The function of Early Natufian grooved basalt artefacts from el-Wad Terrace, Mount Carmel, Israel: Preliminary results of a use-wear analysis

  • Iris Groman-Yaroslavski University of Haifa
  • Danny Rosenberg University of Haifa
  • Reuven Yeshurun University of Haifa
  • Daniel Kaufman University of Haifa
  • Mina Weinstein-Evron University of Haifa
Keywords: shaft straighteners, el-Wad Terrace, Natufian, use-wear analysis, multi-functional tools, ground stone tools



Grooved items are usually regarded as tools used for modifying other implements made of bone, stone, plants or wood, whether referred to as shaft straighteners, smoothers, polishers or sharpening tools. They were also attributed to various symbolic meanings in Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites in the southern Levant and they were also associated with bead manufacturing process in the Neolithic. Grooved basalts found on Early Natufian (ca. 14,000 BP) living floors at el-Wad Terrace, Mount Carmel, Israel, were the subject of microscopic use-wear analysis. Here we present the preliminary results of the research, introducing our functional reconstruction based on experiments. The most outstanding result is that traces on the perimeters, attributed to shaping of the artefact, are different from the traces inside the groove which are related to the use of the artefact. We conclude that the groove is a part of the instrument, shaped before its use in order to work the abraded materials. Traces indicate that the shaping of the perimeters was done by abrasion against a very hard rock, probably using water to enhance the smoothing of the stone. Traces inside the groove indicate, as was previously assumed for these artefacts, that the groove was used as a shaft straightener. However, traces also indicate that the groove was used to abrade different types of materials which might not be related to the preparation of shafts including reeds, wood, and especially minerals such as ochre. Our preliminary results indicate the multi-functional nature of these items shedding light on their production, use and discard history.

Author Biographies

Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, University of Haifa
The Use-Wear Analysis Laboratory
The Zinman Institute of Archaeology
University of Haifa
Danny Rosenberg, University of Haifa
Laboratory for Ground Stone Tools Research
The Zinman Institute of Archaeology
University of Haifa
Reuven Yeshurun, University of Haifa
The Zinman Institute of Archaeology
University of Haifa
Daniel Kaufman, University of Haifa
The Zinman Institute of Archaeology
University of Haifa
Mina Weinstein-Evron, University of Haifa
The Zinman Institute of Archaeology
University of Haifa


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How to Cite
Groman-Yaroslavski, I., Rosenberg, D., Yeshurun, R., Kaufman, D., & Weinstein-Evron, M. (2016). The function of Early Natufian grooved basalt artefacts from el-Wad Terrace, Mount Carmel, Israel: Preliminary results of a use-wear analysis. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 221-242.
Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research