Lithic Materials

This site is proposed as a reference to characterize the known lithic materials of Mississippi. In archaeology, lithics are stone artifacts that have been purposefully modified, or worked, by human hands. In this science, where anthropological theory of pre-historic cultures is pondered and debated largely on the examination of worked stone objects, an understanding of the presence and source of naturally occurring stones or native materials throughout the local geology is an important piece of information when investigating pre-historic sites. Understanding the source of these native materials provides the archaeologist insight into the relationship of past cultures with their available geological resources and how that relationship may have evolved over time. In addition to this site, the Surface Geology staff has published a map of the sources of lithic materials: Fact Sheet 3: Mississippi’s Native Lithic Material Sources Map. Discussions of anthropology are avoided except where absolutely necessary. Thus, it is important for the reader to understand this site does not indicate occurrences of lithic materials, only the sources of lithic materials that may occur anywhere in the state. Some of these materials may have been traded in from sources outside of Mississippi such as Arkansas Novaculite. It is the task of the archaeologist to identify the source of the lithic materials found on any site. Click the links below to see more information and photograph of a particular lithic material. Click on the photographs to view them in high resolution.

Authors: Starnes, J., Segrest, B., and Leard, J.
Published: May 2019
Updated: July 2021