Analysis of Paleoindian Site Structure and Toolstone Procurement at the Overlook Site (26CH3413), Churchill County, Nevada
AuthorRice, Sarah Kimball
AdvisorSmith, Geoffrey M.
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Based on lithic studies, it appears that the early inhabitants of the Great Basin were mobile, far-ranging, and possessed a flexible lithic toolkit. They left behind traces of ephemeral, often redundant, occupations across the landscape. While investigators have studied Paleoindian mobility patterns at large scales across the Great Basin, fine-grained analyses are rarely applied to individual open-air sites. This study evaluates the hypothesis that the archaeological record at a single Paleoindian site located in Churchill County, western Nevada the Overlook Site (26CH3413) represents the remains of a residential base camp; a place from which local toolstone was procured to replace broken and expended tools fashioned on non-local material. To test this hypothesis several methods are employed including the analysis of: (1) site structure vis-à-vis spatial distribution of artifacts; (2) components of the lithic assemblage; and (3) geomorphic processes. These data suggest that cultural and geomorphic processes affect the horizontal distribution of artifacts, eliminating observable internal structure at the site. The assemblage at the site suggests that the manufacture of mid-stage bifaces on local material and discard of broken and expended tools was the dominant activity and that the site was repeatedly visited. To conclude, I consider the Overlook Site within the broader context of Paleoindian sites in the region.