Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Gerald F. Schroedl


Temporal and spatial variation in functional and stylistic attributes of lithic and ceramic artifacts from upper East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and western North Carolina are documented using concepts of an evolutionary theory of cultural selection. In all, 29,098 lithic and 7,625 ceramic artifacts were selected for this study from 164 sites using purposive and random sampling techniques. Chronological ordering of these artifacts and their contexts are based on 43 existing radiocarbon dates for Early Archaic through Protohistoric period contexts, and comparison with radiocarbon dated components outside the study area. Nominal and ratio-level artifact attributes were partitioned into functional and stylistic classes for analysis using frequency distribution comparisons, graphs, and principal component, cluster, and canonical discriminant analyses.

The study identified significant temporal trends in functional and stylistic traits. Functional evolutionary changes in projectile point form (from stemmed to unstemmed) and size (from large to small in unstemmed points) occurred over time and are related to changes from an atlatl dart to bow and arrow technology. Changes over time in settlement location were also functional in an evolutionary sense, with later intensive occupation on or near river floodplains tied to agricultural intensification. Stylistic traits of ceramic surface treatment increased in diversity over time with an increasing importance of these attributes as intercultural communicative elements. The study demonstrates that the division of attributes and even artifact classes into functional and stylistic classes improves the interpretation of their evolutionary significance. The results of the study also suggest that the concept of cultural selection can become part of a more inclusive evolutionary biology.

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