ATH 242-01

Analyzing the past: Stone Tools/Lithic Technology

  • Type 1: Ground Stone
    • made by pecking, grinding, polishing
    • axes, pestles, gorgets
  • Type 2: Chipped stone
    • fracturing stone through percussion or pressure flaking
    • only possible with certain types of stone
      • chert/flint, obsidian, quartz, jasper
      • not all rocks are usable
      • vitreous (glass-like) rocks are best
      • vitreous materials fracture consistently and predictably
      • conchoidal fracture: force flows like ripples on a pond
      • obsidian is best because it fractures to the last molecule
    • core: the stone being struck (source stone)
    • flake: the fragment/tool being removed
    • debitage: debris/waste from making chipped-stone tools

percussion flaking methods

  • direct percussion: strking the core with a hammer stone or striking core against an avil
  • indirect percussion: something placed between the hammer stone and core (a punch/chisel made from bone, wood or antler)

core tools

  • large tools, such as hand-axes or hoes are made from flint cores

flake tools

  • artifacts are more often made from flakes than from core, like projectile points
  • pressure flaking: generally used to refine tools and make them stronger
  • bladelets, probably used as knives or other cutting tools
  • scrapers
  • drills
  • burins or gravers

Raw material sourcing

  • unaided visual
  • microscopic visual examination
  • x-ray fluorescence and neutron activation analysis

Determining Function

  • microwear analysis: examine wear patterns under microscope
  • blood residue analysis
  • silica residue analysis

Absolute dating and stone tools

  • obsidian hydration: a dating method that estimates how long ago an obsidian tool was made

*** VIDEO: flint knapping

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