Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Charles H. Faulkner

Committee Members

Major C. R. McCollough, Paul W . Parmalee


The purpose of this study was to systematically classify perforated bone tubes known as flutes or whistles which had been recovered from archaeological sites in eastern North America. A sample was established from specimens described in the literature and additional specimens examined by the author. Sizeable collections in the Rochester Museum and Science Center in Rochester, New York, and the Ohio State Museum in Columbus, Ohio, were measured and photographed by the author. Specimens were also viewed at the McClung Museum in Knoxville, Tennessee.

A descriptive typology was constructed and spatial-temporal and functional correlations were tested against it. Spatial-temporal factors were seen to correlate most highly with factors of morphological construction as reflected in the typology. Functional factors correlated less directly with typological categories. Functional attributes were reviewed under the formal categories of functional performance, functional context and functional use. Under the third category, evidence for use of perforated bone tubes as game calls was found to support such a function in addition to the traditionally ascribed ceremonial function for these artifacts. No spatial-temporal correlations with functional factors could be discerned.

The primary value of this study was in the typological description of a class of artifacts for the first time. Further research using a larger sample was recommended.

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