Understanding provenance of raw materials in the Middle Pleistocene area of Calerizo de Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain: Spatial analysis and characterization of Santa Ana assemblage
Akinbowale Mark Akintayo, Antoni Canals Salomo
This work presents a study of the provenance of quartzitic lithic materials from the cave of Santa Ana in Calerizo de Cáceres. Calerizo de Cáceres is a karstic system confined between quartzitic hills with abundant lithic materials and availability of surface and groundwater resources. Macroscopic or visual characterization of archaeological samples, as well as the geological sources was employed to determine the provenance of materials. Through comparison of results from characterization of archaeological materials using the results from those of the geological sources as references for source provisioning. Spatial analysis of location data collected during prospecting of the landscape as well as Digital Elevation Model of the area were used to analyze the movement pattern on the landscape from the site (Santa Ana Cave) to geological deposits of raw materials present within the studied landscape using Least-Cost Path (LCP) analysis in GIS. The results showed that both primary and secondary sources were exploited by prehistoric groups for raw materials procurement and the maximum distance travelled to acquire these materials do not extend beyond 15 km. A cluster of these sources were found to be located at distance of about 1.5 km from the Santa Ana Cave. Alluvial deposits were also exploited as fragments of rocks transported downslope from the quartzitic hills which surround the Calerizo de Cáceres.
Immersed in Lithics
Issue dedicated to the conference "Immersed in Lithics", 25th-26th February, 2016, Manchester, U.K.
Guest edited by: Elizabeth Healey
The mechanical properties of wood and the design of Neolithic stone axes
A. Roland Ennos, João A.V. Oliveira
Despite the importance of wooden tools for early man, and the development of woodworking in the Mesolithic and Neolithic culture, there has been surprisingly little research on how wood can be worked by stone tools or how wooden handles for composite tools were designed. This paper outlines an approach based on an understanding of the structure and mechanical properties of wood. The cell arrangement in wood makes it far less stiff, strong and tough across the grain, especially tangentially. This makes it hard to harvest wood or break it into lengths because it splits down its centre rather than breaking right across. Fortunately, this also makes wood easy to split along the grain, especially radially through its centre into sections and planks.
A model of the splitting process predicted that wood is best split using blunt, broad but smooth wedges, as these would use less energy and would be less likely to get stuck in the wood. The predictions were verified in tests in which hazel coppice poles were split using wedges of contrasting angle, width and surface texture. The results help explain the change from the flaked flint Mesolithic tranchet axes to the broader polished stone Neolithic axe and adze heads. However, further experiments are also needed cutting wood obliquely to test this hypothesis.
The splitting model also helps to understand the design of socketed axe hafts. Failure usually occurs when the handles split at the distal and proximal ends of the socket. To prevent this, handles are best designed with the growth rings parallel to the socket, and with an expanded head, especially with flanges on the distal and proximal ends of the socket. These designs are seen in some of the Neolithic axe handles that have been found in Britain, including the Etton, Ehenside and Shulishader axes. More experimental research is needed to understand the optimal way of hafting axe heads.
Inefficient practice of flint heat treatment at Hasankeyf Höyük: An anti-functional view
This paper investigates the heat treatment of flint practiced at the Neolithic site of Hasankeyf Höyük in southeast Turkey. It does not involve petrographic or geochemical analysis to identify the physical and chemical evidence of heat treatment but aims to understand cultural aspects of the use of ancient lithic technology, using heat treatment as a case study. Heat treatment is a lithic production technique in which siliceous rocks are heated by controlled fire in order to improve their flaking quality. Archaeological evidence of heat treatment is seen all over the world, and numerous studies have contributed to the better understanding of this technique. However, what is particularly intriguing in the case of Hasankeyf Höyük is that there are many flint artefacts which were apparently overheated and unusable due to the frequent failure in achieving successful heat treatment. On the other hand, experimental studies using an electrical furnace and open fire show that once the appropriate heating time and temperature are learnt, the heat treatment of local flint at Hasankeyf Höyük is an easy process and does not require high technical skill. It is therefore suggested that heat treatment at this site was exercised along non-economic principles by people who were not very keen on improving technological efficiency, even when they could have easily done so.
To haft and to hold: Evidence for the hafting of Clovis fluted points
Alan Michael Slade
Clovis fluted points vary considerably in technology and morphology, but also share a set of attributes, the most diagnostic of which are the flute scars, the remnants of the flake removals from the basal region that travelled up towards the tip. Fluting on Clovis and Clovis-like points generally extends no further than a third of the way up the face of the point. Finished points are usually ground smooth along the base and lower edges, suggesting facilitation of the hafting (attachment) to a wooden shaft or handle by way of an ivory or bone socket. The points may have been hafted directly to a main-shaft and used as a thrusting spear during close encounter attacks, or in the hand as knife or butchery tool. Alternatively, an intermediary shaft, or foreshaft may have been used to secure the point. The suggestion of foreshafts being used by Clovis hunters received support after the discovery of bone rods in association with mammoth remains and Clovis points at the type site at Blackwater Draw, New Mexico in 1936. Several other Clovis-aged sites across North America have yielded ivory and beveled rods that have also been associated with foreshafts and the hafting of Clovis points. Scratches that are present on a couple of Clovis points made on varieties of obsidian, have been identified as being “hafting abrasion” evidence, this roughening of the surface would have helped in securing the point into the shaft or socket. In one example from the Hoyt site in Oregon, remains of a “pitch” or hafting adhesive was discovered in the abrasions in the fluted area of the point.
Experimental production of lithic artefacts: Developing understanding; developing engagement
This paper is reflective and discusses the results of a process experiment designed to develop understanding of a particular British Early Upper Palaeolithic stone tool technology. The technology in question is the Lincombian, and the discussion breaks down into three main parts. The first part argues that raw material availability and practitioner performance can be influential factors within the modern experimental reproduction process. When these issues were factored in for this experiment it became clear that early phase debitage materials reflected a process of interpretation, not replication. The second substantive part of this discussion focuses upon the final phase of the experimental process. Selection criterion for assessing finished artefacts was tightly constrained by archaeologically derived data. It is argued therefore that when finished artefacts fell within these assessment criteria the final phase of the process was akin to replication. Consequently debitage associated with the final phase can provide useful analogue material to fill gaps in our understanding of this Lincombian technology. The final section is summative and returns to the issue of performance. It argues that practitioner performance facilitates audience engagement. Engagement is valuable for communicating understanding to both specialist and non-specialist audiences. The paper concludes by arguing that a rigorously evaluated experimental process can be used twice: firstly, as a tool for generating materials to develop our understanding; secondly, as an engaging performance to communicate understanding to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
Ground Stone Tools Research
Proceedings of the 2nd Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research
With guest editor Tatjana Gluhak.
Evolution and function of the Chinese carved horse hitching stone post
Ground stone technology in context: Consumption of grinding tools and social practice at Neolithic Avgi, NW Greece
Processing plants for food: Experimental grinding within the ERC-project PLANTCULT
Manufacture, use and management of macro-lithic resources in the Bronze Age settlement of Bruszczewo (Poland)
Selina Delgado-Raack, Jutta Kneisel, Janusz Czebreszuk, Johannes Müller
Ground stone tools from the copper production site Al-Khashbah, Sultanate of Oman
The Olynthus mill in the Alps: New hypotheses from two unidentified millstones discovered in Veneto region (Italy)
Limestone millstones: Facies, provenance and use of sandy to pure limestones in France
Economy and status of Neolithic to Early Bronze age sites in the Southern Caucasus during the 6th‐3rd mill. BCE: The evidence from ground stone tools
Tool-use experiments to determine the function of an incised ground stone artefact with potential symbolic significance
The querns from the Roman military camp at Hermeskeil (Rhineland-Palatinate): Bridging the gap to Caesar’s De Bello Gallico
Rock procurement and use during the Middle Neolithic: the Macrolithic tools of Dambach-la-Ville (Alsace, France)
Men at work: Grinding stone production in northern Ethiopia
Red sandstone as raw material of Baden culture (Late Copper Age) grinding stones (Balatonőszöd - Temetői dűlő site, Hungary), with a review of the red sandstone formations of SW-Hungary
From near and far: Stone procurement and exchange at Çukuriçi Höyük in Western Anatolia
Christoph Schwall, Michael Brandl, Tatjana M. Gluhak, Bogdana Milić, Lisa Betina, Lasse Sørensen, Danilo Wolf, Barbara Horejs
The earliest transverse grooved stones of Eurasia: Near Eastern distribution, types and chronology
Plant foods, stone tools and food preparation in prehistoric Europe: An integrative approach in the context of the ERC funded project PLANTCULT
Soultana M. Valamoti
Lava rotary querns of "Iron Age type" in Roman times