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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Surprise Valley Projectile Points and Their Chronological Implications


Great Basin archaeologists continue to dispute important aspects of the regional projectile point sequence. Two alternative models are evaluated (the so-called "short" chronology originally developed by Heizer and others, and the "rejuvenation" model recently proposed by Flenniken and Wilke) in light of data from three sites in Surprise Valley, northeast California. All points in the sample were classified using a modified version of the Monitor Valley Key and their stratigraphic distributions assessed in light of predictions derived from the two models. Results support the "short" chronology; predictions derived from the Flenniken/Wilke model are rejected. Further tests involving obsidian hydration analysis are proposed. Implications for point typologies, stratigraphic interpretation, and regional sequences are discussed.

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