Old Dirt – New Thoughts

November 15, 2006

More of Less – Miniature Points from other Sites

Filed under: Lithics @ 11:47 am and

Miniature point from XMK-192 (photo by Marty Rogers)       Monty Rogers, an archaeologist with the National Park Service, recently sent me this picture of a miniature point found during their survey this summer. This point along with a base fragment of another small point were found at a large village site on Naknek Lake.   

This site, about 250 km from Aniakchak, is very near to the Brooks River Archaeological District where Don Dumond (University of Oregon) and the NPS have done a lot of field work. My quick review of Dumond’s classic 1981 monograph found only a few examples of “miniature” points. Dumond gives the size range for each of his point types and only the Bipoint I, Bipoint II, and Falls stemmed variety 3 point types include specimens with lengths of 20 mm or less. The smallest point recorded by Dumond measured 17 mm. Roger’s point measures 12.8 mm. Most of the Aniakchak points also measure under 20 mm.

I’m interested in hearing more about the Idavian Creek site. How large is “large”? How does it compare to the other sites in the region? Did the survey produce any other artifacts from this site? Where does this site fit in Dumond’s cultural sequence?


  1.   Monty Rogers — November 22, 2006 @ 7:57 pm    

    Here is some more information on the Idavain Creek site. There were at least 50 surface depressions located. Testing identified three distinct charcoal layers with artifacts and fire-cracked rock. The components were recognized in each test. The first lense was found right below the Katmai (1912) ash. The second concentration was found about 10 cm below Ash C. Ash C dates to 450-500 years ago. The final charcoal concentration was identified in mottled reddish brown sand with no recognized ash association.
    A variety of artifacts were recovered. Lithic debitage representing all stages of reduction were identified. Ground slate was found. A few formal tools were recovered including the miniature points. Pottery sherds were also found. One fragment was feather/fiber tempered. The rest were grit tempered. Very few faunal remains were found. One fractured ungulate tooth was identified. It’s most likely caribou. Several carbon samples were taken. Testing is planned for these.
    Tentatively this is where the artifacts are falling in Don Dumond’s cultural sequences. Pottery rim sherds recovered are Naknek ware. As Brian mentioned the miniature point fits under Dumond’s Brook River Falls category. Its context seems to support this. The Smelt Creek phase appears to be represented, too. This based on a possible Smelt Creek point fragment and the fiber/feathered tempered pottery sherd. All of these interpretations are based on preliminary analysis. We are awaiting dates from the C-14 testing.
    That’s all I got for now. Everyone have a happy Thanksgiving.

  2.   Brian — November 27, 2006 @ 10:17 pm    

    Thanks for the additional information. It will be really interesting to hear whether your radiocarbon dates match your preliminary site interpretation. Assuming you have things figured out correctly, then the miniature points are at least a Norton/BR Falls phenomena in your area. Most of the dates from Aniakchak and our King Salmon site are a little older – contemporary with Dumond’s BR Weir phase. I assume that our miniature points also date to the BR Weir phase.

    The main difference I see is that the miniature points are at the tail end of a small point class at Brooks River and King Salmon, whereas they are the dominate type at Aniakchak.

    Some of my students are going to start analyzing the small points tomorrow. They’ll be able to post some metric data pretty soon.

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