This thesis examines lithic raw material economies, specifically raw material availability and use, in Minnesota and adjacent parts of Iowa, Manitoba, North Dakota, Ontario, South Dakota and Wisconsin. It addresses the period of traditional stone tool making in the region, beginning around 13,000 ka and continuing to the demise of stone tool technology within the last two centuries. Results are presented in the form of two models.
The first model addresses the challenges of understanding raw material availability in a landscape dominated by glacial sediment and also including primary geologic sources. The model proposes a set of resource regions and subregions, each with a different complement of raw materials. The regions are based on the geologic history of the region, supplemented by information from raw material surveys and refined in light of archaeological toolstone distributions.
The second model addresses the challenges of understanding variations in raw material composition between archaeological assemblages. The model is based on an analytical approach termed "utility analysis," which evaluates the potential utility of various raw materials in a matrix defined by relative flaking quality (X axis) and package size (Y axis). The addition of a Z axis (intensity of use) creates a conceptual space for the comparative examination of lithic raw material data from different assemblages, regardless of specific raw material composition.
This utility analysis is applied to lithic data from about 1,200 archaeological sites. Based on the results, the model proposes four raw material use patterns that can account for much of the variation in the raw material composition of assemblages. Each pattern is geographically and chronologically expansive, but also chronologically delimitable. This raises the possibility of using raw material composition as a diagnostic characteristic to help determine general chronology or cultural affiliation, especially in the absence of other diagnostic indicators.