An experimental approach to ground stone tool manufacture

  • Andrea Squitieri Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • David Eitam Independent researcher
Keywords: ground stone tools, technology of production, experimental archaeology, mortar

Abstract


The manufacture of ground stone tools has long been a topic of interest for archaeologists. Ground stone tools made of specific stone types (e.g., limestone, basalt, granite) have been investigated with regards to the technology chosen by craftsmen, the manufacturing process, working tools and tool mark analysis. Here, we present the results of an experimental study of the manufacture of a basalt mortar. In particular, the strategy we adopted in designing this study was to present a method for producing a basalt mortar by pecking and abrading with basalt tools. The study was designed and conducted by A. Squitieri and D. Eitam, while the mortar was made by the sculptor D. Yassur. The goals of our experiment were to observe and document the choices made by the sculptor in creating the mortar, starting from the selection of a basalt cobblestone as the raw material, the tools (made from basalt) he used and the ways he used them. We detected practical problems the sculptor had to overcome during the process, the amount of debitage, and the nature of tool marks in the mortar cavity after the manufacturing process. We documented the entirety of the experiment through photographs and videos. Our experimental production using the expertise of a professional sculpture and his thorough knowledge of basalt offers a better understanding of basalt artefact manufacture, the physical properties of the raw material and the interaction between basalt tools and basalt raw material.

Author Biography

Andrea Squitieri, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Germany

References

Adams, J. L. 2001, Ground Stone Analysis: A Technological Approach. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 336 p.
Aschmann, H. 1949, A metate maker of Baja, California. American Anthropologist, New Series, 51 (4): 682-686. doi:10.1525/aa.1949.51.4.02a00350
Bryan, B. 1961, The manufacture of a stone mortar. The Masterkey, 4: 134-139.
Buonasera, T. Y. 2015, Modeling the costs and benefits of manufacturing expedient milling tools. Journal of Archaeological Science, 57: 335-344. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2015.03.018
Cerutti, R. A. 1986, Basalt stone-knapping experiments. In: The Archaeology of the Picacho Basin, Southeast California, (Pendleton, L., Ed.), Wirth Environmental Services, San Diego: p. 167-172.
Cook, S. 1973, Stone tools for Steel-Age Mexican? Aspects of production in Zapotec stoneworking industry. American Anthropologist, New Series, 75(5): 1485-1503. doi:10.1525/aa.1973.75.5.02a00180
Ebeling, J., & Rosenberg, D. 2016, A basalt vessel workshop at Iron Age Hazor – Its context, products and implications. Journal of Field Archaeology, 40(6): 665-674. doi:10.1080/00934690.2015.1101941
Ebeling, J. R., & Rowan, Y. M. 2004, The archaeology of the daily grind: ground stone tools and food production in the Southern Levant. Near Eastern Archaeology, 67(2): 108-117. doi:10.2307/4132366
Eitam, D. 2009, Late Epipaleolithic rock-cut installations and ground stone tools in the Southern Levant: methodology and typology. Paléorient, 35(1): 77-104. doi:10.3406/paleo.2009.5279
Eitam D., Kislev, M., Karty, A., & Bar-Yosef, O. 2015, Experimental barley flour production in 12,500-year-old rock-cut mortars in Southwestern Asia. PLoS ONE, 10(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133306
Forrest, C. 2008, The nature of scientific experimentation in Archaeology: experimental Archaeology from the Nineteenth to the mid Twentieth Century. In: Experiencing Archaeology by Experiment. Proceedings of the Experimental Archaeology Conference, Exeter 2007, (Cunningham, P., Heeb, J., Paardekooper, R., Eds.) Oxbow Books, Oxford: p. 61-68.
Gluhak, T., Rosenberg, D., & Ebeling, J. 2016, Raw material variability as archaeological tools: Preliminary results from a geochemical study of the basalt vessel workshop at Iron Age Tel Hazor, Israel. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3): 21 p. doi:10.2218/jls.v3i3.1677
Hayden, B. 1987, Lithic Studies Among the Contemporary Highland Maya. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 387 p.
Huckell, B. B. 1986, A Ground Stone Implement Quarry on the Lower Colorado River, Northwestern Arizona. Cultural Resource Series Monograph Vol. 3, State office of the Bureau of Land Management, Phoenix, 61 p. URL: http://www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/wo/Planning_and_Renewable_Resources/coop_agencies/new_documents/az.Par.70562.File.tmp/Arizona_3.pdf
Lemonnier, P. 1992, Elements for an Anthropology of Technology. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 129 p.
Levanthal, A., & Seltz, G. 1989, Experimental archaeology mortar replication study: description and analysis. In: Results of the General Development Plan Archaeological Test Excavation Conducted at Ca-Mnt-185/H, Garrapata State Park, (Motz, L., Abbink, E., Hines, P., Hylkema, M.G., Kimbo, E., Leventhal, A.M., Schwaderer, R., Seitz, G., & Swiden, C., Eds.), California Department of Parks and Recreation, Sacramento: p. 142-150.
Malina, J. 1983, Archaeology and experiment. Norwegian Archaeological Review, 16(2): 69-78. doi: 10.1080/00293652.1983.9965385
Rosenberg, D., & Garfinkel, Y. 2015, Sha’ar Hagolan 4. The Ground-Stone Industry: Stone Working at the Dawn of Pottery Production in the Southern Levant. Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem, 336 p.
Roux, V. 2010, Lecture anthropologique des ensembles céramiques. Les Nouvelles de l’Archéologie, 119: 4-9. doi:10.4000/nda.957
Schneider, J. S. 1993, Aboriginal Milling-Implement Quarries in Eastern California and Western Arizona: a Behavioral Perspective. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, the University of California, Riverside, 309 p.
Schneider, J. S. 1996, Quarrying and production of milling implements at Antelope Hill, Arizona. Journal of Field Archaeology, 23 (3): 299-311. doi:10.2307/530484
Schneider, J. S., & Osborne, R. H. 1996. A model for the production of portable stone mortars and bowls. Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly, 32(4): 27-40.
Speth, J. D. 1972, Mechanical basis of percussion flaking. American Antiquity, 37(1): 36-60. doi:10.2307/278884
Treganza, A. E., & Valdivia, L. L. 1955, The manufacture of pecked and ground stone artifacts: a controlled study. Reports of the University of California Archaeological Survey, 32: 19-29.
Wright, K. 1992, A classification system for ground stone tools from the prehistoric Levant. Paléorient, 18 (2): 53-81. doi:10.3406/paleo.1992.4573
Published
31-Oct-2016
How to Cite
Squitieri, A., & Eitam, D. (2016). An experimental approach to ground stone tool manufacture. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 553-564. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.v3i3.1681
Section
Papers Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research