Flake Morphology, Fluvial Dynamics, and Debitage Transport Potential

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Since archaeological sites are often located in or near fluvial environments, a thorough understanding of corresponding formation processes is a critical component of archaeological research. Within this context, we address the following question: how does flake morphology condition transport potential? Specifically, do flakes behave as the idealized spheres often used to characterize geological materials and if so, how might this process modify a debitage assemblage? To address this important issue, we present the results of a fluvial transport experiment designed to evaluate the relationships between flake size, shape, weight, curvature, and transport potential. We begin with an overview of fluvial mechanics and previous archaeological fluvial transport studies and use these studies to design an experiment intended to fill gaps in our knowledge of the relationships between flake morphology and transport potential. Our experimental results suggest that all things being equal, flake weight is the most important variable in both settling velocity and transport distance, although flake shape conditions transport as well. Finally, our study demonstrates the potential structure of fluvially transported assemblages as lag deposits and suggests that fluvially transported assemblages may retain key behavioral information.

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Byers, David A., Elise Hargiss, and Judson Byrd Finley. "Flake morphology, fluvial dynamics, and debitage transport potential." Geoarchaeology 30, no. 5 (2015): 379-392.

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Sociology and Anthropology