Lithic Analysis of Chipped Stone Artifacts Recovered From Quebrada Jaguay, Peru

Benjamin R. Tanner

As of 2002, Degree of Master of Science (MS) Quaternary and Climate Studies published under the auspices of the Climate Change Institute.


Quebrada Jaguay, a Terminal Pleistocene to Early Holocene archaeological site in Southern Peru, is recognized as one of the few sites in the Americas that features evidence of a Paleoindian maritime adaptation. Faunal remains from this multicomponent shell midden include shellfish, fish, crustaceans, and shorebirds. Lithic remains recovered from the site over the course of two field seasons (1996 and 1999) provide information about the technology of the site's inhabitants and afford comparisons with other contemporary sites. These lithic materials provide answers to questions dealing with lithic procurement and production strategies and questions about relationships with other groups along the coast. A systematic survey of several potential quarry sites conducted in 2000 offers useful information about source locations and compliments the lithic analysis. Methods used in the analysis provide a framework for future researchers in the area to use. At Quebrada Jaguay, there is a strong preference for finer-grained materials during the earliest occupation, with a wider variety of materials present later on. In general, as distance from the quarry increases, waste-flake size decreases. Obsidian, with its source in Aka, 130 krn distant from Quebrada Jaguay, demonstrates that the inhabitants of the site had some contact with the highlands. Lithic materials from the various components indicate later stage reduction, with primary production focused on the manufacture of use flakes from prepared cores, as well as the maintenance of bifacial and unifacial tools. In the Early Holocene component from the site, there is a shift from late-stage reduction to initial reduction. Quantification of debitage attributes permits the comparison of Quebrada Jaguay lithic materials to materials from Quebrada Tacahuay, another late Pleistocene maritime site. Because so few maritime Paleoindian sites have been discovered, Quebrada Jaguay provides a unique opportunity to study alternative Paleoindian lifeways (those not related to big-game hunting). The methodology used and analysis of the lithic materials recovered from the site provide a useful groundwork for future researchers to build on. When future work aimed at locating additional sites in the highlands is completed, we will understand much more about Paleoindian migration patterns and will potentially understand more about the initial settlement of the New World.