Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Applied Archaeology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Jew, Nicholas P.


The San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands, California holds the Pinto Basin archaeological collection. The Pinto Basin assemblage is a legacy collection for the Pinto point and related point types in the Mojave. The collection contains many artifacts including projectile points, drills, knives, manos, pestles, metates, hammerstones, and scrapers originally collected from the Mojave Desert during the late 1920’s. This thesis research investigates the morphological characteristics of a sub-sample of chipped stone lithics by examining and comparing the metric elements of chipped stone lithics in relation to previously reported projectile point types. Lithics originate from the southern extent of Joshua Tree National Park. The collection comes from a variety of Holocene-era deposits.

The sub-sample includes bifaces, unifaces, expedient tools, and diagnostic projectile points. Bifaces include more formal technologies like the Pinto Complex, Gypsum Complex, and Late Prehistoric Complex. The sub-sample identifies numerous points not recognized under projectile point types. I classified such points as bifaces or unifaces. The collection is comprised of 282 chipped stone artifacts. The morphological analysis included artifact and material classification of each chipped stone artifact. Material classification showed Pinto Basin inhabitants held a predisposition towards quartz. Quartz was a preferred material to craft Pinto points. Expedient tools dominated the assemblage and displayed evidence of use-wear along margins. Expedient tools outnumbered diagnostic points which suggests inhabitants of the Pinto Basin preferred expedient tools for routine tasks such as cutting and scraping. The assemblage included diagnostic points from cultural complexes dated to the Early Holocene (Lake Mojave Complex), Middle Holocene (Pinto Complex, Gypsum Complex), and Late Holocene (Rose Spring Complex, Late Prehistoric Complex).

This analysis of the Pinto Basin collection demonstrates that ancient inhabitants of the Joshua Tree National Park area adjusted to changing environmental conditions. In particular, the Holocene epoch saw sporadic and unreliable precipitation rates in comparison to the relative stability of the preceding Pleistocene epoch. My analysis of the artifacts in this collection included recording the length, width, thickness, and weight for each artifact for comparative purposes. I also explored the resulting quantitative data using descriptive and comparative statistics, determining that clear patterns exist in the selection of certain raw materials in the Pinto Basin, especially quartz. My conclusions highlight the decisions made by past peoples as they adapted to a changing Mojave environment.