Traditional Knowledge and Lithic Sources in Northeastern North America

Author(s): Adrian Burke

Year: 2017


Northeastern North America contains numerous lithic sources that are found in a variety of geologic and geographic settings. These materials vary widely in their knapping quality, color, texture, translucency, and block/cobble size. Access to these sources can also vary greatly, from underwater to the top of mountains. Aboriginal traditional knowledge allowed people in the past to navigate and use these varied sources. I present data from ethnographic and ethnohistoric documents that provide an insight into this traditional knowledge in precontact times. Toponyms point to lithic sources in the physical landscape that were known for generations. Oral traditions indicate that several sources in the Northeast possessed important symbolic meaning as part of the cultural landscape. I also explore how this traditional knowledge can help the archaeologist to better understand the exploitation of these lithic sources and their importance, whether symbolic or economic, to Aboriginal societies in the Northeast.

Cite this Record

Traditional Knowledge and Lithic Sources in Northeastern North America. Adrian Burke. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429712)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14676