2010 Papers Schedule

2010 RE-ARC Conference

Key Note Address, Papers, Posters, Breakout Sessions and Round Table Discussion



Key Note Address


“Primitive Technology - A Personal Journey to Resolve Theory and Practice”


Presenter: David Wescott

Presenter Bio: David Wescott is a founding board member of the Society of Primitive Technology and the Managing Editor of the Bulletin of Primitive Technology. He is the owner of Backtracks, LLC, and entrepreneurial company that specializes in the preservation and instruction of traditional skills. Backtracks hosts 3 national events each year Rabbitstick, Winter Count, and Woodsmoke, each attracting practitioners of primitive and traditional skills from throughout the world. He is the past owner of Boulder Outdoor Survival School and is currently an Adjunct professor at Brigham Young University – Idaho. He and his wife Paula live in Rexburg, Idaho and have 4 children and 12 grand children.


See what he’s doing at backtracks.net, primitive.org or http://campandtrailblog.blogspot.com





Jack Cresson will be delivering one or more of the following four (4) papers:


No. 1

Environmental Variables and Surface Displacement and Deposition of

Lithic Artifacts: A Backyard Experiment


By Jack Cresson

Primitive Industries

Moorestown, NJ


This experimental project was initiated in response to well established approaches in archaeological research and, to examine more carefully the spatial relationships of artifacts, and how they may relate to each other, as well as to activities over time.  


ABSTRACT: Patterns of site formation and process are explored through an experimental "site" construction and subsequent observations. The record of this study, conducted for over a year, offers some interesting alternatives to the process of site disturbance and indicates other aspects to environmental variables that may be responsible for cultural material location in archaeological sites. The concept of "primary" discard location" and the use of quantitative statistical techniques to interpret provenience data are questioned. In light of the results a cogent question arises, Do archaeological site surfaces, both in use and abandonment, retain any of their original  configurations to reflect an accurate dimensional relationship between the cultural materials found upon them?


This experimental project was initiated in response to well established approaches for archaeological research to examine more carefully the special relationships of artifacts and how they may relate to each other as well as to past activities on a given site surface over time (Pheiffer, 1972, Coles, 1973, Callahan, 1974 and 1976).


Spatially derived data of cultural materials wrangled from the numerous statistical applications to spatial analysis have for a long time been tools to interpreting past

human activities and occupations. Artifact typology and functional implication coupled with location information provides significant evidence and insight toward the understanding of prehistoric activities and patterns related to them. (  Anderberg 1973, Binford 1968, 1972 and 1978, Clark 1968,  Cooley, et.al. 1971, Johnson 1968,  Kehoe and Kehoe 1973, Schiffer 1976, and Whallon 1973a, b and 74). However, the exact placement and disposition of cultural materials recovered from "undisturbed" contexts are in question here. The observations from this experiment strongly suggest that a site surface is much more than a static horizon, it is a vibrant active zone with a variety of variables at play- climatic, flora, fauna, insect, etc. and manifest to be major determinants in the dispersal and relocation of cultural materials across and within the landscape.


The project initiated as a simple experiment to trace the lateral dispersal and vertical depth of subsidence for a small sample of experimental objects, six lithic bifaces. Also to observe and record their respective movements and locations on a month by month basis for at least the duration of one calendar year; and to consider such factors as seasonality, weather, insect, animal, avian and human disturbance that could be closely observed under reasonably stringent controls. Also, as a related phenomena,  another goal of the experiment sought to observe what the post manufacturing effects of weathering had on argillaceous materials within known and controlled time frames and what mechanical dislocation events may have on certain types of lithic materials. i.e. the cause and occurrence of surface and edge damage as well as patina on argillite derived artifacts.


No. 2

Platforms, Vectors of Force and Unique, Aberrant Techniques

in Specialized North American Biface Production Systems


By Jack Cresson

Primitive Industries

Moorestown, NJ


ABSTRACT: Unique flake types coupled with their unusual attributes of process are presented; the residues of large biface production systems to reveal strategies of process. Experiments using grinding both on flake ridges and their proximal edges along with battering and edge 'clipping' truncation will be advanced to support archaeological analogs. The findings reveal these techniques may have deep time origins stretching back to Late Pleistocene Upper Paleolithic European Solutrean and North American Clovis lithic traditions culminating in Eastern Woodland Fox Creek Phases.


No. 3

Percussion Modes and the Copper Hypothesis


By Jack Cresson

Primitive Industries

Moorestown, NJ


ABSTRACT: Copper percussion: A test of trace mineral residue on mixed lithic materials; prospects and potential for analyzing lithic residues in certain lithic technologies. A group of modern flint knappers participated in experimental tests using copper percussors in various biface reduction exercises to explore the potential of Cu trace residues on flake platforms. The findings show specific material types have greater potential implications for prehistoric assemblages.


No. 4

Middle Woodland Lithic Technologies: A Chapter in Deciphering a Unique Extractive Process and Production of Rhyolite Fox Creek Primary Quarry Bifaces


By Jack Cresson

Primitive Industries

Moorestown, NJ


Experimental approaches were aimed toward understanding the prehistoric exploitation and extraction of rhyolite in the manufacture and use of Fox Creek bifaces found within certain Middle Woodland cultural expressions throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region.


ABSTRACT: Experimental approaches are aimed toward understanding the prehistoric exploitation and extraction of rhyolite in the manufacture and use of Fox Creek bifaces found within certain Middle Woodland cultural expressions throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. The focus of this effort is to provide evidence and explanation for the production of rhyolite primary quarry bifaces manufactured and distributed from the extensive quarry areas found in the "Great Valley" Region of South Central Pennsylvania. Characteristic manufacturing traits are explored and analyzed through comparison of both quarry by-products and debitage yielding significant traces of the manufacturing process- a unique, primary flake preparation technique is revealed. These observations are patterned into a sequence of selection, extraction and production through the replicative process and offer provocative notions toward the understanding of early stage Fox Creek lithic manufacture.




Ice Man Study: Experiments With A Quiver Attachment System


By Guy Neal

Woodsboro, MD


How could/did the Ice Man carry his arrow quiver and backpack while simultaneously drawing and firing his bow?  This paper explores the functional application of a proposed quiver strap system allowing “Otzi” to accomplish this task.


ABSTRACT: For more than five thousand years a Neolithic quiver lay undiscovered in glacial ice. In 1991, a chance discovery by hikers near Hauslabjoch, in the Ötzal Alps, revealed the frozen and partially mummified remains of “Otzi” and the equipment he carried.   Numerous artifacts were preserved. Among them, a relatively intact quiver containing archery equipment and several arrows in various states of completion.

In its state of disrepair this, the only known Stone Age quiver extant, leaves many unanswered questions. “Otzi” carried a backpack, how was the quiver carried?  What did this attachment system look like? The seemingly obvious answer of a “strap” is not supported archeologically in any form.  Equally important is the question: “When in use, how did the maker intend to extract and deploy the arrows?”

A replica of the quiver, using appropriate stone age technology and period materials, has been constructed.  Further, a hypothesis concerning the missing “strap” component and its multifunctional use has been proposed.  The replicated quiver and strap have been tested and speculation on its functional use is described.



Identifying Grog in Archaeological Pottery


By Joseph M. Herbert and Michael S. Smith

Colorado State University

Cultural Resources Management Program

Fort Bragg, NC


Identification of grog in archaeological pottery is not a straightforward process. Grog, a material added to clay to change its workability, is often indistinguishable from natural clay lumps or clasts, etc.  This paper describes the petrographic analysis of grog-tempered pottery replicated under anthropologically appropriate experimental conditions.


ABSTRACT: Constructing ceramic sequences by assigning pottery samples to types that relate to specific geographic regions and time periods is an important archaeological tool for understanding prehistoric culture.  Many regional sequences of Woodland period pottery in the Southeastern U.S. include grog-tempered types, and often the identification of grog is a sufficient condition for classifying a potsherd to a particular type.  Regrettably, the identification of grog in archaeological pottery is currently not a straightforward process.  To the archaeologist, grog is pulverized or crushed ceramic material that is added to clay by the potter to change the clay’s workability or firing properties; however, natural clay often includes lumps, such as clay clasts, argillaceous fragments, or hematitic clots that can closely resemble grog.  Distinguishing among naturally occurring clay lumps and grog can be difficult even microscopically in thin section.  This paper describes the petrographic analysis of grog-tempered pottery replicated under anthropologically appropriate experimental conditions.




Reconstructing Early Cherokee Foodways


By Jane M. Eastman

Department Head, Anthropology and Sociology

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, NC.


ABSTRACT: Reconstruction of Early Qualla phase foodways is based on direct evidence of archaeological charred plant remains, absorbed residues in experimental clay cooking pots and archaeological pottery sherds, and ethnohistoric and ethnographic accounts of Cherokee food preparation and consumption. Species known to have been part of the Cherokee diet have been cooked in individual clay pots that are then analyzed using infrared spectrometry to develop a comparative collection of food residues. These experimentally-derived residue signatures are then compared to absorbed residues in archaeological pottery shards in an attempt to reconstruct early Cherokee cookery.




The Functions of Stone Tools from Eastern North America


By Larry R. Kimball

Department of Anthropology

Appalachian State University

Boone, NC  28608


ABSTRACT: The functions of stone tools from Paleo-Indian through Cherokee technologies are discussed herein.  This database of ~2500 tools results from high-power, Keeley Method microwear analyses by the author over the past 20 years at over 35 sites from eastern North America.  Through a comparison to microwear polishes from over 300 experimentally used tools, it is possible to discuss the following actions in specific terms: projection, butchery, hideworking (cleaning, dry hide, fresh hide), bone working, antler working, soft plant cutting, wood working, and soft stone cutting (mica and soapstone).  The relationship between tool form and use is discussed for projectile points, arrowpoints, knives, end scrapers, side scrapers, drills, borers, burins, bipolar tools (bipolar cores, bipolar flakes, and pieces esquillees), denticulates, perforators, retouched flakes, and utilized flakes.  In addition, the recognition of microwear traces due to hafting enables a comprehension of how tools were placed into handles.  Finally, when these functional data are considered by context (spatial, temporal, inter-site, etc.), it is possible to discuss such concerns as site function, settlement, ritual, and warfare.




The Effects of Drying on Antler Blank Production Rates:

Some Preliminary Conclusions


By Katherine Lamp, Sunjana Supekar and Amy V. Margaris*

Oberlin College,

Oberlin, OH 44074


ABSTRACT: Early humans and more recent forager societies utilized a range of osseous and geological materials to manufacture tools.  Unlike stone, antler is excellent at resisting fracture—an ideal property for some types of tools.  However, tool designs may reflect not only functional considerations but also the ease with which various raw materials can be cut and shaped.  Lithic tool reduction procedures are well-studied in archaeology but we currently lack comparable data on antler working, including how the ease of cutting and shaping antler tool blanks is affected by the natural drying process. We report here on a three month long experiment designed to test how drying affects the workability of elk antler using a standard lithic toolkit.  Results suggest that cut rates (cm2/hr) decline noticeably within this three month window of drying, but that rates also differ considerably between individual workers despite their identical training. Future research might address the relationship between inter-individual differences in skill and style and the seemingly straightforward groove-and-splinter procedures used for antler blank production. 


* Assistant Professor of Anthropology




Into Wilder Places: Authentic Experiences in a Virtual Culture


By Tom Mancke


Hammond School

Columbia, SC


ABSTRACT: How an individual from an indoor culture became connected to the wilder elements of the natural world using the unearthed stories told by archeologists and anthropologists. What does an educator or individual do with the stories told by archeologists and anthropologists?  One powerful application is that of guiding an authentic (not “virtual”) reconnection with the larger natural world that sustains us.




Performance in experimental archaeology, any possibility for unambiguous statements?


By Roeland Paardekooper MA,


University of Exeter (UK)


ABSTRACT: Experimental archaeology is about analogies for archaeological interpretation. The amount of experiments done and documented is very large and goes through all ages, materials and techniques. Besides the seemingly unpredictable ‘human factor’, well structured experiments have given food for thought about performance in the past. Often, we are unfamiliar with parameters of past behaviour or past techniques, think for example about crop yield experiments using medieval or Neolithic like methods and crops. Comparability between existing experiments and repeatability are important hallmarks of good experimentation.


Experimental archaeology is not simply about handicraft only. Experimentation has become part of a toolkit of methods to extract knowledge from the archaeological record concerning objects, behaviour and processes. Examples will be given to discuss the range and limits of experiment as an archaeological method.




Finish Your Plate! Rethinking Relative Utility Factors to Better Model Resource Potential in Prehistoric Diets


By Dr. William Schindler - Department of Sociology and Anthropology and,

Dr. Aaron Krochmal - Biology Department

Washington College

Chestertown, MD


ABSTRACT: Optimal foraging models often rank individual resources based upon relative utility factors. These evaluations influence archaeological interpretations of prehistoric settlement, diet, subsistence selection and utilization. However, researchers calculating this factor are often drawing from a modern context where perspectives of diet and nutrition have little semblance to the past and run the risk of resulting in erroneous resource ranking. This paper attempts to shed itself of biased notions of “edibility” and demonstrates how, utilizing a combination of ethnographic and experimental research, calculations of “potential” relative utility can be quantified for the white-tailed deer.




Middle Range Theory: An approach for Experimental Work.


By Maria-Louise Sidoroff, Ph.D.

Prehistoric Ceramics Specialist

Montauk, NY


In this paper, after a short review of theoretical approaches to archaeological research, some successful examples are discussed where Middle Range Theory was applied to experimental work.



Note: Additional papers to be offered will be listed when available.







The Characterization of Microwear Polishes Using Incident-Light, SEM, Interferometer, and Atomic Force Microscopes on Mousterian Tools from Weasel Cave, North Ossetia, Russia


By Larry R. Kimball1, Tonya S. Coffey2, Nathan Faulks2, and Nazim Hidjrati3


1 Department of Anthropology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC  28608


2 Department of Physics, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC  28608


3 Institute of History and Archaeology, North Ossetian State University,

Vladikavkaz,  North Ossetia-Alania, Russia 362040


ABSTRACT: The functions of flaked stone tools are usually determined by the observation of microwear traces or “polishes” with the incident-light microscope with magnifications of 50-200x – known as the Keeley Method.  A team of physicists and archaeologists at Appalachian State University are using the scanning electron microscope (SEM), optical interferometer, and the atomic force microscope to more accurately characterize these microwear traces.  The use of these different instruments permits observations from relatively low to very high magnifications and to quantitiavely measure the different features of the microwear traces, for the latter two microscopes.  Herein, we present the results of an analysis of Mousterian stone tools from Weasel Cave, North Ossetia, Russia which are interpreted to have been used to cut meat, cut fresh hide, scrape dry hide, plane wood, and work bone.



A Prehistoric Method For Constructing a River Cane Blow Gun


By Doug Myers


There is no definitive archaeological nor early ethnographic evidence for prehistoric blowgun use in the Southeastern US. Utilizing only tools, materials and techniques available during the prehistoric, a conjectural method for stone-age blowgun production is demonstrated. 


ABSTRACT: The blowgun is a simple hunting weapon used throughout the Southeastern United States during the early historic period.  Primarily suited for small game animals such as squirrels and rabbits, the blowgun could also be used to take birds as large as the turkey. To date, no archaeological evidence for the prehistoric existence of blowguns in the U.S. has been identified.  Early ethnographers, such as Frank Speck, speculated that the blowgun did not exist in the Southeast prior to European contact and natives’ access to metal tools. Further, the complete lack of early ethnographic references to blowgun use also suggests the absence of the prehistoric Southeastern blowgun.


Utilizing only tools, materials and techniques available during the prehistoric, a conjectural method for stone-age blowgun production is demonstrated. Through these methods, prehistoric Native Americans would have been able to produce effective blowguns and darts using only native sourced materials. 




Interpreting Prehistoric Structures Through Modeling and Replication [Illustrated with a Conjectural Model of Structure 1: Berry Site (31BK22)]


By Mark Butler


ABSTRACT: Scale modeling can be used as an effective archaeological tool. Based on preliminary findings at the Berry Site (31BK22), a conjectural scale model of Structure 1 has been constructed.


Ideal scale models combine available archaeological site information, related ethnographic accounts and practical materials' capabilities/limitations to produce a physical  "snap shot" of a structure. Models can be useful in interpretive/educational programs, fund raising efforts and as effective learning tools for structural and archaeological site interpretation. Accurate modeling often requires elements of data evaluation not typical of standard site analysis. As regards reconstruction projects, the value of modeling cannot be understated.




A Light In The Forest: An Old Rag Archaeology Overview


Steve Watts

Schiele Museum

Gastonia, NC


At the end of the ground breaking Old Rag Project in 1972, Errett Callahan mused: “It is hoped that some day, after partial or complete disintegration, the site itself may be excavated using conventional archaeological methods. The findings may not be without relevance.” Twenty-seven years later the recovery and analysis of the Old Rag materials began.  An important chapter in the history of experimental archaeology in America could now be closed. The story of Old Rag’s completion is as unique as the project itself.




What Plant Is This?


Dr. Gail E. Wagner

Department of Anthropology, University of South Carolina


Try your hand at matching the sixteenth-century descriptions of plants used by the Indians (written in Old English) with the name and current picture of the plant. Discover how well early European explorers and colonists described the new plants they encountered to the folks back home in Europe.





Break Out Sessions


We are very pleased to be able to offer 3 special Break Out Sessions.  The natural resource utilization walks explore the translation of natural resources into food production and material culture development.    The two photography sessions are designed to enhance your skill level in basic photography of experiments and research as well as dig site documentation.




Gathering and Gardens: Natural Resources for the Native Walk


Join any one (or more) of several one-hour walks through the grounds at the Museum that will examine the prehistoric and historic uses of the plants we encounter, focusing on weeds and trees. These walks are suitable for people of all ages, although you need to be mobile enough to walk on uneven pathways. Try your hand at making twine from fiber, and taste some plant foods gathered from the wild. Learn about plants used for smoking, fiber, dyes, food, construction, and even for rituals. The information imparted derives from historic accounts as well as archaeological findings.


Instructor Bio: Dr. Gail E. Wagner, Associate Professor in anthropology at the University of South Carolina, studies the relationships between peoples and plants, both past and present. She has been helping organizations re-create period Indian gardens since 1978, and around 1981 oversaw the reconstruction of a thatch-roofed, ridgepole-construction, lathing-and-daub house at the Fort Ancient village of SunWatch in southwestern Ohio. She has been giving plant walks/talks to the public since the mid-1970s. She doesn’t just walk through the woods – she eats her way through the woods!





Photography Sessions   


Session I: Digital Basics – This one hour session will teach the photographer how to properly set up a digital point and shoot or SLR camera to improve the quality of the images they take. Storage and printing will be covered as well. NOTE: Attendees should bring their camera, the owner’s manual and a separate flash if they have one.


Instructor: Jamie Walker

Class Limit: 20



Session II: Shooting for Publication and Documentation – This 1 1/2 hour session will address specific issues related to shooting images for publication and documentary purposes. Advanced storage issues will be covered as well as advanced lighting techniques. NOTE: Attendees should bring their camera, owner’s manual, flash, tripod and any other gear they might want to lug around!


Instructor: Jamie Walker

Class Limit: 10


Instructor Bio: Jamie Walker has been a photographer since he was a teenager. Through the years he has shot many different types of subject matter but has a particular emphasis on natural history, experiential education and people. His award winning photos have been published on book covers, magazine covers, and used in dvds and other media. An adventurous type, Jamie has hung from rappel lines 300 feet above a sinkhole in the jungles of Belize and swam in 4000 feet of water just to get the right angle. His most recent project was the publication of a book entitled 14 Days in the Long Grass which includes photos and a diary from his African safari with his oldest son James. The adventure continues….




Round Table Discussion



“The Current State of Reconstructive/Experimental Archaeology: Here and Abroad and, the Future of RE-ARC”


Chair: Dr. Maria-Louise Sidoroff

Prehistoric Ceramics Specialist

Montauk, NY



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