Freshening up on Lithic Analysis

Just recently I joined a CRM company here in Rochester, and found out  this morning that I’ll be starting out on my first site next week! Therefore I decided to take a brief walk through the basics of lithic analysis (since I haven’t studied stone materials since I finished my BA in Cultural Anthropology in the spring of 2012).

In this post, I decided to share some of the more helpful sites I came across, in my mission to re-orient myself within the world of projectile points, flakes and debitage.

First of all, I found an article entitled “Recognizing Artifacts” that provides a rather good, (although certainly dated) introduction to various elements of stone tool recognition, these including percussion methods (direct and indirect), stone abrasion, drilling, and flaking, general uses of stone tools, and basic projectile typology. You can access “Recognizing Artifactshere. A good accompaniment for this article is another entitled “Procedures for Lithic Analysis,” which provides a very necessary explanation of the physics behind the breakage (or knapping) of stone tools. You can access that article here.
After refreshing my memory of the basics of flint knapping and stone tool analysis, I looked into the specific sorts of projectile points and stone tools likely to be found in the New York area. This site for the New York State Museum’s archaeological collections is a great resource for viewing the various types of projectile points found within their collection, (the list on the left of the page). Check it out here. This site also has a good introduction to typology, which you can view here.

I also found this site, ( to be a good visual resource for searching specific features of projectile points. You can access the site here.

Also important is a general understanding of the various cultural periods in Native American Chronologies. These roughly include the following, and each present their own recognizable lithic assemblages.

    8000 BCE – 14,000 BCE
    1800 BCE – 8000 BCE
    (Terminal Archaic)
    1200 BCE- 1800 BCE
    1200 BCE – 800 CE
    (Late Prehistoric)
    800 CE – 1550 CE

Anyways, this was just a brief look at the basics of Lithic analysis and a few useful sites in case anyone else is interested. I will definitely try to post consistent updates of my work in the field of CRM, so stay tuned! Also there will be a similar post later in the week when I refresh my memory of ceramics.

Further Reading:
Recognizing Artifacts
 Procedures for Lithic Analysis
New York State Museum Projectile Point Collection


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