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Towards an understanding of retouch flakes: a use-wear blind test on knapped stone microdebitage

Towards an understanding of retouch flakes: a use-wear blind test on knapped stone microdebitage
Towards an understanding of retouch flakes: a use-wear blind test on knapped stone microdebitage
The retouching and resharpening of lithic tools during their production and maintenance leads to the production of large numbers of small flakes and chips known as microdebitage. Standard analytical approaches to this material involves the mapping of microartefact densities to identify activity areas, and the creation of techno-typologies to characterise the form of retouch flakes from different types of tools. Whilst use-wear analysis is a common approach to the analysis of tools, it has been applied much less commonly to microdebitage. This paper contends that the use-wear analysis of microdebitage holds great potential for identifying activity areas on archaeological sites, representing a relatively unexplored analytical resource within microartefact assemblages. In order to test the range of factors that affect the identification of use-wear traces on small retouch flakes, a blind test consisting of 40 retouch flakes was conducted. The results show that wear traces can be identified with comparable levels of accuracy to those reported for historic blind tests of standard lithic tools suggesting that the use-wear analysis of retouch flakes can be a useful analytical tool in understanding site function, and in increasing sample sizes in cases where assemblages contain few tools.
1932-6203
Chan, Benjamin
7fa328a9-d32c-4e6f-8b4e-01296ffe5138
Gibaja, Juan Francisco
7860e375-40fe-4e59-892d-a40e9d595f7f
García-Díaz, Virginia
a1a97909-16a0-40b9-9638-4bfbde6ec05d
Hoggard, Christian
dbf146d9-adf9-424f-a0c6-ae40c5497b9d
Mazzucco, Niccolò
49eb6c03-0641-4062-af34-5f131462ef9c
Rowland, Jake
7ccc2519-8713-4c65-a6db-1809ed5b87df
Van Gijn, Annelou
24cf13c0-d8a4-47f1-a863-a7d3dffc17d3
Chan, Benjamin
7fa328a9-d32c-4e6f-8b4e-01296ffe5138
Gibaja, Juan Francisco
7860e375-40fe-4e59-892d-a40e9d595f7f
García-Díaz, Virginia
a1a97909-16a0-40b9-9638-4bfbde6ec05d
Hoggard, Christian
dbf146d9-adf9-424f-a0c6-ae40c5497b9d
Mazzucco, Niccolò
49eb6c03-0641-4062-af34-5f131462ef9c
Rowland, Jake
7ccc2519-8713-4c65-a6db-1809ed5b87df
Van Gijn, Annelou
24cf13c0-d8a4-47f1-a863-a7d3dffc17d3

Chan, Benjamin, Gibaja, Juan Francisco, García-Díaz, Virginia, Hoggard, Christian, Mazzucco, Niccolò, Rowland, Jake and Van Gijn, Annelou (2020) Towards an understanding of retouch flakes: a use-wear blind test on knapped stone microdebitage. PLoS ONE. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0243101).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The retouching and resharpening of lithic tools during their production and maintenance leads to the production of large numbers of small flakes and chips known as microdebitage. Standard analytical approaches to this material involves the mapping of microartefact densities to identify activity areas, and the creation of techno-typologies to characterise the form of retouch flakes from different types of tools. Whilst use-wear analysis is a common approach to the analysis of tools, it has been applied much less commonly to microdebitage. This paper contends that the use-wear analysis of microdebitage holds great potential for identifying activity areas on archaeological sites, representing a relatively unexplored analytical resource within microartefact assemblages. In order to test the range of factors that affect the identification of use-wear traces on small retouch flakes, a blind test consisting of 40 retouch flakes was conducted. The results show that wear traces can be identified with comparable levels of accuracy to those reported for historic blind tests of standard lithic tools suggesting that the use-wear analysis of retouch flakes can be a useful analytical tool in understanding site function, and in increasing sample sizes in cases where assemblages contain few tools.

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pone.0243101 - Version of Record
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 13 November 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 7 December 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 446458
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/446458
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 772672ac-a6c0-4b25-b2fd-21862538e170

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Date deposited: 10 Feb 2021 17:33
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 04:46

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Contributors

Author: Benjamin Chan
Author: Juan Francisco Gibaja
Author: Virginia García-Díaz
Author: Christian Hoggard
Author: Niccolò Mazzucco
Author: Jake Rowland
Author: Annelou Van Gijn

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