The Cutting Edge: Versatility and Preference for the Semi-Lunar Knife in the Southern New England Archaic
Author(s): Erin Flynn
Semi-lunar knives, or ulus, have been considered a diagnostic tool of the Laurentian Late Archaic in the Northeast since William Ritchie’s 1940 report on the Robinson and Oberlander No. 1 sites in upstate New York. Archaeological research conducted since Ritchie’s definition of the Laurentian Aspect demonstrate semi-lunar knives were used in New England long before 5,000 B.P. and occur in both coastal and interior settings. Recently identified semi-lunar knife fragments from a coastal Laurentian site on Block Island, Rhode Island resulted in a new research project addressing the introduction, dispersal, and functions of this tool form. PAL reviewed archaeological literature and artifact collections containing semi-lunar knives from southern New England. Our analyses included basic attributes, such as use wear, material type, manufacturing process (chipped vs. ground), decoration, and hafting elements, combined with site location, cultural attribution, and radiometric dating, where available. Use wear analyses were supplemented by protein, starch, and phytolith residue analyses of two specimens from curated collections. Although semi-lunar knives can no longer be considered "diagnostic" of the Laurentian Late Archaic, their broader association with northern fishing and maritime cultures remains.
Cite this Record
The Cutting Edge: Versatility and Preference for the Semi-Lunar Knife in the Southern New England Archaic. Erin Flynn. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445232)
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Abstract Id(s): 22594