Thesis (M.A., Anthropology) -- University of Idaho, 2015 | During prehistoric times quartz crystal was a valuable material for making tools and is found in Idaho's archaeological record. It is not uncommon to find lithic tools manufactured from quartz in prehistoric archaeological collections, but they remain scarce in quantity. Due to the limited number of artifacts made from quartz, these tools have not received much archaeological analysis. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the use of quartz crystal tools that have been recorded in archaeological sites in North Central Idaho.
Quartz crystal is different than other raw lithic materials used by ancient peoples and a better understanding of the material, and why it may have been chosen by ancient peoples is necessary to help establish a more complete picture of the past. Sites from the Clearwater River Basin in North Central Idaho were selected to establish a regional picture of the distribution and frequency for quartz crystal. The region's rich quartz-bearing geology along with archaeological sites containing artifacts made from quartz crystal and unaltered crystals make this area appropriate for this analysis and research.
The following analysis is three fold. First this thesis is an overview of the geological, physical properties, chemical properties and possibility of sourcing of quartz crystal. Applying geological knowledge to quartz crystal found in the archaeological record should help future archaeologist understand its presence in site formations. Second, due to the geological formations of the Clearwater River Basin, large quartz crystal deposits exist through the region and therefore an evaluation of quartz crystals in 10 sites in the Clearwater River drainage will show frequency and tool type. Third, I will perform experimentation with quartz crystal to produce usable tools along with a use-wear analysis of those tools. This study should enable future archaeologists the ability to analyze quartz crystal tools for prehistoric use.