The antecedents to the specialized microdrill industry on Santa Cruz Island, CA

Author(s): Jeanne Arnold; Scott Sunell

Year: 2015


I analyze more than 400 lithic artifacts associated with the development of intensive Chumash shell-drilling activities from four sites on Santa Cruz Island (SCRI), CA. By the second millennium CE, the Chumash of the northern Channel Islands had developed a specialized bead-making industry and a parallel industry of formal microdrills to perforate those beads (as documented by Arnold [1987]). During the latter part of the Middle Period (AD 900-1150), trapezoidal microdrills dominated; in the mid-Middle Period (AD 500-900), by contrast, ad-hoc drills with non-standardized methods of manufacture prevailed. These artifacts are flake-drills, identified in small numbers at sites on both the islands and the mainland. I track the origins of microlithic technology on the islands with the region’s largest known collection of flake-drills and identify a period of production experimentation at SCRI-474. Type A flake-drills were produced expediently from small flakes and shatter. Type B drills were made on flake forms characterized by bit placement on the long axis. These assemblages chronicle local knappers’ experimentation with techniques that would revolutionize the small drill production process in the region, presaging methods that would become common practice and documenting the earliest steps toward the standardized microdrill industry.

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Cite this Record

The antecedents to the specialized microdrill industry on Santa Cruz Island, CA. Scott Sunell, Jeanne Arnold. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397812)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;