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For at least three million years, knapping stone has been practiced by hominin societies large and small, past and present. Thus, understanding knapping, knappers, and knapping cultures is fundamental to anthropological research around the world. Although there is a general sense that stone knapping is inherently dangerous and can lead to injury, little is formally, specifically, or systematically known about the frequency, location, or severity of knapping injuries. Toward this end, we conducted a 31-question survey of modern knappers to better understand knapping risks. Responses from 173 survey participants suggest that knapping injuries are a real and persistent hazard, even though a majority of modern knappers use personal protective equipment. A variety of injuries (lacerations, punctures, aches, etc.) can occur on nearly any part of the body. The severity of injury sustained by some of our participants is shocking, and nearly one-quarter of respondents reported having sought or received professional medical attention for a flintknapping-related injury. Overall, the results of this survey suggest that there would have likely been serious, even fatal, costs to knappers in past societies. Such costs may have encouraged the deployment of any social learning capacities possessed by hominins or delayed the learning or exposure of young infants or children to knapping.
Perishable artifacts are invaluable tools for reconstructing past lifeways of hunter-gatherers, and when preserved in arid settings, they can inform on dynamic interactions between communities and the environment. Many such materials were recovered from early archaeological surveys in Utah and Nevada but were largely excluded from contemporary analyses because of small sample sizes, their fragmentary nature, and insecure proveniences. This synchronic reanalysis of cordage and coiled basketry from 10 late Holocene sites in the Great Salt Lake Desert utilizes newer approaches to perishables analysis so as to collect data more conducive to statistical comparisons of subsistence and craft traditions absent from earlier Great Basin studies. Regional trends of conformity of fine cordage contrasted with a diversity of basketry manufacture suggest contemporaneous social stressors directing the production of materials and two potentially gendered subclasses of utilitarian objects. Feminine and masculine perishable crafts in the Bonneville Basin follow separate manufacturing traditions, observable despite small sample sizes and poor dating of these curated collections.
Studies in the sociopolitics of archaeology have shown patterns of inequality in publishing. Because this inequality affects the richness of perspectives on the past, the extent of unevenness requires continual documentation. This article explores gendered and institutionally based patterns of authorship in prominent archaeology journals, archaeology papers in general science journals, and Sapiens, a public-facing web magazine, from 2016 to 2021. We find that the representation of women is similar across these two types of journals, for authors both in the United States and abroad. Men still publish significantly more than women though the gap is narrowing due to the publication activity of recent PhDs. Using a large database of PhDs as a baseline for comparison, we find that women publish less in these venues than expected, resulting in an imbalance. Some archaeology programs have a larger presence in journal publishing than others, but this imbalance is not as pervasive as what has been observed in hiring practices. Archaeology journals exhibit healthier measures of diversity, compared to Science, in terms of the institutional affiliation of authors.
The symbiotic relationship between people and the genus Agave spans millennia and a vast geographical area encompassing Mexico, the southwestern United States, and the Texas borderlands. In the early 1950s, Richard MacNeish's investigations in Tamaulipas yielded evidence of past agave use in the mountains of northeastern Mexico. Excavations in the Ocampo Caves revealed 9,000 years of sporadic occupations by hunter-gatherers, mixed forager-farmers, and finally, periodic visits by residents of nearby agricultural villages. Although these discoveries are incompletely published—and existing publications largely underemphasize the range of utilized wild resources in favor of domesticated maize, beans, and squash—agave is among the wild plant taxa most often mentioned in use throughout the Holocene. Unpublished field notes, curated plant assemblages recovered during MacNeish's excavations, and data from recent archaeological survey complement the published literature to explore the role of this prominent plant in this important archaeological region.
This article investigates the rise of social complexity of Cahokia's multiethnic city through a robust stylistic grammar analysis of early Caddo fine ware vessels at Cahokia's East St. Louis Precinct. We explore ceramic production and distribution to shed light on whether Caddo-like fine wares were produced by Caddo potters who lived and crafted at Cahokia, were produced by local Cahokia potters who copied Caddo motifs, or were imported to Cahokia from the southern Caddo area. This investigation helps us better understand the nature of Caddo connections at the beginning of Cahokia's development and provides a means of identifying and interpreting new levels of social interactions between the Caddo world and Cahokia. The stylistic grammar results show that the majority of the Caddo-like vessels at Cahokia have identical stylistic grammar as vessels from the Caddo world. This strongly suggests that Caddo craft specialists migrated to, lived, and crafted their homeland vessels at Cahokia and thus were key social actors in its development.
This article addresses past and present bioarchaeological practices and human remains management in Quebec; it focuses on the challenges of creating a bioarchaeological database during a two-phase project initiated in 2018–2019 by the Kahnawake Mohawk Council. Its goal was to help Indigenous communities engaged in repatriation and rematriation procedures. Key information regarding human remains’ current location from the 2018 database served as the basis for a second phase in 2021. Of a total of 345 archaeological sites, storage location could only be confirmed for 35% of 228 Indigenous sites compared to 70% of 77 Euro-Canadian sites. Because Ancestors are the legal property of the finder, the landowner, or both, this missing information poses additional challenges to those wishing to initiate repatriation and rematriation claims. Years of non-Indigenous legal and scientific control created layers of colonial assessments. Current populations must rely on archaeological finds to assess whether they are Ancestors’ “legitimate next-of-kin.” In the meantime, Ancestors remain stored. We show how these problems stem from Quebec's colonial archaeological practices and legal frameworks. We then draw on reciprocity-based archaeology to suggest new ways of taking care of Ancestors that respect Indigenous communities’ beliefs and that involve Indigenous communities in caring for their Ancestors.
The Late Holocene Dry Period (LHDP) was a one-plus millennial megadrought (3100–1800 cal BP) that delivered challenges and windfalls to Indigenous communities of the central Great Basin (United States). New pollen and sedimentation rate studies, combined with existing tree-ring data, submerged stump ages, and lake-level evidence, demonstrate that the LHDP was the driest Great Basin climate within the last 6,000 years—more extreme than the well-known Medieval Climatic Anomaly. New evidence reported here documents that most Great Basin archaeological sites south of 40° N latitude were abandoned during the long dry phase of the LHDP (3100–2200 cal BP), sometimes reoccupied during a wet interval (2200–2000 cal BP), and abandoned again during the most extreme drought (2000–1800 cal BP). Even in the face of epic drought, this is a story of remarkable survivance by some people who adjusted to their drought-stricken landscape where they had lived for millennia. Some moved on, but other resilient foragers refused to abandon their homeland, taking advantage of glacier-fed mountain springs with cooler alpine temperatures and greater moisture retention at high altitude, a result of early Neoglaciation conditions across many Great Basin ranges, despite epic drought conditions in the lowlands.