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Old Times, New Research: Examining Lithic Artifacts


Mariah Walzer ’17, an archaeology major, spent this summer analyzing the lithic artifacts recovered from 2015 field school at the Slocan Narrows Pithouse Village in British Columbia. The research is supervised by Associate Professor of Anthropology Nathan Goodale.

Last summer five Hamilton students spent six weeks in Slocan Valley, British Columbia, as participants in Hamilton’s archaeology field school, Slocan Narrows Archaeological Project (SNAP), led by Goodale. The group recovered faunal remains and lithic artifacts, stone tools and pieces of stone leftover from making tools, and took soil samples during excavation.

about Mariah Walzer ’17

Majors: Archaeology and Literature and Creative Writing

Hometown: Hesperia, Mich.

High School: Culver Academies

see more student research stories

For her project, Walzer summarized the artifacts and soil layers, and did a comparative study between of groups of lithic artifacts from various house pits at the site. She especially looked at raw material type, size and completeness of the artifacts. “Personally, I find lithics most interesting out of those three categories, because lithic analysis indicates what kind of stone tools are being made and used at the site,” she said.

Walzer is planning to build upon this research to create a complete lithic technology analysis of the artifacts recovered so far at SNAP for her senior thesis. This will involve exploring further into what type of technology was present at the site, what kinds of tool use and manufacture were used , and where the raw materials came from.

In discussing this overall experience, Walzer thinks that the flexible schedule and the increased mentorship from Goodale has been a rewarding experience. On the other hand, she added: “staring at tiny pieces of rock all day is hard on the eyes.”

After Hamilton, Walzer is planning to go to graduate school for archaeology. “While my focus probably won't be on the lithic technology of Pacific Northwest Native American tribes,” she said, “the skills gained in this summer's research will hopefully help make me a competitive candidate and a better researcher.”

Since the field school last year, Walzer has been blogging her archaeology-related experiences. It is a helpful resource for more detailed explanations of her work and updates for interested readers.

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