The Tutu Archaeological Village Site: A Case Study in Human Adaptation

By Elizabeth Righter | Go to book overview

Chapter Eleven


Flaked stone artifacts from the Tutu site

Dave Davis


INTRODUCTION

In contrast to ceramics, which have been the cornerstones of most cultural chronologies in the West Indies, lithic artifacts have received relatively little attention from Caribbean archaeologists. Several investigators have attempted to characterize the technology of flaked stone artifact manufacture on different islands (e.g. Davis, 1993, in press; Febles, 1988; Kozlowski & Ginter, 1973; Pantel, 1977; Rives & Febles, 1990; Walker, 1980). However, as Pantel (1988) has noted, published discussions of flaked stone artifacts more often have focused upon the identification of fossiles directeurs, or marker types, for different cultural phases. On the island of St Thomas, Bullen's (1963) defining publications on the Krum Bay complex exemplify that approach. Moreover, lithic research in the Caribbean has been overwhelmingly concerned with the preceramic or Archaic period. For many parts of the West Indies (including the entire Virgin Island group) there has been virtually no systematic study of lithic industries for the Ceramic Age.

Against this backdrop, the flaked stone artifacts from the Tutu site offer an opportunity to begin sketching a picture of Ceramic Age lithic technology in the Virgin Islands. Excavations and surface collection at the site yielded a series of flaked and ground stone artifacts manufactured on a wide array of raw materials, including chert, rhyolite, and basalt, as well as quartzite, shale, and other metamorphic rocks. The vast majority of these artifacts was recovered from contexts that are assigned to the earlier of the two components at the site (i.e. the Saladoid component). For this reason, and because the small number of artifacts associated with the later (Ostionoid) component have few culturally or technologically interesting features, this paper is concerned exclusively with lithic artifacts and technology that are thought to be associated with the Saladoid occupation of the Tutu site. Because of the paucity of comparative data in the published literature and the modest size of the flaked stone artifact sample from the Tutu site, this endeavor is necessarily more descriptive and less synthetic than one would prefer. Closer attention to flaked stone industries from other sites in the Virgin Islands will be needed before regional, functional, or chronological patterns can be discerned with any clarity.

In examining these materials, the goal was to characterize raw material selection and the technology of stone artifact production at Tutu, within the constraints of the available data. Two major limitations must be noted. First, a significant number (46.4%) of the flaked stone artifacts were recovered from surface contexts, or from spoil piles associated with particular excavation units. In the discussion that follows, surface and spoil materials which occurred in areas of the site that contained exclusively Saladoid materials are included with materials excavated from Saladoid subsurface contexts.

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