Current Approaches to the Analysis and Interpretation of Small Lithic Sites in the Northeast


Small lithic sites (or scatters) represent one of the most common site types identified in the Northeast. These sites are commonly identified in both upland and lowland settings and represent areas where resource extraction, processing, and collection often take place. Some of these small sites may also contain residual evidence of overnight or temporary lodging and meal preparation activities (Piles and Wilcox 1978; Means 1999; Rieth 2003a; Shen 2001). In this way, these small sites offer a view of life beyond residential and community boundaries (Lennox 1995). Small lithic sites are also not limited to a single culture-historic period but rather span the region’s entire 12,000-year history of human occupation (Funk 1976; Ritchie and Funk 1973; Snow 1980).

Despite the prominence of these sites across the Northeast, small lithic sites are the least commonly referenced site type in the archaeological literature and are considered by some archaeologists as the most difficult site type to deal with when assessing research potential and function (Barber 2001; Carr, this volume; Lennox 1995). The limited artifact assemblages, absence of complex and formal work areas, and limited number of features often result in the conclusion that these sites have little or no research potential.

It is with this idea in mind that the current volume is presented. Fourteen of the chapters in the volume were presented as papers in a symposium entitled “Current Approaches to the Analysis and Interpretation of Small Lithic Sites” held at the New York State Museum in Albany in November 2003. These papers are couched in between an introduction and concluding chapter. The primary goal of this colloquium was to provide a venue within which the importance and significance of small lithic sites could be discussed by including prehistoric archaeologists, cultural resource managers, and state and federal historic preservation officers from across the region.

Cite this Record

Current Approaches to the Analysis and Interpretation of Small Lithic Sites in the Northeast. Christina Rieth, Robert J. Hasenstab, Timothy L. Binzen, Edward V. Curtin, Kerry L. Nelson, Jessica Schreyer, Niels R. Rinehart, Brian D. Jones, Philip A. Perazio, David J. Bernstein, Michael J. Lenardi, Sara A. Grills, Brian Grills, Laurie Rush, Amy Wood, Margaret Schulz, Cynthia M. Blakemore, Nancy Herter, Douglas Mackey, Patricia E. Miller, Nina Versaggi, Christopher D. Hohman, Kurt W. Carr, Christina Rieth. New York State Museum Bulletin Series ,508. Albany, NY: The New York State Education Department. 2008 ( tDAR id: 391812) ; doi:10.6067/XCV88K7C8H

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min long: -80.925; min lat: 39.402 ; max long: -66.467; max lat: 47.606 ;

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