1976 San Diego State University, BA Anthropology/Minor: Comparative Religions
1989 University of Arizona, MA Anthropology
Primary Interest: The nature of archaeological forms: geometry, lithics.
An early background in philosophy cultivated a respect for epistemology, that area of knowledge often characterized by the question: How do I know I know? It examines the criteria upon which interpretations of phenomena rest. If the criteria are wrong or incomplete, interpretations will be suspect, or at best turn out to be correct for the wrong reasons. With respect to the field of lithics, most of us were reared in the comfort of the form-function model. A hand-axe was a hand-axe because it looked like a hand-axe. With the advent of microscopic identification of organic residues on the edges of artifacts, they found that many early hand-axes were never used to chop wood, or anything else; many showed no evidence of function whatsoever: they were cores. The tools were the flakes that came off the bifaces.
The other side of lithics is formal variability. It is probably fair to say that 98%+ of the overall shape of every lithic tool is determined by production vectors: how it was made and what material it was made from.
I first heard of bipolar flaking over twenty years ago in conjunction with the arguments levied by New World archaeologists arguing for Pre-Clovis horizons older that 12-15k, primarily because bipolar flaking had been cited in reports of early Asian assemblages. Many broken stones were turning up that some called artifacts while others argued they were caused by natural agencies. I had never heard of this reduction method, nor could I find any references that fully discussed and illustrated what it was all about. Asian reports and publications generally had poor line drawings of artifacts. I began trying it myself, largely quartzites, felsites and other materials locally referred to as "meta-volcanics." Ongoing results of this study are illustrated in these pages. Two qualities of bipolar flaking are emphasized: the amount of energy that is harnassed during bipolar reduction, and the great variability of forms that mimic those derived from standard direct percussion techniques as well as the many forms that could be mistaken for natural fractures.
The present site was posted for a couple reasons.
a) The ease of website construction and the great economy of posting color photos on the web (compared to journals limited to a couple B&Ws and/or line drawings). The website does not pretend to be a substitute for a refereed journal article. Rather, it takes advantage of this visual medium by posting photos generally reserved for conference slide shows. The Web allows you to post as many photos you want in the way you want for next to nothing. It is accessible the world over, and can cover events much sooner than traditional professional publications, such as CSFAs fantastic website for the 1999 Santa Fe conference, Clovis and Beyond, completed within a couple months of the event -- a great treat for those of us who could not attend.
b) Old World discoveries are shedding some light on the adaptive capacities of early human groups several hundred thousand years ago: 400k old wooden spears in Germany (Nature, Feb. 27, 1997); the 250k old Diring site, central Siberia, a region thought to have been originally settled around 13k ago (Quaternary Research, v. 51, 1997: 195-211); and even the possibility of navigation around 800k ago (Antiquity 73, 1999: 273-86). At the same time, new Pre-Clovis models for human presence in the New World are beginning to be openly discussed and tested. The bad news is that a great deal of real estate development and destruction is ongoing in several regions that may contain early sites, such as the Southeast US in general and the southern coastal region of California. A pictorial review of bipolar artifact forms was developed in the urgent hope that it will further the archaeological perceptions of those doing the reconnaissance in those areas.
On my mind...
Currently a number of questions are going around that did not arise from the Clovis-First model.
What does a non-stone projectile point PaleoIndian kill site look like? Given the potential impending destruction of pre-Clovis resources in areas of rapid development, and the urgency this carries to the Academic and CRM domains of professional archaeology, should we not include Quaternary Paleontology as a CRM division? If folks lived in the New World for thousands of years before the Wisconsin Ice Age meltdown, who would know better what additional site formation models we are going to have to accommodate? Who knows better where the faunal bones are buried and how to excavate them? Who are best qualified to note anomalies?
If Clovis is a cultural/technological spur related to the European Upper Paleolithic, who were the Paleoindians (the folks from Asia) and what kind of technologies did they bring with them? If there are lithic assemblages in the Americas that represent an extra 10k-30k years of archaeology in the New World, why have they not been recognized?
Suggested themes for other websites.
A visually detailed account of one or more non-stone projectile point PaleoIndian kill sites.
For those who have come to regard lithic reduction systems as a worldwide concern, type collections at your fingertips would be of great value, along with the immediate access to photos and illustrations of new discoveries. There should be a complete posting of type collections of both East Asian and African Lower and Middle Paleolithic.
A complete posting of Solutrean and Clovis type collections, not just points.
A collection of picts from Old World and New World assemblages where there is some question of their "artifact-hood:" rocks that have been called artifacts by some and nature facts (geo-facts) by others.