Examining Patterns of Toolstone Procurement in an Edible Lithic Landscape on the Columbia Plateau

Author(s): Ron Adams

Year: 2018


Expansive outcrops of high-quality cryptocrystalline silicate toolstone occur in many localities within the Columbia Plateau region of North America. Archaeological evidence indicates that these locations were utilized extensively by pre-contact Native American groups. The geological processes that shaped these landforms and produced outcropping lithic material also created ideal conditions for the growth plant food resources, particularly root crops. These root crops thrive on the lithosols containing outcropping toolstone and were extensively harvested by Plateau groups in the past. The Columbia Hills of south-central Washington State exemplifies this pattern. Myriad lithic extraction sites cover the ridgelines and slopes of the Columbia Hills, a landform that is also blanketed with important root crops. This paper examines the relationship between food resources, toolstone, and settlements in the Columbia Hills area. The distribution of Columbia Hills quarry sites and their spatial orientation in relation to subsistence resources and habitation locales in the surrounding area is indicative of the intensified use of the landscape for both food and lithic resource procurement. Comparisons to other areas within the Columbia Plateau suggest the presence of a regional pattern of intensive lithic procurement coinciding spatially with collector systems involving intensified plant resource gathering.

Cite this Record

Examining Patterns of Toolstone Procurement in an Edible Lithic Landscape on the Columbia Plateau. Ron Adams. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444028)

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Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20150