Glen Dornoch Research Design

Sites 38HR475 and 38HR476 were evaluated for NRHP significance because they appeared to retain good integrity, which suggested they could yield data which could be applied to such broad research topics as cultural chronology, artifact assemblage characterization, and subsistence patterns. Subsequent evaluation indicated that intact contexts were present, and data from these two sites can contribute important information about local or regional history and/or prehistory. Data recovery at 38HR475 and 38HR476 follows a series of investigative methods which will allow meaningful statements to be made about artifact and feature content and patterns which will be used to address questions about each of these issues.

Cultural chronology

Cultural chronology refers to the ability of a site to add information about the sequence of human events in the region. The ability of a site to contribute significant information about the regional cultural chronology rests with its ability to provide direct dating data using radiocarbon dating and/or relative dating data using temporally diagnostic ceramic and lithic artifacts. For a site to have significant culture chronology research potential it must minimally demonstrate: (1) preservation of organic remains from good contexts that would provide reliable radiocarbon dating samples; or (2) horizontal or vertical separation of cultural components with associated diagnostic artifacts.

Artifact assemblage characterization

Artifacts can be used in reconstruction of cultural history, based on the classification of artifacts and artifact assemblages, or associations of artifacts that are thought to be contemporaneou. Artifact assemblages are comprised of all items (including features) at a site which “exhibit physical attributes that can be assumed to be the result of human activity” (Dunnell 1971). The patterning of these assemblages reflects behavior patterns or shared activities of a total community. It is this patterning of contemporary collections of artifacts and features that is used to interpret the lifeways of a site’s occupants. The composition and distribution of artifact assemblages provides valuable information about site structure, activities, and function(s). Comparisons of assemblages from the same time period (synchronic) or from different time periods (diachronic) require that each assemblage is placed within a regional culture chronology. If assemblages are mixed, the resulting distortion does not allow for reliable identifications of individual assemblages nor meaningful interpretations of associated activity patterns.

Subsistence reconstruction

Subsistence analyses rely on plant (botanical) and animal (faunal) remains from archaeological contexts to deduce dietary patterns, including species use, relative dietary significance of individual species, and procurement strategies (Reitz 1990; Wagner 1995; Wing and Brown 1979). However, the usefulness and reliability of plant (ethnobotany) and animal (zooarchaeology) studies is limited by the contexts from which these remains are recovered. Faunal remains are typically well preserved when found in direct association with shell. Botanical remains are more likely to survive in an intact and identifiable form if they have been exposed to fire and become carbonized. Finally, the primary limitation to ethnobotanical and zooarchaeological analyses is context. Preserved biological remains from contexts that are not associated with distinct cultural horizons or features, or cannot be directly or relatively dated, do not provide reliable information.

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