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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Amending Models of Trans-Sierran Obsidian Tool Production and Exchange


Several very large modified and unmodified pieces of obsidian have been recovered separately from and near archaeological sites on the Pineridge Ranger District, Sierra National Forest, Fresno County, California (Fig. 1). The discovery of these specimens, weighing up to 7 kg., on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada suggests that bulky, minimally reduced obsidian raw material and cores were a regular part of the prehistoric obsidian exchange inventory. Current lithic technology models incorporating a paradigm that emphasizes efficiency in resource and artifact procurement, production, distribution, and exchange may not adequately characterize trans-Sierran prehistoric lithic production systems. This paper describes the subject artifacts and their dating, and discusses the finds vis-a-vis models of obsidian artifact production and exchange in the western Great Basin and southern Sierra Nevada.

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