Paleoclimatic Drought Conditions in the Northern Big Belt Mountains and the Effect on Lithic Materials
This paper will be answering the question of how paleoclimatic drought conditions in the Northern Big Belt Mountains affects, or does not affect, the distribution of lithic materials. The hypothesis states that during times of environmental stress, there will be a decrease in “expensive” materials such as obsidian and dacite. Additionally, the archaeological record will show a constant amount of “cheap” materials, such as Oregon chert, throughout time. Data was collected at 24LC2289- also known as the Sundog site- an archaeological site excavated in the northern Big Belt Mountains outside of Helena, Montana in the summer of 2017. A primary analysis of flakes as completed, followed by secondary analysis in which the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to determine the statistical significance of the materials throughout the layers of the pit. Charcoal and soil samples were taken from each pit level in order to complete pollen analysis and radiocarbon dating. Obsidian flakes and lithics larger than 10mm were removed to be sourced. As suggested by the hypothesis, obsidian and dacite were non-randomly significantly distributed, and Oregon chert was not. Other cultural factors and radiocarbon dates showed that obsidian and dacite are found more in times of environmental stability and less during times of stress, while Oregon chert use remains the same through time.