Determing Tool Use
The chipped stone tool assemblage from the Main site was very large and included many tool types. Archaeological research has shown that characteristics of chipped stone tools hold important information - not just about about tool age, but about how Native people likely used the tools, too.
To identify how a Native person used a stone tool, an analyst first describes its shape and size. Then, if interested in learning specific details about its function, the analyst examines the tool's surfaces and edges.
During use, stone tools come into contact with different types of materials - wood, bone, stone, hides. Their surfaces and edges are gradually worn down by that contact. Archaeologists know that working wood leaves wear patterns on tool edges and surfaces that are different from the wear patterns left by working stone or bone. They also know that how a tool was used - drilling or cutting or scraping - also leaves distinctive patterns.
Archaeologists used a microscope to observe the wear patterns (called microscopic use wear) on 180 stone tools from the Main site. This helped them more precisely identify how Native peoples used the tools.
From this study, researchers learned that the tips and edges of spear points were broken or worn due to impact and penetration into an animal's body. Most of these specimens had been hafted (attached to) a shaft.
Analysts also examined a variety of other tools, like unifaces and bifaces. Unifaces are tools chipped on one surface only, while bifaces are chipped on two surfaces. Native people used these tools for a wide range of food preparation and craft production activities, including skinning and butchering animals, and working hides. Some tools were clearly used to drill and bore holes into harder materials, such as bone and antler. Others were used to work wood and stone.
This wide range of tool uses highlighted the variety of activities that Native people undertook while they lived at the Main site for more than 6,000 years.