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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Quantifying the association of chipped stone crescents with wetlands and paleoshorelines of western North America

  • Author(s): Sanchez, Gabriel M
  • Erlandson, Jon M.
  • Tripcevich, Nicholas
  • et al.

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The data associated with this publication are in the supplemental files.

In America’s Far West, chipped stone crescents dating between approximately 12,000 to 8000 cal BP are often found associated with Western Stemmed Tradition points. Crescent function is debated, but scholars have suggested that they are closely associated with wetland habitats, an association that has never been systematically investigated. Using a geographic information system-based Euclidean distance analysis, we compared a sample of 100 geolocated crescent-bearing sites in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and California with reconstructed paleoshorelines. We confirmed a strong association of crescents with wetlands—94 of the 100 sites and approximately 99% of crescents themselves were located within 10 km of reconstructed paleoshorelines. Our results provide quantitative and region-wide support for a strong association of crescents with terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene wetland habitats. The diversity of aquatic habitats crescents are associated with, along with their morphology, suggests an association with faunal rather than plant resources, possibly birds of the Pacific Flyway.

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