Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene Cave Use in Oregon’s Fort Rock Basin: An Examination of Western Stemmed Tradition Projectile Point Assemblages from Fort Rock Cave, Cougar Mountain Cave, and the Connley Caves


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January 2018


Luther Cressman’s pioneering investigations of northwestern Great Basin caves in the late 1930’s established that humans were in the region during the terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene (TP/EH) (~16,000-8300 cal BP). The Paleoindian assemblages recovered from Fort Rock Cave, Cougar Mountain Cave, and the Connley Caves suggest that these sites served as longer-term residential bases, although most other caves and rockshelters in the region saw shorter stays. In this thesis, I test the hypothesis that those three caves served as longer-term (weeks or months) residential bases. My results reveal that: (1) local-to-nonlocal projectile point toolstone proportions suggest that shorter-term occupations occurred at each site; (2) local-to-nonlocal debitage proportions suggest that longer-term occupations occurred at Fort Rock Cave and the Connley Caves; and (3) Fort Rock Cave projectile points manufactured on nonlocal toolstone are significantly more curated than those manufactured on local toolstone.


Fort Rock Basin, Lithic Technology, Oregon Archaeology, Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry, Source Provenance Studies, Western Stemmed Tradition

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