The Lithic Assemblage
Lithic materials refers to stone tools and the byproducts of how they were made. Through meticulous observation and measurements, lithic materials have much to tell about life and technology of the past. In the process of analyzing lithic materials, the first task is to organize the assemblage into categories that reflect something about tool form or how it was made, including waste products from tool manufacture (archaeologists call this waste material debitage). For this project, categories include projectile points, bifaces, unifaces, blades, blade cores, utilized/modified flakes, flake cores, debitage, hammerstones, manos and metates (prehistoric mortars and pestles), and other abraded or ground stones. Once sorted, priority was given to materials that were recovered from contexts that could be dated by one method or another. Analysis of Zatopec's lithic materials addressed the following questions:
1) what is the diversity of the tool kit(s) found at residential aggregation sites?
2) What can the characteristics of different technological systems tell us about how people obtained food and other resources?
3) How might technological systems have been organized according to divisions of labor and uneven skill levels over time?
These questions represent two of the previously defined research domains. A combination of qualitative (observation) and quantitative (measurement) methods were used to analyze artifacts and reveal patterns in the lithic material, and you can learn about the process and the results in the following pages.