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Analyzing activity areas when only one material remains: The interpretation of low density, "empty" spaces in open air Middle Paleolithic sites

Author(s): Amy Clark

Year: 2015

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Summary

It is common for open air sites dating to the Pleistocene to lack organic preservation, including bone. Many of these sites also do not contain features such as hearths. Therefore, the dominant signal that remains is the result of lithic reduction. Because knapping is a reductive process, it creates a large amount of waste material and this debris dominates the artifact count numerically and volumetrically. Lithic pieces associated with other types of activities, such as wood working or butchering, can easily be overlooked when dealing with such a quantitative bias. Furthermore, most archaeologists would be hesitant to identify an "activity area" based on the presence of only one artifact, even if that artifact has been associated with a particular activity through use wear analysis. The lack of organic debris makes such a conclusion unwarranted. This presentation will focus on a method that highlights these so-called "empty" areas and places them on equal footing with the high density concentrations of material. It is argued that these low density/blank zones are as important to the site’s structure as the dense clusters of debris, particularly for sites with limited preservation.

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Analyzing activity areas when only one material remains: The interpretation of low density, "empty" spaces in open air Middle Paleolithic sites. Amy Clark. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397027)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

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