the burin.  The tip of the tool is beyond the bottom of the photomicrograph.  The orientation of the striations (arrows) to the edge of the tool reflect the kinematics of use or angle of attack, i.e. sequential actions parallel and oblique to the tip as in piercing and twisting motions.

Experimental burin spall used drilling shell @ 500x.  Smooth subparallel troughs of variable width in micropolish reflect the angle of attack when the drill bit was inserted into the shell.  Sharp single striations across the long sleeks are from grit particles dragged across the edge in a subsequent action.  Patches of very bright angular debris are embedded in the polish.

The diagnostic wear traces observed in this study of experimental burins used on fresh water mollusk shell are bright patches of platy micropolish with long subparallel troughs of variable width, and with angular particles or bright debris of considerable variability in size embedded in the micropolish.

 

References Cited

Keeley, L.

1980   Experimental Determination of Stone Tool Uses: A Microwear Analysis.  University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Semenov, S.

1964   Prehistoric Technology.  Cory, Adams & Mackay, London.