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Toward a Definition of Pinto Points


Inconsistencies in the identification of Pinto projectile point types, as used in Great Basin and Mojave Desert archaeology, have created chronological as well as typological problems (Warren 1980). Thomas' (1981:22) attempt to "clarify the situation" by assigning the type name "Gatecliff Split-stem" to the class of points that formerly had been included under the Pinto rubric in the western and central Great Basin, reflects the need for an adequate definition of Pinto points. We have assumed that the Pinto designation should be retained in the Mojave Desert where it was first used (Amsden 1935), unless it can be shown no longer to have a viable application. The viable application of any type is in part dependent upon its intended analytical function. The Pinto point type traditionally has been used primarily as a temporal type, or time marker. The Pinto point type, as defined here, is assumed to be a temporal type and the purpose of this paper is to take the initial step in testing the validity of that assumption. The validity of a temporal type is dependent upon two criteria: 1) a definable temporal distribution of the type; and 2) the consistent occurrence of a set or sets of physical attributes. In this paper we address only the second criterion: the physical attributes of the Pinto points in the Mojave Desert.

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