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You’ve Got to Have the Right Tools

Posted on May 28, 2013 by in The OFI Blog

Cooke and Gonzalez

STRI Intern Jonathan Gonzalez (right) learns from staff scientist Dr. Richard Cooke (left)

Panamanian student Jonathan Gonzalez has been working with Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientist Richard Cooke to sort out some tools.

Two Precolumbian villages investigated by STRI archaeologists and students have produced large numbers of stone tools for everyday activities, such as grinding maize, polishing and sharpening axes, using the axes for woodwork and felling trees, doing household jobs, and hunting.

These sites (Cerro Juan Diaz and Sitio Sierra) were thriving villages during the same time period (200 BCE to 1515 CE). Although they were only 30 km apart, they used different categories of stone tools and raw materials. Sitio Sierra produced hundreds of jasper and andesite “blades” (flakes much longer than wide with straight edges). These tools are very scarce at Cerro Juan Diaz. At the latter site much fossilized wood was used. At the former it is virtually absent.

Jonathan Gonzalez is learning about archaeology by helping Richard Cooke classify the tools morphologically and by materials with a view to embarking on a detailed comparative study in order to tease out the reasons why these discrepancies exist in the stone assemblages at each site. Thanks for helping figure out all those tools guys!