Working with Wilmsen: Paleoindian End Scraper Design and Use at Nobles Pond

Publication Title

American Antiquity

Publication Date


Document Type



paleoindians, microwear analysis, anthropology


Anthropology | Archaeological Anthropology


This study is an investigation of tool design and the organization of work. Here we further test Wilmsen’s (1970) conclu-sion that early Paleoindian tools—specifically, hafted end scrapers—were redesigned to facilitate the processing of abroader range of resources as colonizing populations moved into the forested environments of eastern North America fromthe west. We use a large sample from the Nobles Pond site, morphometic variables, and high-powered microwear to eval-uate the effects of design and reduction as they bear on this generalization. Results do not support Wilmsen’s model, and,more generally, we conclude that an understanding of form and function in reductive technologies comes not only from anappreciation of the planned, stage-like change that is inherent in the design of reliable tools, but also from a considerationof the many contingencies and particular work situations that arise in the lives of mobile foragers.