Examining the Use Lives of Archaic Bipointed Bifaces: Cache Blades from the Riverside Site

Author(s): Katherine Sterner; Robert Ahlrichs

Year: 2017


During the Late Archaic to Early Woodland transition, caches of blue gray chert bifaces were deposited throughout the Midwest, often in association with burials. Their utility between manufacture and deposition has long been the subject of speculation, but never compellingly demonstrated. Comprehensive use-wear analysis of these bifaces demonstrates that they were, in fact, used prior to deposition. Unfortunately, use-wear data in isolation tells us little about the actual role these bifaces played in the lives of the people who produced, used, and deposited them. Relatively few of these caches have been recovered as a result of systematic excavation, so other datasets that can be used to contextualize use-wear data are scarce. The Riverside Site is a Red Ochre affiliated burial and habitation site in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, excavated by the University of Michigan, the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Oshkosh Public Museum. Excavations in the 1950s and 60s uncovered a total of 83 bipointed bifaces. Use-wear analysis of a sample of these bifaces allows us to expand the conversation about their significance to include not only information about their depositional context but their active social and economic context as well.

Cite this Record

Examining the Use Lives of Archaic Bipointed Bifaces: Cache Blades from the Riverside Site. Katherine Sterner, Robert Ahlrichs. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431442)


Red Ochre Use-wear

Geographic Keywords
North America - Midwest

Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15565