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Toolkit Composition and Assemblage Variability: The Implications of Nogahabara I, Northern Alaska

  • Daniel Odess (a1) and Jeffrey T. Rasic (a2)

Abstract

Nogahabara I is a late Pleistocene age archaeological site located in interior northwestern Alaska. In contrast to most archaeological assemblages left by mobile hunter-gatherers, which consist largely of manufacturing debris and a few worn or broken tools, the site contains 267 largely whole, useful tools, which we interpret as a lost or abandoned toolkit. As a snapshot of the tools carried by an individual or small group during an archaeological instant, the toolkit offers insights into specific technological behaviors and general processes that influence the formation of lithic assemblages. The toolkit exhibits a surprisingly wide range of tool forms and production technologies. It also shows direct archaeological evidence of transport and episodic use and maintenance of tools and cores. This evidence suggests intensive toolstone conservation that would have reduced the frequency with which toolkit depletion would have forced people to re-provision. One implication of these behaviors is that lithic assemblages left scattered across the landscape should be highly variable. Another is that there are profound differences between systemic toolkits and the archaeological assemblages from which they are derived.

Résumé

Nogahabara I es un sitio arqueológico del Pleistoceno tardío situado en el interior del Noroeste de Alaska. En contraste con la mayoría de los ensambles arqueológicos dejados por cazadores-recolectores móviles, que consiste en gran parte de los desperdicios de la fabricación y algunas herramientas gastadas o quebradas, el sitio contiene 267 herramientas útiles y en gran parte enteras, que nosotros interpretamos como un juego de herramientas que fue perdido o abandonado. Como evidencia de las herramientas cargadas por un individuo o grupo pequeño durante un instante arqueológico, el juego de herramientas permite hacerse unas ideas sobre los comportamientos tecnológicos específicos y los procesos generales que influencian la formación de ensambles líticos. El juego de herramientas exhibe una gama asombrosamente amplia de las formas de la herramienta y de las tecnologías de la producción. También demuestra evidencia arqueológica directa del transporte y del uso episódico y el mantenimiento de herramientas y de materia prima. Esta evidencia sugiere la conservación intensiva de la piedra que provee las herramientas la cual habría reducido la frecuencia con que el agotamiento del juego de herramientas habría forzado que la gente se reaprovisionara. Una implicación de estos comportamientos es que los ensambles líticos que fueron dispersados a través del paisaje deben ser altamente variables. Otro es que las diferencias entre los juegos de herramientas sistémicos y los ensambles arqueológicas que derivan de ellas son profundas.

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References

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