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Debitage Analysis and Archaeological Interpretation

Alan P. Sullivan, III and Kenneth C. Rozen
American Antiquity
Vol. 50, No. 4 (Oct., 1985), pp. 755-779
DOI: 10.2307/280165
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/280165
Page Count: 25
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Debitage Analysis and Archaeological Interpretation
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Abstract

The systematic study of chipped stone debitage provides important information about prehistoric lithic technology. However, the results of most debitage analyses are unconvincing because of questionable assumptions and inherent flaws in the typologies used to classify the material. After briefly reviewing these problems, we present an alternative approach that does not rely on the presumed technological origins of individual artifacts as the basis for debitage classification and interpretation. An important element of this approach is a typology composed of interpretation-free and mutually exclusive debitage categories. The derivation of this typology is described and the utility of the approach is demonstrated with two Arizona case studies. The TEP St. Johns project provides new data and interpretations about Archaic Period technological and settlement changes while the Pitiful Flats study illustrates how differences in functional and organizational factors affect debitage assemblage variability.

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