School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

The Morrosquillo Assemblage Revealed: Provenance and Context of a Refined Group of Ground-edge Stone Tools from the Caribbean Lowlands of Colombia

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Polished ground-edge stone tools exhibiting a wide range of shapes, sizes, and lithologies as well as aesthetic sophistication and exceptional quality occur in large numbers throughout the Caribbean lowlands of Colombia and beyond. The wealth of polished tools suggests an advanced and large-scale lithic industry. This paper provides context for a collection of over 300 tools collected as surface finds in an area centered on the Gulf of Morrosquillo on the central lowlands, and it is thus dubbed the Morrosquillo assemblage. Using a combination of geologic and archaeological evidence, these tools are traced to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the enclave of the Taironas for 1000 years, where the abundance of high-quality raw materials enabled the development of an impressive lithic industry. Thorough examination of the stone tools revealed that they were mostly utilitarian objects used in a variety of tasks; however, the large numbers of polished tools suggest that the tool makers were as concerned with aesthetic appearance as with utilitarian purposes, and some of the tools were apparently symbols of status. The presence of tools that appear to have been deliberately broken suggest that they probably were used in rituals or offering ceremonies.


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Lithic Technology