Functional variability within an assemblage of endscrapers

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In light of the issue concerning artifact form and function archaeologists recently have been interested in examining patterns of use-wear within and across morphologically discrete types. To this end, assemblages and morphologically distinct artifact types have been shown to display varying degrees of functional specificity. Further, it has been found that the results of analyses pertaining to specific morphological types for a given assemblage cannot be generalized for the same morphological types across assemblages (either spatially and/or temporally). In this study, a low-magnification microwear analysis is conducted on an assemblage of 67 late prehistoric/early historic, Northwest Alaskan Inupiat Eskimo endscrapers. Based upon ethnographic observations and considerations of edge angles, Eskimo endscrapers traditionally have been associated with hide working activities. Through the microwear analysis I have documented a wider range of functional variation in these endscrapers than hide processing. Other materials on which the scrapers were used include wood, bone, and antler. It is suggested here that ethnographic literature should be used with caution when evaluating variation in tool use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-51
Number of pages17
JournalLithic Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1984


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