Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Walter E. Klippel

Committee Members

Jeff Chapman, Jan F. Simek, Michael H. Logan


Hayes Shelter (40ML143) is a small rockshelter site located on the Duck River in Middle Tennessee. Archaeological investigations were conducted at the site during the summers of 1982 and 1983 by the University of Tennessee Department of Anthropology as part of the Columbia Archaeological Project. This thesis presents the results of these investigations and compares the lithic assemblages from Hayes Shelter with those recovered from seven additional sheltered sites and eight open sites in or near the Central Duck River Basin.

By comparing the lithic assemblages from these 16 sites, information was gained on patterns of variability in the distribution of raw material types, tools, debitage, and flake debris. The resulting data suggest that on a regional basis, raw material selection strategies during the Middle Archaic commonly included locally available, but inferior quality cherts, while the strategies of the later periods relied on these resources less frequently. Models of prehistoric organizational strategies advanced through previous research have attempted to explain this pattern as reflecting a fundamental shift in settlement strategy, a shift necessitated by population crowding and resource scarcity resulting from the arid climatic conditions of the Hypsithermal Interval (ca. 8000 - 6000 B. P.).

According to previous models, the distribution of lithics in tool and debitage classes and among flake debris reduction stages are also expected to show a shift at the Late Archaic transition. Middle Archaic assemblages are expected to be more homogeneous (more evenly distributed), while the later assemblages should have less even distributions, reflecting a more complex logistical strategy involving more long-distance transport of raw materials which were reduced in stages at various sites. However, the data in this study do not support the expected pattern. The composition of both Middle and Late Archaic assemblages in this sample appears to be influenced by resource selection, and this, in turn, is largely a function of site location. Change in raw material selection coincides with a climatic shift marked by increased precipitation at the close of the Hypsithermal Interval. It is suggested that restricted precipitation and a concomitant reduction in river and tributary discharge rates may have diminished the availability of usable chert gravels otherwise transported as bedload and deposited as lag gravel in the Central Duck River system.

As a preliminary investigation of the regional patterns of lithic technology during the Archaic Period, this study suggests that site location (with respect to lithic resources) and site type (sheltered versus open-air) have considerable influence on the composition of lithic assemblages.

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