Organization of Pipestone Pipe Technology at Great Bend Aspect Sites in Kansas
Hadley, Alison Marie
University of Kansas
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This research is the study of the organization of pipestone technology at Great Bend Aspect (GBA, AD 1450-1700) sites in south-central Kansas. The goal was to determine the broader social and economic context of pipestone technology within this protohistoric society. Experiments were conducted in order to aid in the identification of pipestone use-wear and residue on chipped stone tools. Tools from four GBA sites were microscopically analyzed to identify pipestone use-wear and residue. Pipestone was analyzed and sourced using a portable infrared spectrometer at 22 GBA sites in Kansas and two protohistoric Wichita sites in Oklahoma. The archaeological evidence indicates that pipes were the main use of pipestone at GBA sites. Pipestone pipes were prestige and ritual artifacts that were used in early protohistoric versions of the calumet ceremony. Pipes were minimally used before they were broken and made into pendants, beads, or figurines. Part-time craft specialists likely made the pipes. Pipe production was restricted to a small number of sites in Marion and McPherson Counties. Finished pipes were traded to other GBA sites and with contemporaneous neighbors. Pipe recycling was an activity conducted at the household level and was not specialized. Pipes were recycled into beads, pendants, or figurines possibly to commemorate the ceremonies in which they were used. The remaining pipestone scraps were discarded. At GBA sites in Cowley County, Kansas, pipestone was often discarded with other prestige artifacts such as turquoise, mussel shell, modified shell, bone, and other beads. The organization of pipestone technology was relatively stable for the entire period of GBA occupation in south-central Kansas. Major changes in pipestone technology occurred when the occupants of GBA sites moved south into what is today Oklahoma. A shift in pipestone procurement strategies was identified at protohistoric sites in Oklahoma. Pipestone technology changed along with increased trade with Europeans, increased hostilities from surrounding tribes, and a more circumscribed settlement pattern. This evidence may reflect major economic and social changes occurring at the protohistoric Wichita sites at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
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