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This dissertation examines morphological variability (differences in qualitative attributes and metric dimensions) that is observed when comparing assemblages of projectile points. My archaeological case study is an evaluation of cultural historical types' of projectile points that have been assigned variously to the Alberta, Cody, or Firstview Complexes of the early Holocene from approximately 10,000 B.P. to 8,200 B.P. This analysis includes both quantitative and qualitative observations of 361 complete and fragmentary projectile points from 13 archaeological sites located in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. My analyses showed that qualitative attributes and metric dimensions of projectile points vary more through time than through space. Since projectile point styles were used for hundreds of years and were distributed over a wide geographic area, culture change occurred slowly in the Paleoindian period. This is known as conservative cultural transmission. I proposed that conservative cultural transmission confers social benefits on small, highly mobile, hunter-gatherers because it facilitated interaction among individuals and bands that manufactured Cody Complex projectile points. The subsistence and social advantages of interactions among Paleoindian bands likely included finding exogamous mates, cooperation in communal bison hunting, and conducting ritual activities. This model is supported because projectile points that previous researchers assigned to the Cody or Firstview Complexes cannot be differentiated by their qualitative and quantitative attributes. Therefore, conservative cultural transmission indicates that these bands were in contact.'


Paleoindian Cody Complex, projectile point typology, cultural transmission

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Degree Name


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Department Name

UNM Department of Anthropology

First Advisor

Huckell, Bruce

First Committee Member (Chair)

Straus, Lawrence

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Anthropology Commons