Quijos Settlement Dataset
Andrea M. Cuéllar

Archaeology Database
University of Pittsburgh
Email: cadb@pitt.edu

The Quijos Valley Chipped Stone Assemblage by Charles L. F. Knight

The nature of chipped stone assemblages in the Eastern Piedmont of the northern Ecuadorian Andes is poorly understood, as little systematic work in the area has been conducted. Archaeological information on the lithic industry of the area, including the Quijos Valley archaeological survey zone, is limited to brief descriptions in several contract archaeological reports associated with oil pipeline construction in the early 21st century and a hand-full of sites investigated by Father Pedro Porras in the 1960s (Porras 1975). Elsewhere in Ecuador, such as within the Cordillera Occidental, the Inter-Andean Depression and the coastal region, there exists a growing body of data on chipped stone artifacts and the materials used to make them (Salazar 1992). From those studies we know that core-blade, flake-core, bipolar and expedient lithic reduction technologies were in use, changing through time and across space (Burger et al. 1994; Meggers 1966; Mayer-Oakes 1986; Salazar 1992). Often the lithic tools and debris recovered in those areas were made from obsidian, a natural volcanic glass whose fine cryptocrystalline structure is well suited for the production of sharp cutting edges. Based on the unique chemical make-up of minor elements within individual obsidian flows, artifacts made from this material can be chemically traced to their source. In Ecuador, trace element analysis of obsidian artifacts from a number of sites has linked them to important obsidian sources in the Cordillera Real, including the Yanaurco-Quiscatola deposit complex and the Mullumica Valley east of Quito (Asaro et al. 1994; Bellot-Gourlet et al. 2008; Salazar 1992; Zeidler et al. 1994).

The Quijos Valley Project lithic assemblage is comprised of informal expedient and bipolar reduction technologies made almost entirely of obsidian. Formal chipped stone tools, such as those produced during core-blade or flake-core technologies were not recovered anywhere in the survey zone. A similar pattern of informal tool technology was found by Pedro Porras (1975), as well as during contract (rescate) archaeological surveys in the region (Delgado 2002). A secondary obsidian source was identified south of the southern limits of the survey zone. Based on visual characteristics, it appears that much of the obsidian used within the Quijos Valley survey zone derives from this source.

The following sections describe in detail the procedures and methodology employed for lithic classification and analysis:

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