Alaskan Blade Cores as Specialized Components of Mobile Toolkits: Assessing Design Parameters and Toolkit Organization through Debitage Analysis
Andrefsky, William, Jr.
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Bifaces, used as specialized tools and as cores, were a primary component of the mobile toolkits employed by prehistoric hunter-gatherer groups in North America. In some toolkits, however, particularly those in the American Arctic, prepared blade cores were also common. The use of blade core technologies has generally been explained in cultural historical terms (e.g., Paleoindian versus Paleo-Arctic) or in. terms of a simple functional argument-blade cores offer a more efficient means of utilizing lithic raw materials. Through analysis of debitage assemblages produced from bifacial and prepared blade core reduction experiments, we show that blade cores and bifacial cores are both efficient means of utilizing lithic raw materials, yet they differ in a variety of other ways. These differences are discussed in terms of the costs and benefits presented to prehistoric toolmakers and users. Given this set of costs and benefits, the technological choices favored by prehistoric people· may shed light on the situational and organizational contexts in which these technologies were used.