Microcores and microliths in Northwestern Plains and Rocky Mountain front lithic assemblages


Craig M Lee, Michael Neeley, Mark D Mitchell, Marcel Kornfeld, Crae O'Connor


Plains Anthropologist


Microcores and microliths have been identified in archaeological sites in Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota. While clearly the product of patterned reduction yielding flakes with roughly parallel sides, the cores seldom produced regular flake removals, suggesting a high degree of variability in the resulting microliths. This irregular pattern of reduction contrasts with classic microblade cores from higher latitudes, where uniformity of microblades was desired. When noted by field archaeologists, microcores are variously described as conical or circular scrapers as well as microcores or microblade cores. They occur in low frequencies in several time periods and are seldom identified with associated production debitage let alone microliths. This article examines microlith manufacture and microcore discard in the Northwestern Plains and adjacent regions and proposes that the technology fulfilled a specialized role in the organization of lithic technology linked to the infrequent manufacture of specialty items.



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