Identification of Macrofossils within Stone Tools: a possibility for tracing the source of artifacts? A possibility for tracing the source of artifacts?

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Timothy E. Allan
Matthew Bolton


This paper discusses the application of malacological identification of macrofossils in stone tools. A macroscopically distinct toolstone utilized by prehistoric peoples, reported widely in archaeological consulting literature across central and southern Alberta (Meyer et al. 2007; de Mille 2009; Bohach 2010; Porter 2014), features fossilized root traces and occasional large fossil shells. These fossils can be identified, and correlated with temporal and geologic formations indicative of the environments within which the taxa occurred. Artifacts with fossils morphologically coherent with Hydrobia, Lioplacodes, and Viviparus spp. are identified in stone artifacts analyzed in this paper. These taxa are consistent with depositional environments of Paleocene period Paskapoo Formation sedimentary rocks, particularly, as identified at the Blindman-Red Deer River confluence and Joffre roadcut paleontological localities (Hoffman and Stockey 2011). In this paper we explore how the identification of these fossils offer clues to the procurement areas which were sought out by prehistoric toolmakers. We do not suggest that all Red Deer Mudstone is from these localities, though the fossil molluscs presented so far do not refute this conclusion, but we do suggest that identifying large fossil shells can be a critical diagnostic tool for identifying the geologic origin of artifacts.

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