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Stone tool analysis relies on a strong background in analytical and methodological techniques. However, lithic technological analysis has not been well integrated with a theoretically informed approach to understanding how humans procured, made, and used stone tools. Evolutionary theory has great potential to fill this gap. This collection of essays brings together several different evolutionary perspectives to demonstrate how lithic technological systems are a by-product of human behavior. The essays cover a range of topics, including human behavioral ecology, cultural transmission, phylogenetic analysis, risk management, macroevolution, dual inheritance theory, cladistics, central place foraging, costly signaling, selection, drift, and various applications of evolutionary ecology.
The life history of stone tools is intimately linked to tool production, use and maintenance. These are important processes in the organization of lithic technology, or the manner in which lithic technology is embedded within human organizational strategies of land use and subsistence practices. This volume brings together essays that measure the life history of stone tools relative to retouch values, raw material constraints and evolutionary processes. Collectively, they explore the association of technological organization with facets of tool form such as reduction sequences, tool production effort, artifact curation processes and retouch measurement. Data sets cover a broad geographic and temporal span, including examples from France during the Paleolithic, the Near East during the Neolithic, and other regions such as Mongolia, Australia, and Italy. North American examples are derived from Paleoindian times to historic period aboriginal populations throughout the United States and Canada.
In 1968 George Frison introduced the notion of artifact transformations as a result of use and resharpening. This “Frison Effect,” as it has come to be called, on stone tools can be viewed as the life histories of individual tools. Such life histories are intimately linked to tool production, use, and maintenance. This collection of chapters grew from presentations at a symposium entitled “Artifact Life-Cycle and the Organization of Lithic Technologies” that took place at the 71st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in 2006. The focus of that symposium and this volume is upon the relationship between the manner in which humans organize their lithic technology and the life history of lithic tools.
Researchers interested in lithic technological organization realize the importance of artifact life histories in understanding the intricacies of tool form and shape as they relate to production strategies for those tools. In an effort to better understand those relationships, lithic analysts (including contributors to this volume) have explored lithic reduction sequences, chaîne opératoire, tool curation, tool production effects, retouch measurements, and the role of lithic raw material as these relate to lithic technological organization and stone tool life history. A great deal of imaginative and compelling research has occurred since the Frison Effect was first recognized, and this collection of papers provides a fresh new look at all of these topics from both a methodological and a theoretical perspective.
I would like to thank all of the participants of the original symposium for their participation.
Chapter 4 introduced a classification scheme that separated chipped stone artifacts into two primary groups: debitage and tools. Tools are considered to be all those chipped stone objective pieces that have been modified by intentionally altering their form and those detached pieces that show signs of modification as a result of use. The discussion thus far has dealt primarily with debitage or chipped stone artifacts that are not tools. Now the discussion turns to tools, specifically bifaces (Figure 4.7, 3a), flake tools (Figure 4.7, 4c), and cores (Figure 4.7, 4d).
Since chipped stone tools include specimens that may have been altered by usewear only, it is important to re-emphasize the point that the analysis in this book is restricted to macroscopic approaches. Macroscopic approaches frequently require the use of a hand lens of about 10 × to observe some of the smaller attributes on stone tools. A small hand lens is particularly helpful in recognizing striking platform characteristics and retouch patterns. If magnification is required that is greater than that provided by a hand lens, a researcher needs to consider microscopic analysis. The section on “artifact function” at the end of this chapter provides a short discussion and review of microscopic techniques of stone tool analysis. Excellent studies of microscopic lithic analysis exist in the published literature (Hayden 1979a; Keeley 1980; Kooyman 1985; Lévi-Sala 1996; Lewenstein 1987; Vaughan 1985).
Macroscopic analysis of stone tools is considerably less time consuming than microscopic analysis.