Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

David G. Anderson

Committee Members

Boyce N. Driskell, Kandace R. Hollenbach, Daniel Simberloff


Stone tools are one of the most common and lasting classes of artifacts in the archaeological record. Through the application of appropriate theoretical frameworks to the study of lithic assemblages, we may seek invaluable insights into the nature of human behavior in the past. In this study, I present a detailed analysis of the chipped stone tool assemblage from Dust Cave (1LU496), a stratified rockshelter site in northwestern Alabama. This site has preserved a record of nearly 7,000 years of human occupation, spanning the Pleistocene- Holocene transition, a period of great climatic and cultural change in North America.

Through the application of the Technological Organization framework, I address changes in the lithic artifact assemblage that reflect shifting behavioral strategies in the context of a dynamic natural and social environment. This approach views technology as a set of behaviors that facilitate the interaction of people with their environments, allowing tool users to meet challenges and to take advantage of opportunities presented by the natural and social worlds. With its emphasis on efficiency and decision-making, I argue that Technological Organization articulates well with approaches within Behavioral Ecology. I therefore root my analysis of the lithic materials within the Behavioral Ecology-informed studies of subsistence behavior at Dust Cave presented by Hollenbach (2005) and Carmody (2009). Together, these subsistence and lithic studies provide insight into the decisions being made by foragers in the context of a changing natural and social environment.

My technological and functional analyses reveal continuity in the range of activities represented in the toolkit, but profound changes in the position that Dust Cave occupied in the cultural system. My analysis of tool production strategies, toolkit diversity, and patterns of tool use and discard reveals a shift from a logistically provisioned central place within an overall more residentially mobile system in the earliest periods of occupation, to a logistical station in the Middle Archaic. The richness of the environment, even in the Late Pleistocene, and the ease of raw material availability in the region had profound effects on the nature of forager decision-making at Dust Cave.

Appendix A.docx (629 kB)
Appendix A: Primary Tool Data

APPENDIX B.pdf (442 kB)
Appendix B: Functional Analysis Records

Appendix C.docx (51 kB)
Appendix C: Hafted Biface Records

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