Procurement and use of chert from localized sources in Trinidad


Relatively little is known about the procurement and use of chert as a lithic resource by prehistoric Amerindians in Trinidad. Although not common, chert artifacts are present on both Archaic and Ceramic Age sites throughout much of Trinidad. Recent research in the Central Range has located and documented two previously undocumented localized sources where chert is readily available. Other previously reported localized sources of chert in the Northern, Central, and Southern Ranges were also visited. The chert at each source is described and characterized in terms of suitability for working. Analysis of chert artifacts from ten sites spread across Trinidad, as well as the description of chert artifacts from several other sites, revealed that Malchan Hill, located in the Central Range, appears to have been a primary source for many of the chert artifacts found in Trinidad. The technology that was used to produce the majority of chert artifacts is based on bipolar percussion for the production of simple flake blanks. These sharp unmodified flake blanks appear to have been used for various cutting and scraping purposes in Archaic times, whereas many of the flake blanks were smashed into angular wedge-shaped pieces to be used as teeth in grater boards for the processing of plant foods, especially cassava, in Ceramic times.


Center for Archaeological Research

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Journal of Caribbean Archaeology