Museum Of Anthropology

Granite Point (45WT41)

Ongoing Research & Research Contributions

 

Lower Snake River Region Culture History

(Leonhardy and Rice 1970)

In 1959, Richard Daugherty proposed the first chronological model for the cultural prehistory of the Lower Snake River Region. Over the following 10 years, accumulations of archaeological data allowed for a better understanding of the region’s cultural history and led Frank C. Leonhardy and David G. Rice to publish the revised cultural chronology, titled “Proposed Culture Typology for the Lower Snake River Region, Southeastern Washington”, that remains in use today. Examining artifact configurations and site-specific components, Leonhardy and Rice assembled cultural phases spanning the entire Lower Snake River Region. These cultural phases delineated the region's cultural continuum into six distinct segments of culture time: Windust Phase (10,000-7,000 B.C.), Cascade Phase (~6,000-3,000 B.C.), Tucannon Phase (~3,000-500 B.C.), Harder Phase (500 B.C.-1300 A.D.), Piqúnin Phase (~1300-1700 A.D.), and Numípu Phase dated to ethnographic times. Generalized information regarding influential sites, technologies and economics associated with each cultural phase is summarized below.

Key Terms (Leonhardy 1970; Leonhardy and Rice 1970)
Component A site-specific configuration of artifacts and other archaeological phenomena that is distinct from all other artifact configurations within the site. The basic archaeological unit.
Phase A synchronic stylistic macrostructure which articulates a polythetic set of similar components found within the region. Abstract units that relate components to one another.
Stationary State A segment of a cultural continuum in which the variations within a segment are less than the variations between segments.

 

Six Proposed Cultural Phases of the Lower Snake River Region
Age Culture Phase Sites Technology Economics
Ethnographic Numípu Phase No historic habitation sites have been excavated and this phase cannot be characterized yet. Expect trade goods to be dominant artifacts.
1300 A.D.* - 1700 A.D.* Piqúnin Phase

Wexpúsnime

  • Small projectile points, corner-notched and base-notched forms
  • Few small end scrapers
  • Lanceolate and pentagonal knives
  • Small flakes are abundant
  • Cobble implements; pounding stones, utilized spalls, decorated pestles, hopper mortar stones, sinkers
  • Bone implements; awls, matting needles, composite harpoon elements
  • Twined basketry
  • Elk
  • Deer
  • Salmon
At time of publication neither bison, pronghorn antelope, nor mountain sheep had been identified
1300 A.D.* - 500 B.C. Harder Phase Late

Harder Site

45GA17

Three Springs Bar

Tucannon Site

Granite Point

Wawawai

Two subphases primarily distinguished by settlement types: Camps in Early subphase and sustantial pit-house villages in Late subphase
  • Late subphase characterized by small finely made corner-notched and basal-notched projectile point forms associated with the Snake River Corner-Notched type
  • Early subphase characterized by large, basal-notched projectile points and corner-notched projectile points called "Snake River Corner-Notched"
  • Bison [Bison bison]
  • Mountain sheep
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Pronghorn antelope
  • Smaller mammals [including dog]
  • Fish [salmonoids included, economically important]
Early Common to both subphases:
  • Small end scrapers [some distinctive shouldered forms]
  • Lanceolate and pentagonal knives
  • Cobble implements; scraper-like implements, utilized spalls, pestles, hopper mortar bases, sinkers
  • Bone implements; awls, needles, circular and pendant beads, perforated elk teeth, incised gaming pieces

500 B.C. - 3,000 B.C.*

Tucannon Phase

Tucannon site

Marmes Rockshelter

Granite Point

Not a well-developed lithic technology with "poorly executed forms on poorly produced flakes" (11)
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Pronghorn antelope
  • Mountain sheep
  • Smaller mammals
  • Fish [salmonoids prominent]
  • River mussel [economically important]
Two prominent projectile point types:
  • Low side or corner notched to produce an expanding stem and short barbs
  • Short bladed and shouldered with a contracting stem
  • Small side and end scrapers
  • Scraper-like cobble implements and utilized cobble spalls
  • Pounding stones, sinkers, hopper mortar bases and pestles
  • Bone and antler implements (including a bone shuttle)
  • Almost no well-formed knives
  • Less variety and abundance of utilized flakes
  • Primarily basalt

3,000 B.C.*- 6,000 B.C*

Cascade Phase Late

Windust Caves

Marmes Rockshelter

Granite Point

Thorn Thicket

  • Hallmark artifacts: lanceolate Cascade projectile point and edge-ground cobble
  • Horizon Marker between the Early and Late: Cold Springs side-notched projectile point
  • Remaining artifact inventories are nearly identical between the subphases
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Pronghorn antelope triad
  • Rabbit
  • Beaver
  • River mussels
  • Fish [including salmonoids]
  • Possibly bison
Early
  • Large, well-made lanceolate and triangular knives
  • Tabular and keeled end scrapers
  • Numerous large, varied, utilized flakes
  • Atlatl weights are rare
  • Cobble and bone implements
  • Olivella beads
  • Lithic technology adapted for fine-textured basalt
6,000 B.C. - 7,000 B.C. ?

Uncertain due to little archaeological material recovered. Believed to not be part of Cascade Phase.

7,000 B.C. - 10,000 B.C. Windust

Windust Caves

Marmes Rockshelter

Granite Point

Well developed lithic technology with techniques to produce large tabular flakes and primatic blades.
  • Elk [variety considerably larger than the modern elk]
  • Deer
  • Rabbits
  • Pronghorn antelope
  • Rabbit
  • Beaver
  • River mussel
  • Short, shouldered, stemmed projectile points
  • Large lanceolate knives
    Utilized flakes (varied)
  • Cobble Tools
  • Few lanceolate points, end scrapers, burins and bone artifacts
  • Primarily cryptocrystalline silicates with low quantities of fine-textured basalt
* Estimated or approximate date.
Please see Leonhardy and Rice for additional description of individual phases

 

The long occupational history at Granite Point made it instrumental in the construction of a cultural chronology for the region.
Comparison of Granite Point Cultural Sequence and Regional Phases  
(Leonhardy 1970; Leonhardy and Rice 1970)  

 

Obsidian Sourcing

(Skinner and Davis 1998)

In 1998 nine obsidian artifacts from Granite Point were submitted to the Northwest Research Obsidian Studies Laboratory for energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence trace element provenience analysis, commonly referred to as obsidian sourcing. While volcanic glasses, such as obsidian, are 'homogeneous' in their trace element composition, the quantities of these trace elements vary enough from source to source that it is often possible to match the chemical makeup of an obsidian artifact to that of a specific source. The Northwest Research Obsidian Studies Laboratory, is able to conduct nondestructive analysis through the use of a Spectrace 5000 energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, and linear regressions. Concentration values of zinc, lead, thorium, rubidium, strontium, yttrium, zirconium, niobium, titanium, manganese, and iron are calculated. The trace element values of the samples are then compared to values of known obsidian sources. Obsidian is correlated to a source if the diagnostic elements fall within two standard deviations of the known chemical variability recorded at the source. The nine obsidian samples from Granite Point were correlated with two obsidian sources; Timber Butte, Idaho and Indian Creek, Oregon. Five samples were correlated with Timber Butte; an obsidian source located approximately 30 miles north of Boise that is well-documented in archaeological sites located in western Idaho and northeastern Oregon. Three samples were correlated with Indian Creek; one of three chemical source types associated with the Dooley Mountain rhyolite complex located in northeast Oregon that is well-documented in archaeological sites throughout northeast and northcentral Oregon. One sample was identified as tachylyte, a basaltic volcanic glass, of unknown origin. 

Map of Identified Obsidian Sources of Granite Point Samples (Skinner and Davis 1998:5)

 

Areas for Future Study

Granite Point research has primarily centered on building and understanding the local and regional cultural sequence, with concentrated study on sediment stratigraphy and artifact assemblages. This narrow scope has left many aspects of Granite Point’s history unstudied.

Some potential areas of study include:
  • Population demographics
  • Environmental reconstructions [through faunal, pollen and phytolith analysis]
  • Resource utilization, diet and procurement strategies
  • Defining site type and use changes over time
  • Shellfish processing techniques

If you are interested in researching Granite Point, please review the Archaeological Collections Database for a comprehensive catalog of content available for study.

 

Additional Sources Involving Granite Point Research

Bense, Judith Ann
  1972 The Cascade Phase: A Study in the Effect of the Alithermal on a Cultural System. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman.
Rice, David G.
  1972 The Windust Phase in Lower Snake River Region Prehistory. Report of Investigations No. 50. Laboratory of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman.
Schroedl, Gerald F.
  1973 The Archaeological Occurrence of Bison in the Southern Plateau. Washington State University Laboratory of Anthropology Report of Investigations No.51.
Galm, Jerry R.
  1975 Neutron Activation Analysis and the Obsidian Trade in Lower Snake River Region Prehistory. Master's Thesis, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman.
Hammatt, Hallett H.
  1976 Late Quarternary Stratigraphy and Archaeological Chronology in the Lower Granite Reservoir, Lower Snake River, Washington. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman.
Harder, David A.
  1998 A Synthetic Overview of the Tucannon Phase in the Lower Snake River Region of Washington and Idaho. Master's Thesis, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman.

 

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