Method and Theory in American Archaeology

By Gordon R. Willey; Philip Phillips | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Lithic Stage

DEFINITIONS

In our previous paper we designated and defined the earliest stage of American culture as "Early Lithic."1 This stage was conceived of as embracing two major categories of stone technology: (1) unspecialized and largely unformulated core and flake industries, with percussion the dominant and perhaps only technique employed, and (2) industries exhibiting more advanced "blade" techniques of stoneworking, with specialized fluted or unfluted lanceolate points the most characteristic artifact types. At that time we hesitated to use this division as a basis for setting up two separate stages in our classification, because there seemed to be insufficient evidence of a time differential between them. The evidence is still inconclusive, although the case for a distinct and earlier core and flake stage is somewhat stronger than it was. We still adhere to our original decision to consider all these early evidences of man in America as a single stage, but we recognize the good possibility of an eventual division along the lines suggested above. In view of this possibility, we have modified our terminology and will refer hereinafter to this earliest New World stage simply as "Lithic," allowing for future separation into "upper" and "lower" Lithic stages, if such a course seems advisable.

"Lithic" is not entirely satisfactory as a name, but we have so far been unable to come up with anything better. Its sole merit is that the evidence on this stage is predominantly in the category of

____________________
1
. Willey and Phillips, 1955, pp. 730-39.

-79-

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