Prehension and Hafting Traces on Flint Tools

Prehension and Hafting Traces on Flint Tools: A Methodology

Veerle ROTS
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 298
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qf05s
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  • Book Info
    Prehension and Hafting Traces on Flint Tools
    Book Description:

    The capacity to mount stone tools in or on a handle is considered an important innovation in past human behaviour. The insight to assemble two different materials (organic and inorganic) into a better functioning entity indicates the presence of the required mental capacity and technological expertise. Although the identification of stone tool use based on microscopic analysis was introduced in the 1960s, distinguishing between hand-held and hafted tool use has remained a more difficult issue. This volume introduces a methodology, based on a systematic, in-depth study of prehension and hafting traces on experimental stone artefacts, which allows their recognition in archaeological assemblages. The author proposes a number of distinctive macro- and microscopic wear traits for identifying hand-held and hafted stone tools and for identifying the exact hafting arrangement. Tested hafting arrangements vary according to the articulation between stone tool and handle, and to the raw materials and fixation agents used. Tool uses include various motions and worked materials. This largely experimental investigation concludes in a blind testing of the reliability of the method itself, showing that a wider application of the designed method has the potential to contribute significantly to our understanding of technological changes and evolutions and past human behaviour.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-006-0
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. v-vi)
    Veerle Rots
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. LIST OF PLATES
    (pp. xv-xix)
  6. LIST OF TABLES (CD-ROM)
    (pp. xx-xx)
  7. GLOSSARY
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. 1. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)

    As long as prehistoric research goes back, people have been interested in what stone tools were used for. Semenov (1957, English translation 1964) was the first to deal systematically with this question and to come up with a technique that made answers conceivable. Starting from the observation that stone tool use results in traces of wear visible on a tool’s edges, he explored the possibilities of interpreting them with the aid of a microscope. Since then, use-wear analysis has come a long way. Different levels of magnification were tested (Odell 1977; Kamminga 1978; Del Bene 1979; Keeley 1980; Del Bene...

  9. 2. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
    (pp. 7-36)

    The turbulent background of use-wear studies necessitates an extensive discussion of the research methodology. After all, one of the main causes of scepticism and disbelief towards microscopic functional research in its initial phases was the lack of a sound methodology, resulting in often poorly documented and ill-founded interpretations. Despite the controversies, use-wear analysis has become a valid approach in itself, complementary to other approaches. It contributes in its own right to a better understanding of past human behaviour.

    In prehistoric research, microwear studies occupy a privileged place. Their use of experiments allows for the investigation of trace formation processes which...

  10. 3. PREHENSION AND HAFTING TRACES: DREAM OR REALITY?
    (pp. 37-72)

    In order to prove incontestably that prehension and hafting traces are produced and interpretable, an answer needs to be provided to a few basic questions:

    1. Are prehension and hafting traces formed?

    2. At what stage are hafting traces formed?

    3. Can hafting wear be distinguished from wear produced by external factors?

    4. Can hafting wear be distinguished from use-wear?

    5. Can hafting wear be distinguished from other prehensile wear?

    6. Does prehension wear have a recurring pattern?

    7. Does hafting wear have a recurring pattern? Consequently:

    8. Are prehension and hafting traces interpretable?

    9. What is the minimal use...

  11. 4. PREHENSION TRACES – DOMINANT VARIABLE: MATERIAL WORKED
    (pp. 73-76)

    Semenov once stated: “However hard the stone, traces of rubbing by the hand were usually left on it, if the tool was used without a handle. Friction of flint against skin, particularly when dusty and covered with sandy particles, gradually polished the surface.” (Semenov 1964: 14). He distinguished prehension polish from other polishes based on the lack of definition on the edges and the occurrence of a medium lustre on projecting points which dims in concavities. While prehension wear was partly dealt with in chapter 3, particular attention is devoted to the variable which determines the formation of prehension traces:...

  12. 5. HAFTING TRACES – DOMINANT VARIABLES I: USE MOTION AND MATERIAL WORKED
    (pp. 77-122)

    Several variables influence the formation of hafting traces. Dominant variables partially determine the process of hafting trace formation, while secondary variables merely cause some variations on an existing pattern. It is assumed that lack of understanding of dominant variables may result in misinterpretations, while this is not true for secondary variables even though their recognition may improve the ease and accuracy of interpretations. It is argued that the material worked and use motion, next to the hafting arrangement, are dominant variables in the process of hafting trace formation and that they may influence the interpretability of hafting traces.

    The influence...

  13. 6. HAFTING TRACES – DOMINANT VARIABLES II: HAFTING MATERIAL AND HAFTING ARRANGEMENT
    (pp. 123-172)

    Understanding the impact of hafting material and hafting arrangement on the formation of hafting traces is essential for any identification beyond the distinction between hand-held and hafted tools. The influence of both variables is identified and it is examined whether it proves to be independent of other predominant variables. Attention is devoted to the kind of impact each variable has (i.e., on which trace types or trace attributes), the potential link between a trace or trace attribute and an aspect of the hafting arrangement, and the impact of both variables on the certainty level of interpretations. The hafting material includes...

  14. 7. HAFTING TRACES – SECONDARY VARIABLES
    (pp. 173-182)

    Secondary variables do not determine the formation of hafting traces; they merely cause slight variations on an existing pattern. Knowledge of their impact is nevertheless important but it will not fundamentally change interpretations, or influence their certainty level. Six secondary variables are dealt with: raw material coarseness, tool morphology, retouch, use duration, tool protrusion from the haft, and the experimenter. The impact of each of these variables differs and is dealt with individually. The procedure is identical to that in the previous chapters: each trace type is dealt with separately, and for the discussion of trace attributes the sequence of...

  15. 8. INDIRECT EVIDENCE OF HAFTING
    (pp. 183-188)

    Some evidence may indirectly indicate hafting. Tangs and notches are probably what come to mind right away, but their link with hafting needs to be addressed in a systematic way on an archaeological level (Rots 2002c). Other wear data may however provide proven clues for hafting; the most obvious examples are the distribution of use-wear traces over the active part and fractures.

    If use-wear traces are used as indirect evidence of hafting, it is obviously not their morphology, but their distribution, which is important. The abrupt termination of well-developed use-wear traces is for instance a reliable argument, which is often...

  16. 9. BLIND TEST
    (pp. 189-196)

    The final blind test can be categorised as gradual in approach. All methods were used, but one after the other and more or less independently of each other. This test, as well as a more integrated one, was published (Rots et al. 2006). Tools were first analysed on a macroscopic level, next on a low power level, and finally on a high power level. Per method, a final interpretation was proposed which was not modified following subsequent analyses of the same tool using another method. Interpretations were not crosschecked for potential contradictions. Information retrieved per method was separated as far...

  17. 10. DISCUSSION
    (pp. 197-202)

    The importance of functional studies which include hafting and integrate other site information (typology, technology, spatial data) lies at different levels. On an artefact level, not just use (Plisson 1982; Vaughan 1985; Symens 1986; Beyries 1987a), but also the prehensile mode can be determined, and an insight is obtained into the life cycle of individual tools (see section 1.2), for instance use intensity and discard patterns (Odell 1996b; Rots 2003; 2005). On a site level, the site’s function, its specialisation and the spatio-functional organisation within it are studied (Cahen et al. 1979; Plisson 1985b; De Bie and Caspar 2000). Production...

  18. 11. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 203-206)

    While prehistoric stone tool hafting has been considered important for decades, in terms of both technological and cognitive evolutions, it has been hard to design methods which allow detailed insight into the introduction of hafting and its evolution through time. The main reason is that handles were manufactured from organic materials and these are only rarely preserved. The issue thus largely escapes us, but as finds become more and more numerous, promising new techniques have also been developed and these last couple of years have shown some progress in the matter.

    The choice whether or not to haft a stone...

  19. ANNEX I: TRACE ATTRIBUTES
    (pp. 207-212)
  20. ANNEX II: GENERAL TABLE OF EXPERIMENTS
    (pp. 213-226)
  21. REFERENCES
    (pp. 227-238)
  22. PLATES
    (pp. 239-274)