Bedrock features (mortars, slicks and grooves): Documentation, analysis and interpretation

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Recent advances in global studies of bedrock features (e.g. mortars, slicks, grooves, etc.), suggest that these reflect a more varied, multifaceted archaeological phenomenon than previously thought. Nonetheless, while there are an increasing number of studies dealing with these sometimes enigmatic features, we still understand very little about their archaeological, cultural and spiritual contexts. The complex nature of bedrock features suggests that changes in their basic attributes (morphology, metrics and context) across time and space reflect variation in production and utilization on the one hand and economic and social aspects on the other.We seek to include papers with various theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of bedrock features, with no geographic or chronological limitations. Papers can focus on functional studies of bedrock features (e.g. use-wear and residue analyses), methodological or documentation aspects, ethnographic or ethno-archaeological studies, and descriptive analysis of specific sites rich in bedrock features. Papers addressing the symbolic or ritual significance of bedrock features, such as their use in ceremonial contexts, or as shrines or landmarks, are most welcome.

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  • Documents (9)

  • Bedrock features and cupmarks-bearing boulders: An overview of a Natufian and PPNA phenomenon (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Danny Rosenberg. Dani Nadel.

    The Natufian–Pre-Pottery Neolithic A transition (ca. 11,500 Cal BP years ago) in the southern Levant is evident in many aspects of the material remains, and reflects pronounced socio-economic changes. One of the most fundamental changes is documented for bedrock features such as mortars, basins and cupmarks. While during the Natufian we find bedrock features mainly in 'public' contexts near or within sites, it seems that during the following PPNA period these were also introduced into the...

  • Boulders, outcrops, caves: a proposed method for documentation of cultural landscape features demonstrated in San Diego County, California (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dani Nadel. Margie Burton. Jenny Adams. Mark Willis. Laure Dubreuil.

    Ubiquitous cultural features such as mortars, basins and slicks on rock outcrops, boulders, and cave floors attest to the long history of human use of landscape features. Although widely noted, methods for systematic investigation of such features lag behind well-developed study protocols for other archaeological material categories. Answers to questions such as how cultural landscape features were manufactured, how they were used, and how they were incorporated into the spatial organization of...

  • Ground Stone Landscapes of the Ancestral Pueblo World (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alison Damick. Severin Fowles.

    The lives of pre-Columbian communities in New Mexico were anchored and shaped by stone features in the landscape. Stones were pecked, ground, and piled into cairns or circles; ethnographic evidence from descendant communities suggest certain stones received offerings of corn pollen, antlers, or prayer sticks; in other cases, parts of stones were removed as potent medicine, either as stone powder or flakes; elsewhere, it was the abrasive contact between fixed bedrock and tools that appears to...

  • Groundstone Shrines of the Pueblo Southwest (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Samuel Duwe.

    The Pueblos of the American Southwest define their sacred geographies by using ground boulders and bedrock shrines (cupules, slicks, grooves, and channels) to establish land tenure, reflect cosmologies and religious organization, and to record history. Based on ethnography and Pueblo collaboration we know that these places mark the remains of the deceased, act as communication nodes with the spiritual world, and delineate social boundaries. Because these landscapes (and their associated shrines)...

  • Intra- and Inter-Site Geometrical High-Resolution Analyses of Deep Natufian Bedrock Mortars (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sagi Filin. Vera Miller. Danny Rosenberg. Dani Nadel.

    Bedrock features such as mortars and cupmarks are known in the southern Levant at least from the late 1920's. Many were dated to the Natufian and the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A periods (15,000-10,500 calBP). Likely, the appearance of large and diverse bedrock feature assemblages, reflecting a variety of functions, has played an integral role in the earliest transition from hunting-gathering to food producing economies. So far, research was limited due to the lack of precise documentation of these...

  • Methods for Examining and Creating a Typology of Bedrock Features in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Amanda Castaneda.

    Bedrock features are a common archaeological occurrence in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of southwest Texas. These occur in a wide range of forms, from polished "slicks", cupules, and small grinding facets to large, deep, well-developed mortar holes. Even though relatively common, bedrock features, and ground stone in general, have received very little directed research in the region. This paper discusses ongoing research which uses a multi-faceted approach to examine bedrock feature attributes at...

  • Residues of ancient food preparation in sheltered bedrock features (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tammy Buonasera. Jelmer Eerkens. Dani Nadel. Amanda Castaneda. Steve Black.

    Recent analysis of bedrock features located in several dry rock shelters across the arid western U.S. indicate that such settings provide favorable contexts for organic residue preservation. Residues extracted from these contexts can provide a unique window into past functions and resource use. Gas chromatography / mass spectrometry (GC/MS) was used to identify and quantify very small amounts of lipids absorbed and preserved in the various bedrock features. Though organic residue studies are...

  • Shiny grooved surfaces: the case study of the Skiles rockshelter, Lower Pecos, Texas (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eli Crater Gershtein. Steve Black. Amanda Castaneda. Tammy Boanasera. Daniel Nadel.

    Shiny grooved surfaces are common in rock shelters and cave sites in the Lower Pecos region, Texas. They are found on horizontal as well as vertical exposures, usually in close association with mortars and/or rock art. The shiny appearance has been interpreted as the result of human traffic, hand touching, animal sacrifice, etc. In many cases these surfaces are densely grooved and incised by a variety of shallow and deep marks which are not found outside the shiny surface. Such phenomena have...

  • Socialized Landscapes of the Southern Plains: Bedrock Ground Stone Surfaces on the Chaquaqua Plateau, Colorado (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elizabeth Lynch. Tom Noble. Neffra Matthews.

    Prehistoric peoples of the Southern Plains created bedrock ground stone surfaces in rockshelters along upper canyon rims on exposed Dakota Sandstone. These bedrock milling features became centers for the reproduction of food and other resources but also developed into anchored places that facilitated the reproduction of socio-cultural values and norms. The socialization of the Southern Plains prehistoric landscape is most visible in the material culture remains of bedrock milling features that...