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Glossary terms for Alberta Archaeology

atlatl a hooked stick that is used to throw a dart. The atlatl acted as an extension of the forearm, allowing the dart to be thrown much faster than by hand alone. The flexible shaft and atlatl weights helped bend the shaft during throwing which added an elastic element to the propulsion.


basally thinned This is another term applied to fluting. The projectile point has flakes removed from both sides near the base. This makes the base thinner.

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Berengia Between about 20,000 and 14,000 years ago, massive continental ice caps lowered sea levels to such an extent that large areas of the Chukchi and Bering seafloors were exposed as vast low-lying plains connecting Asia and North America forming a land bridge that extended from Alaska to the eastern tip of Siberia.. This dry arctic steppe biome supported a rich fauna including mammoth, bison, camel, horse, and caribou.


chalcedony see lithic materials

chert see lithic materials

flint, Knife River see lithic materials

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flute an elongated flake scar running along the center of a projectile point. Paleoindian points such as Clovis and Folsom had this characteristic flake pattern.



hafting the method used to attach projectile points to their wooden shafts. Animal sinew was a common material



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Knife River flint see lithic materials

lanceolate A lanceolate projectile point is long and lance-like. It is a term applied to many of the long, thin spear points from the early period in Alberta.
lithic materials stone types used to make projectile points
siltstone- A very fine-grained sandstone, mainly consolidated silt.
- a metamorphic rock consisting mainly of quartz (a mineral form of silica that crystallizes as hexagonal prisms
chert - a flintlike form of quartz composed of chalcedony
- a type of quartz occuring in several different forms, eg. onyx, agate, tiger's eye, etc.
Knife River flint
- a type of chert found mainly in North Dakota
obsidian - A type of volcanic glass

Mazama Ash a large volcanic eruption in the northwestern United States deposited volcanic ash over much of western Canada. Dating techniques have placed the ash at 6800 years ago. This thin layer of ash allows archaeologists to date sites relative to the date of the eruption.

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megafauna A group of mammals which were usually very large. They include the mammoth, mastodon, and giant bison. Most of these animals became extinct at the end of the last ice age.

notching see point characteristics

obsidian see lithic materials

point characteristics

point characteristics

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quartzite see lithic materials

refugium Refugia were areas free of ice during glacial periods. Larger refugia during the last glaciation included Beringia and those parts of North America south of the ice along with sections of the ice-free corridor east of the Rocky Mountains. There were also smaller refugia, often only a few square kilometres, called nunatuks. Nunatuks were heights of land protruding through the glaciers. In Alberta, nunatuk refugia included Mountain Park, Castleguard Cave, and Plateau Mountain along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains along with the Cypress Hills in southeastern Alberta. Plants and animals survived in these "refuges" and recolonized northern North America as deglaciation proceeded.

siltstone see lithic materials

stem see point characteristics

tipi a large dwelling used by the ancient people of Alberta. It was made up of a bison hide cover stretched over a framework of poles.

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