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Location and Position in Archaeology: Revisiting the Original Association of a Folsom Point with Bison Ribs

  • R. Lee Lyman (a1)

Abstract

The proveniences (locations) of artifacts have long been critically important to archaeological interpretation. Although of major importance to site formation studies, positional attributes of artifacts (e.g., orientation, dip, which side is up) are seldom mentioned. When discovered in 1927, the in situ association of a Folsom projectile point with two ribs of a Pleistocene form of bison was interpreted as indicative of the contemporaneity of the three items, and thus was taken as evidence for the Pleistocene age of humans in North America. The locational and positional attributes of the two ribs and the point relative to one another suggest it is improbable that the point was deposited simultaneously with the two ribs as a result of it being embedded in the animal's flank, which is not to say the three items are not depositionally and temporally associated. Previously unmentioned positional attributes of the items making up the original Folsom association exemplify the importance of such attributes. New understanding of the original association underscores that actualistic research is required to identify the kinds of positional attributes important to questions regarding site formation and site structure.

Résumé

La procedencia (ubicaciones) de artefactos ha sido críticamente importante a la interpretatión arqueológica. Aunque de mayor importancia a los estudios deformation de yacimientos, atributosposicionales de artefactos (ej. orientation, profundidad, cudl lado esta hacia arriba) casi nunca son mencionados. Cuandofue descubierto en el 1927, la asociación in situ de un punto de proyectil Folsom encontrado con dos costillas de un tipo de bisonte del Pleistoceno fue interpretada como indicativa de la contemporaneidad de los tres articulos, ypor ende tomada como evidencia de la era humana del Pleistoceno en Norteamerica. Los atributos de la ubicación y posición de las dos costillas y del punto en relación una respecto a la otra sugiere que es improbable que el punto haya sido depositado simultdneamente a las costillas como resultado de que el punto estuviera incrustado en el costado del animal, lo que noes lo mismo que decir que los tres artefactos no están asociados deposicional y temporalmente. Atributos posicionales previamente no mencionados de los artefactos queforman la asociación Folsom original ejemplifican la importancia de estos atributos. Entendimiento nuevo de la asociación original recalca que estudio actual es requerido para identificar los tipos de atributos posicionales importantes a preguntas sobre la formation y la estructura de yacimientos.

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