A microwear study of Clovis blades from the Gault site, Bell County, Texas
Minchak, Scott Alan
MetadataShow full item record
Prehistoric quarries in America are poorly understood and thus problematical to take into account when making inferences about past behavior. A microwear analysis of Clovis blades from the 2000 Texas A&M University excavations at the Gault site (41BL323), located in southern Bell County, Texas, provided a window into this problem. Texas A&M excavations on the site produced an extraordinarily large number of Clovis artifacts in two bounded geologic units, 3a and 3b. Included in the artifact types are blades, specialized elongate flakes associated with a core and blade technology. In conducting a microwear analysis of the Clovis blades from Gault, I proposed the following questions: (1) were the Clovis blades utilized at Gault?; (2) is there a difference in the use-wear patterns of Clovis blades from the geological units 3a and 3b?; and (3) is Gault, as a quarry/workshop site, a place to just obtain raw materials or did it also serve as a craft site? Observations from experiments, stereomicroscope analysis, compound microscope analysis, and SEM/EDS analysis led to answers for two research questions: (1) blades were used at Gault and (2) there is a difference between Clovis units 3a and 3b. Eight Clovis 3a blades, or 3.0% of the total Clovis 3a blade/blade fragment population (n=264), exhibit use-wear. Six Clovis 3b blades, 3.3% of the total Clovis 3b blade/blade fragment population (n=182), exhibit use-wear. In general, Clovis 3b blades were used on harder contact materials (wood to bone) than those in Clovis Unit 3a (softer contact materials similar to grass, sinew, and rawhide). The function(s) of quarries and quarry-related workshops were interpreted by William Henry Holmes as a place to obtain raw materials, while Kirk Bryan interpreted them as a place to bring other materials to work in craft activities. Following the microwear analysis of Clovis blades/blade fragments at Gault, I compared Gault to three other Paleoindian quarry-workshop sites (Wells Creek, Dutchess Quarry, and West Athens Hill). My intent is to provide supplemental data for the consideration when applying Holmes? and Bryan?s respective hypotheses.