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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effects of Grinding Stone Reuse on the Archaeological Record in the Eastern Great Basin


Archaeologists are aware that many factors change archaeological sites after they have been initially deposited. One kind of post-depositional phenomena that could change the material record is the scavenging and reuse of manos and metates from older sites by the later inhabitants of an area. If this has occurred, even on a limited basis, grinding tools may be disproportionately represented on older sites. In this paper I will argue (1) that the scavenging and reuse of grinding stones by hunter-gatherers should be expected on theoretical grounds under many circumstances and that this behavior has occurred in the Great Basin and elsewhere, and (2) that there is a statistically significant bias in the occurrence of grinding stones toward Late Prehistoric sites in the eastern Great Basin. I will then discuss the consequences of such a pattern for archaeological interpretation of site function.

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