Site Occupational History and Lithic Assemblage Structure: An Example from Southeast Utah
Camilli, Eileen Lois
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Recurrent patterns in the regional positioning of settlement systems over extended periods of time are the processes by which archaeological remains accumulate. These processes result in the differential use of portions of a landscape and therefore in different occupational histories among places. The purposes for which an archaeological site was used in the past and the number of separate uses of that site comprise its occupational history. It is this occupational history, rather than single episodes of behavior, which determines the content and structure of archaeological assemblages. However, neither assemblage composition nor the stratigraphic record of depositional events are direct evidence for the use histories of places.The spatial properties of surface artifact scatters from southeastern Utah are employed to identify the use histories of archaeological distributions. Ethnoarchaeologically documented patterns of space use provide clues to the use histories of places on several levels of site structure -- the spatial attributes of artifact and feature distributions. These levels include activity areas and their composites, and debris distributions formed by entire occupations. Based on patterned variation in the sizes of ethnographically documented occupations, patterns of space use obtained with archaeological scatters are interpreted as representing single and multiple activity episodes. Assemblage structure -- the associations and correlations of assemblage contents -- of functionally different occupations and of archaeological distributions, which result from the repetitive use of locations and facilities, is modeled with size/diversity relationships. Functionally different tool roles for lithic implements are also offered. Models of tool roles are applied to assemblages inferred to result from single and multiple activity episodes and are contrasted within apparent tool associations.The variable content and spatial structure of surface artifact scatters is attributed to different site use histories. Special-purpose, residential and multiple occupations are interpreted from analyses of tool roles. Assemblage size/diversity relationships and variation in flake morphology are used as independent avenues of inquiry with which to evaluate these interpretations. Identifying assemblages which result from single special-purpose strategies and those which are generated in the context of reuse of places, and are thus mixtures of debris from many separate functions, is seen as a prerequisite for understanding the spatial and temporal patterns characteristic of assemblages within a region.