Ozarks Chipped-Stone Resources: A Guide to the Identification, Distribution, and Prehistoric Use of Cherts and Other Siliceous Raw Materials

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Ozarks Chipped-Stone Resources: A Guide to the Identification, Distribution, and Prehistoric Use of Cherts and Other Siliceous Raw Materials by JACK H. RAY. Missouri Archaeological Society Special Publication No. 8, 2007. xviii + 423 pp., 184 figures, 13 tables, bibliography, index. $45 (paper).

The Ozark Highland differs from most Plains regions and the Prairie Peninsula in its abundance and variety of chert, quartzite and lesser amounts of igneous rock; all of them used to make chipped stone tools. Ray's lavishly illustrated and reasonably written book is truly an indispensable guide to these chipped stone resources of the Ozark Highland and, to a lesser degree, adjacent regions. This work is the culmination of nearly 30 years of research and participation in many archaeological projects in Missouri and in collaboration with other scholars from that and neighboring states. It draws heavily on Ray's experiences at the multicomponent, stratified Big Eddy site in southwest Missouri. Ray divides the book into two parts followed by three appendices, the second of which is 28 color illustrations of unheated lithic examples.

Part I presents basic information on Ozark bedrock geology and analytical methods Ray and other specialists use in the identification of chipped stone resources. Among the prime analytical strategies is to evaluate flaking debris as direct evidence of on-site manufacture or maintenance of chipped stone tools, separate from the tools themselves. The latter may have come from elsewhere. Considering the two types of evidence may reveal the underlying structure of local and more distant tool stone exploitation. Ray is correct in noting (and following this example) that most chipped stone identifications are done by comparison with rock samples from bedrock formations or re-deposited materials from stream sediments or hill slope residuum and cave sink holes. The least expensive way to artifact identification is physical inspection of both unaltered and deliberately heat treated rock samples from known geological contexts that whenever possible are keyed to a bedrock formation. Most practical and followed here is visual (macroscopic and microscopic) comparisons of artifacts to rock samples, although Ray does mention and cites other analytical approaches. The latter are more costly, provide greater assurance in the identification, but are considered only in passing. Even so, given the sheer magnitude of the problem of chipped stone identifications for the Ozark Highland, it really is no wonder Ray opted for cheap, least time consuming methods.

Part II is the heart of the book and, in 10 of 12 chapters, lays out by bedrock formation after bedrock formation descriptions of chipped stone resources, key means to their identification, their geological context and geographic distribution, alteration by heat treatment, and evidence of prehistoric use. In a careful and methodical way, Ray presents this information for what seems a zillion different rock types. …