Lithic technology at the below forks site, FhNg-25 : strategems of stone tool manufacture
Kasstan, Steven C.
The Below Forks site is a deeply stratified multicomponent archaeological site situated two kilometres downstream from the confluence of the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers. The lowest cultural occupation has been dated to 6000 rcybp. Projectile points diagnostic of the Mummy Cave series were recovered from excavations. The site was an open campsite situated on a middle level alluvial slope of the Saskatchewan River valley. A broad-spectrum fauna exploitation was represented at the site. The lowest component was occupied in late winter or early spring, based on immature bison elements. Collection and reduction of river cobbles into lithic implements was an important activity at the site. Debitage was the largest artifact class recovered from the site and deserved the greatest analytical attention. Lithic technology, specificially the methods of tool manufacture, was the central theme of study. A variety of analytical techniques were used, including the separate analyses of cores, debitage, and tools. These analyses were placed into a spatical context with geographic information systems. Three components were represented in the eastern area of the Below Forks site. A lithic reduction workshop and some habitation debris were contained in the upper occupation. Evidently, the middle component appeared peripheral to a habitation site. The lower occupation evidenced significant knapping activities within the confines of a habitation site. Interpretations from various analytical techniques were placed within a chaîne opérafiore framework and fully documented the lithic technology. Certain types of material behaved in slightly different ways; individual knappers would have taken this into account and appropriately modified their technique. The thermal alteration of Swan River chert was an important component of the lithic technology. Bipolar technology had a prominent role in the production of flake blanks. Platform grinding was a commonly observed form of platform preparation. Platform flaking increased in importance with later stages of reduction. Ideally these preparations would allow flint-knappers to improve their control of intended flake detachments. In sum, lithic tools were manufactured within a myriad of technological sophistication. The properties of lithic fracture were controlled with great precision, preparation, and foresight in the manufacture of implements at the Below Forks site.