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«By James R. Keron Graduate Program in Anthropology Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Faculty of ...»

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James R. Keron

Graduate Program



Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements

for the degree of Master of Arts

Faculty of Graduate Studies

The University of Western Ontario

London, Ontario

May, 2003

8 James R. Keron 2003




Chief Advisor Examining Board __________________________ _______________________________

Advisory Committee _______________________________

___________________________ _______________________________

___________________________ _______________________________

The thesis by James R. Keron entitled

Iroquoian Chert Acquisition:

Changing Patterns in the Late Woodland of Southwestern Ontario is accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Date ____________________ _______________________________

Chair of Examining Board The thesis by Abstract This thesis examines the organization of Iroquoian chert acquisition technology by comparing a number of sites in the southwestern Ontario. The relative amount of cherts from various sources is examined through time and space and across various types of sites looking for patterns both between sites and within sites. During Glen Meyer times a direct embedded acquisition pattern of Kettle Point chert is evident. Groups from the east of the study area could pass freely through intervening groups to acquire chert with distance being the only factor determining the quantity used. A transition to a down-theline exchange pattern controlled by lineages takes place with the advent of the Middle Ontario Iroquoian (MOI) stage coincident with other significant changes in social organization indicative of increasing complexity. Also, at that time, there is a general constriction in the accessibility of Kettle Point chert. Use of this chert rebounds through time to an almost obsessive use at the late prehistoric Lawson site.

Keywords Archaeology, Southwestern Ontario, Chert, Acquisition, Iroquoian, Down-the-line, Lineage control

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A number of people provided valuable assistance during the course of this study. Dr.

Robert Pearce of the London Museum of Archaeology provided access to material from a number of sites and took the time to locate the material and prepare it for the study. Dr.

Ron Williamson gave permission to use the Caradoc material on which his thesis was based and Karen Mattila of the Lower Thames River Conservation Authority located the requested sites and brought the Caradoc material into London where I could easily pick it up for analysis. Dr. Holly Martelle provided a loan of the lithic material from the Sackrider site (AfHh-320). Shari Prowse assisted with the field work, especially the Dorchester Village site and was always available and ready to discuss ideas and approaches. A number of individuals loaned various hard-to-find books. Amongst these were Paul Lennox, Dana Poulton and Dr. Chris Ellis. In this line, a special thank you goes to Dr. Susan Jamieson of Trent University who graciously copied and mailed me the report on the Slack-Caswell site that provided corroborative evidence to this thesis. I am also indebted to a number of individuals who took the time to discuss ideas and approaches for this thesis. These include Dr. Dan Jorgensen, Dr. Andrew Nelson, Dr.

Michael Spence, and Dr. Peter Timmins of the Department of Anthropology, Dr. Micha Pazner of the Department of Geography, Dr. Tom Wonnacott of the Dept. of Statistics and Actuarial Science and Bill Fox and Paul Lennox. I would also like to thank the members of the examining committee, Bill Fox, Dr. Robert Pearce and Dr. Andrew Nelson for their insightful comments and questions. Finally many thanks to Dr. Chris Ellis for agreeing to supervise the thesis and providing numerous comments and suggestions that have augmented the thesis. His prompt review and timely return of comments on various chapters made the task much easier for me. Finally, it should be noted that any errors and omissions remaining in the thesis are entirely of my doing and could best be termed Ain spite of@ the time, efforts and good advice of all these people.

–  –  –

Chapter 1: Introduction This thesis is concerned with documenting and explaining patterns of chipped stone source use on Ontario Iroquoian sites (ca. A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1500) in southwestern Ontario focusing on sites in the area of London, Ontario. The aim is to gain insights into changing patterns of social interaction over time and into how chipped stone acquisition and chipped stone tool production was organized. The study area selected is shown in Figure 1.

The genesis of this thesis lies within earlier work (Keron 1986) where the percentage of Kettle Point chert, originating to the northwest on the Lake Huron shoreline, was compared between a number of Iroquoian sites in southeast Middlesex County. While a distance decay pattern (least effort) was evident as distance increased from the source, there were some unusual variations in it that were interpreted as being culturally influenced. These conclusions form the underlying hypotheses to this thesis.

Briefly summarized these are as follows. Locations, towns, and sites are shown in Figures 2 and 3.

1. In one site, Harrietsville (AfHf-10), there were significantly different frequencies of Kettle Point chert between the two midden samples (25.2% vs 3.7%). This was interpreted as reflective of the historically documented pattern of trade where lineages controlled trade routes. The logic behind this was that people living in lineage specific longhouses tended to deposit garbage into nearby middens.

2. There was an distinctive drop in frequency of Kettle Point chert between the Lambeth cluster and sites in the Pond Mills cluster further to the east (see Figure 3). The frequency at Lambeth tends to be around 60% while at Pond Mills and areas to the east it drops to 20%. The drop from Lambeth to Pond Mills is startling and almost step-wise given that the distance is 68 km from the source versus 75km from the source respectively. From Pond Mills east to Dorchester, the frequency stayed about 20% over the next 6 km and then drops abruptly again to the Whittaker Lake area where it is 5% at a distance of 90-95 km. There were several conclusions drawn from this.

a. First, the difference between Lambeth and Pond Mills was interpreted as being reflective of two distinct groups with Kettle Point chert passed from the west to the east on a trade route in a down-the-line exchange pattern (Renfrew et al. 1968). The hypothetical trade route was defined as being from the Lawson (or London) community to the Lambeth community to the Pond Mills community to the Whittaker community (see Figure 3 for community locations and site names).

b. Further, as the 20% ratio was consistent from Glen Meyer times to late prehistoric Neutral, this was interpreted to mean exchange patterns had developed at least during the Early Ontario Iroquois stage (EOI) and had remained in place for some time. A further implication of this conclusion would be that the percentage frequency of Kettle Point chert would be a marker of individual groups through time. One site, the Dorchester Village site (AfHg-24) seemed anomalous in that the frequency of Kettle Point chert was only 3%. However, the sample was small and it was not a controlled recovery.

3. As all sites contain all stages of reduction, the hypothesized trade material would be in Kettle Point chert nodules rather than a more reduced form. Cortex bearing flakes and debris and cores occur at all sites, even the most easterly.

4. There appears to be a difference in chert usage and source types by site type and especially between seasonally occupied agricultural cabin sites and larger more permanent village sites.

There were enough interesting trends in the material that was analyzed at that time to warrant an expanded investigation conducting a detailed comparison amongst a number of Iroquoian sites in Middlesex County to determine if additional data would support or disprove these hypotheses.

The objective of this study is to examine the technological organization (Nelson

1991) of Iroquoian chipped lithic technology through time as clues to the underlying social and economic changes through this time period. The primary focus of this will be as it relates to chert acquisition. This approach will inevitably lead into a second related objective: to review Iroquoian culture history from the perspective of lithic technology.

Iroquoian technological organization will be approached by examining Iroquoian sites in the London area, controlling for time, site cluster and site type. Information to be sought includes scheduling of activities across various site types, the effects of more reliance on horticulture and consequently, more sedentary lifestyle, and the effects of increasing social complexity, population growth and population aggregation into larger villages.

The major focus of the study will be on strategies for raw material acquisition, whether trade or direct procurement (Binford 1979), and the relationships with adjacent groups either Iroquoian to the east or Algonkian to the west. In the immediate London area, there are no primary sources of chert and only low quality chert cobbles in secondary deposits. Obtaining higher grade outcrop chert necessitated access to deposits either 50km to the northwest or 80-100 km to the east requiring either specialized acquisition trips or trade, both of which would mean interaction with intervening groups.

Iroquoian culture history is heavily based on changes in the pottery decoration following MacNeish (1952) and Wright (1966). More recently a focus on settlement patterns has been evident (Pearce 1996; Williamson 1985). An auxiliary objective of this study is to look at the development of Iroquoian culture through time from the perspective of the lithic technology, to examine to what degree it supports or contradicts the existing culture historical models (see Figure 5 for a depiction of the various stages in

Wright=s [1966] model). Some of the questions to be examined include the following:

How does the technological organization relate to the transition from the Early Ontario Iroquoian Stage (EOI) to the Middle Ontario Iroquoian (MOI) Stage? What does the organization of lithic technology say about the social organization of the Glen Meyer peoples? To what extent does the lithic technology support assumptions of increasing warfare particularly through the later periods?

The London vicinity is aptly suited for this analysis for a number of reasons. First, the sites cover all three stages of Wright=s Ontario Iroquois Tradition (1966) from early Glen Meyer through to late prehistoric Neutral. Second, research has also indicated that there are a number of distinct clusters of sites in the area. Third, a number of different types of sites have been excavated varying from large villages to smaller hamlets and special purpose cabin sites. Finally, as it is to be expected that the chert acquisitions are quite complex, selection of Middlesex County helps reduce the complexity since it represents the most northerly extension of Iroquoian culture in southwestern Ontario.

Choosing the most northerly sites will reduce the complexity somewhat as there are no Iroquoian groups to the north from which chert can be obtained, although, it does not preclude the presence of non-Iroquoian groups.

On the issue of terminology, it should be noted that the terms Atrade@ and Aexchange@ will be used interchangeably in this thesis. Given the nature of the societies involved Aexchange@ would be the better term to use from the anthropological perspective as opposed to "trade" following Sahlins (1965) and Flannery and Marcus (1972:287). However, the ethnographic work on the Huron (Tooker 1991; Trigger 1987) uses the terms Atrade@ and Atrade routes@ to refer to the exchange of goods. This term most likely derives from the use of the term Afur trade@ in the historical writing on 17th century Canada. In deference to Trigger=s use of the term, it will be retained here but most often will be used when discussing ownership and/or existence of Atrade routes@ as this thesis attempts to identify the same phenomena discussed by Trigger in the prehistoric period in the London area. At other times, the more proper term Aexchange@ will be used. Similarly, the terms Aacquisition@ and Aprocurement@ are both used.

AAcquisition@ is used as the general term for the act of obtaining chert while AProcurement@ is used in the sense defined by Binford (1979) for acquiring necessary goods, in this case chert, through different organizational strategies such as Aembedded procurement@ or Adirect procurement@.

History of Research Iroquoian archaeological research in the province extends back over a century with some of the early pioneers such a David Boyle (e.g. 1896) and W.J Wintemberg (e.g.

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