|A variety of stone tools was found during the archaeological investigations of the Gee Creek sites. Many of the artifacts were produced by a controlled-fracture process known as flintknapping to remove flakes from pieces of stone to fashion tools. These stone tools were used for hunting, processing animal hides, plant gathering and processing, wood-working, and other tasks. Sometimes the tools broke or wore out and were left behind after use. Additionally, as the tools were made, the flakes removed from the stone were often left behind, becoming part of the archaeological record.
Projectile points found at the Gee Creek
|Flaked Stone Artifacts|
The debitage (stone flakes produced during stone tool manufacture) and flaked stone tools found at the Gee Creek sites reflect a manufacturing pattern that emphasizes use of durable, local raw material cobbles. Large and long stone flakes from these cobbles were shaped into lanceolate-shaped projectile points. Other stone flakes of various shapes and sizes were used to make other tools. Most of the debitage found at the sites represents the byproducts of manufacturing larger implements, such as dart-sized projectile points (versus arrow points), knives, and scrapers.
Like most prehistoric archaeological sites in southwestern Washington, lithic (stone) raw materials used for flaked stone tools at the Gee Creek sites were predominantly composed of cryptocrystalline silica (CCS), an extremely fine-grained stone. However, the assemblage was more characteristic of early Holocene archaeological sites in that igneous stone, particularly basalt, rhyolite, and other unidentified volcanic rocks, accounted for a substantial portion of the assemblage (nearly 20 percent). All of these materials are available from local stream gravel deposits.
Evidence for thermal pretreatment or heat treatment as an intentional modification of the stone to improve its flaking characteristics or performance was limited to a small percentage (less than 3%) of the CCS flakes and tools. It is likely that the extensive thermal damage from forest fires observed on many of the artifacts has obscured some evidence of intentional (technological) heat treatment.
|Choppers are cobble tools that have been flaked to form a sharp bit and are thought to have been used in a variety of heavy processing tasks such as wood working. Many cobble choppers were found at the Gee Creek sites and are probably related to processing of materials that were critical to site function, such as wood-chopping for fuel or for the construction of facilities used in conjunction with earth ovens.|
Use-wear analysis of cobble choppers from a lowland site along the Columbia River near Deer Island identified patterns of rounding and striation on chopper bits consistent with chopping and gouging dry wood. Dispersed patterns of chopper artifact finds at many sites in the Portland Basin correspond with expectations for expedient use and disposal of these tools in forested areas where wood products might have been repeatedly procured and processed. These tools may have been left in the forest for use at a later time. Residue analyses suggest that they may also have been used for food processing.
|Ground Stone Artifacts|
A few ground stone artifacts also were found at the sites. Ground stone tools are lithic artifacts manufactured by being pecked or ground, or are tools used for pounding or grinding other materials. Ground stone artifacts found at the sites included hammerstones, anvils, and a pestle. These types of tools likely reflect a variety of processing activities, from pounding foodstuffs, to hammering stakes, to flintknapping.
Three ground stone artifacts recovered from the Gee Creek archaeological sites
Earth Oven Features
The most common type of artifact found at the sites was fire-modified rock, rock that has been burned, cracked, or otherwise modified as a result of heating in a fire. Most of the fire-modified rock found at the sites was originally associated with cooking ovens, campfire hearths, or other types of human-made cooking features.
It appears that earth oven technologies representing both expedient processing of resources and resource-specific cooking, drying, or roasting are represented at the Gee Creek archaeological sites. Many features represent hearths or campfires that were used in residential or short-term camp settings to expediently process resources acquired in the area for immediate consumption. These features were found in association with flaked and ground stone artifacts, and they contained artifacts covered with multiple types of organic residues, were small in size, and appeared to have been used and maintained through several repeated firings.
Other features, such as the one shown below, were of a much larger size, appeared to have been used less frequently but for a longer duration, contained fewer types of organic residues, were not associated with many flaked or ground-stone artifacts, and were found at a greater distance from areas that may have represented camp or residential locations. These features represent resource-specific cook-stone technologies designed for bulk processing of food, perhaps for winter storage.
This earth oven feature was discovered at the Gee Creek archaeological sites buried under more than 2.5 feet of sediment. Charcoal from the feature radiocarbon dated to nearly 8,000 years ago. |
|Computer imaging was used to depict this feature in three-dimensions. The artifacts that were analyzed for organic residues are highlighted in red and blue (one fire-modified rock fragment and a flake tool). Organic residues found on the artifacts suggested that nuts, oily seeds, and possibly camas were processed in the oven. Blood residues from large game animals, birds, and fish were also detected.|
Crabtree, Donald E. (1982) An Introduction to Flintworking. 2nd Ed. Occasional Papers of the Idaho State University Museum, No. 28, Pocatello.
Flenniken, J. Jeffrey (1981) Replicative Systems Analysis: A Model Applied to the Vein Quartz Artifacts from the Hoko River Site. Laboratory of Anthropology Reports of Investigation No. 59. Washington State University, Pullman
Hamilton, Stephen C., and Bill R. Roulette (2002) Results of Archaeological Investigations at Site 35CO48, A Cobble Chopper Site in Columbia County, Oregon. Applied Archaeological Research Report No. 312, Portland, Oregon. Prepared for Morse Brothers, Inc., Tangent, Oregon.
Holmes, William Henry (1919) Handbook of Aboriginal American Antiquities. Part 1. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 60.
Titmus, Gene L. (1985) "Some Aspects of Stone Tool Notching." In Stone Tool Analysis: Essays in Honor of Don E. Crabtree edited by Mark G. Plew, James C. Woods, and Max G. Pavesic, pp. 243-263. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque