Past people satisfied their tool stone needs while negotiating a lithic landscape that varyied along multiple dimensions. To appreciate decisions made by past people, then, the lithic landscape must be known. This paper reports on a technique to rapidly and reliably characterize the lithic landscape in terms of nodule frequency, dimensions, and lithology using strategic fieldwork coupled with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based lab work. As a case study, we consider gravel terrace deposits from the Green River Basin of SW Wyoming. Using the technique detailed here, we were able to collect information on over 5,000 cobbles in approximately 11 person-days of field work and 40 hours of lab work. These data are then used to develop a picture of the lithic landscape that can be used to better interpret nearby archaeological assemblages.
This research was made possible through Grant MT-2210-05-NC-13 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).