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A spatially explicit model of lithic raw material composition in archaeological assemblages

Author(s): Philip Fisher ; Luke Premo

Year: 2015

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Lithic studies have benefited from the increased availability of raw material provenience data. The ability to determine the source locations of obsidian artifacts through X-ray fluorescence, for example, provides archaeologists with another line of evidence for addressing questions concerning mobility, settlement patterns, trade, adaptions to environmental conditions, and subsistence strategies. Brantingham (2003, 2006) previously demonstrated the importance of "null" model expectations in interpreting raw material provenience data. Here, we present a spatially explicit model that provides "null" expectations of raw material composition in assemblages across a landscape for a given set of raw material source locations and simple assumptions about forager mobility and artifact deposition rates. We combine a landscape archaeological approach with simulation experiments to explore how different assumptions about forager mobility, raw material quality, and raw material procurement affect the relative frequencies of raw materials in assemblages. Although we focus on the results of a simple abstract model in this paper, the ultimate goal of the study is to develop a tool that can be used to produce "null" expectations of raw material composition in empirical archaeological assemblages given the locations of the actual raw material sources of a region.

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A spatially explicit model of lithic raw material composition in archaeological assemblages. Philip Fisher, Luke Premo. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395149)


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America