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Caddo Archeology Journal

Abstract

The intent of the lithic analysis from the Leaning Rock site (41SM325) in Smith County, Texas, is to glean all possible information from the artifacts. Lithic studies have taken the back seat in materials analysis from sites and projects in East Texas where archaeologists focus primarily, if not exclusively, on formal tool analysis, if any analysis is done at all. Stone tools often had complex histories, and reading these histories can provide some useful, if not the only source for, insights into tool technologies, function, style, and social inferences. Stone tools were used in entirely different functional contexts than were ceramics, and provide complimentary and often unique information not provided by any other material artifact class.

The lithic analysis was conducted fi rst to provide a descriptive report of the sample, and second to assess stylistic, chronological, functional, and behavioral information where possible. Smith County is an impoverished region in terms of lithic natural resources (Banks 1990). The materials available to the prehistoric Woodland and Caddo populations consisted mainly of orthoquartzite pebbles from extensively reworked Uvalde Pliocene gravels, small chert pebbles, silicified wood, ferruginous sandstone, and hematite. The orthoquartzite, chert, and silicified wood occur as secondary deposits in local streams. Imported chert, or rarely novaculite, can often be identified in finished artifacts such as dart points, arrow points, and finely finished biface knives (Shafer 1973:343). In the latter cases, the artifacts themselves were most likely introduced in finished form. Ground stone artifacts such as celts also were imported in finished form from Caddo populations that had access to the lithic resources found in the Ouachita Mountains of eastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas (Shafer 1973:308).

Given the impoverished nature of the locally available lithic resources, one of the objectives of the debitage analysis was to plot the raw material types. Technological information was limited because of the very small and fragmentary nature of the flakes and other debitage. Despite this shortcoming, some interesting observations regarding technology were possible, such as the identification of punch-produced thinning flakes and bipolar technology. The latter may have been primarily associated with silicified wood and chert pieces used as wedges to split wood. More on this topic is presented below with the discussion of “battered pieces” or wedges.

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