Evaluating rudimentary prehistoric stone artifacts from the American southwest and Mexico
The goals and background of this study are presented. A sample of rudimentary artifacts, recovered through survey and excavation from contexts in the American Southwest and southern Mexico, were physically examined to verify or reject their assumed validity as tools and their use in agricultural activities. Macroscopic and microscopic examinations were undertaken on these often overlooked and misidentified artifacts to ascertain evidence of human manufacture and use-wear. The results of the study indicate the specimens represent three general form categories of tools that have uses related to excavation and earth moving. To augment this evidence, information was gathered regarding find contexts, historic records, and from relevant literature. The geographic find locations and contexts of the artifacts, as well as their temporal placement, and likely group affiliations, are then discussed. Evidence indicates that, although probably used for other purposes, these minimally-retouched, hand-held, digging and earth moving tools were used in the preparation and maintenance of agricultural fields and irrigation canals, and functioned to support the subsistence system from ca. 400-1450 CE. These implements evidently also held social and ceremonial values and functions. The rudimentary nature of these tools is often found not to be commensurate with the sophisticated complexity of the associated agricultural infrastructure. Initial, very tentative, hypotheses are presented for this incongruity.
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