Innovative Interpretive Approaches in Microwear and Residue Analyses

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

There have been major advances in microwear and residue analyses in recent years regarding method development. Interpretive methods, however, have not been in step with these new methodological developments. In this symposium we present new ways of applying microwear and residue analysis for the study of human culture, economics, social organisation, and site formation. With greater understanding of the potential contribution of these techniques, we hope to extend the breadth of their use and further expand their applications in archaeology.

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  • Documents (7)

  • Exploring Domestic Tasks at Kharaneh IV using Lithic Microwear Analysis (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Danielle Macdonald. Lisa Maher.

    The use and division of space in the Early Epipalaeolithic gives insights into the nature of social interaction in the Southern Levant prior to the advent of permanent architecture. This presentation presents preliminary results from the microwear analysis of the Jordanian Epipalaeolithic site Kharaneh IV to explore the nature of domestic tasks within a hut structure. Kharaneh IV is located in the Azraq basin, Eastern Jordan, dating to the Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic periods. The site’s...

  • Interpreting uses of cereal threshing tools and straw storage structures from Neolithic, Chacolithic and Bronze Age sites in the near East (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Patricia Anderson.

    Optical reflected light and transmitted light microscopy, laser confocal analysis, SEM and EDX analyses, accompanied by field and laboratory experiments, were used to study surfaces and residues for stone and bone tools, soil deposits and mudbrick. Case studies presented here suggest two types of intensive threshing practices were occurring from the beginnings of agriculture. Bone tools from the early Neolithic in Iran show large amounts of cereals were threshed so as to leave long stems,...

  • Investigating the toolkit for building a Neolithic house: microwear and the missing majority (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Annelou Van Gijn.

    Many microwear studies focus on one material category. Instead we explored the technological and functional interconnectivity of different tools used in one chaîne opératoire. During the experimental reconstruction of a Late Neolithic houseplan excavated in the Dutch wetlands, we made use of a variety of implements: stone axes and adzes, bone and antler objects, and tools of wood. In total 120 tools were used for almost 20,000 minutes during the four week construction period. We recorded the...

  • Representative Samples and Method Calibration for Lithic Microwear Interpretation frameworks (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adrian Evans.

    This paper builds on discussion of combined blind-test datasets for lithic microwear analysis method previously presented by the author (Evans 2014). A large randomly sampled assemblage, from the Mesolithic site of West Stainton in England, was analysed using traditional microwear analysis. The size of the assemblage may allow an investigation of variation of tool function within different classes. However predicted error rates from the combined blind-test dataset were used in monte carlo and...

  • Scales of Analysis, Scales of Interpretation: Interpretive Scope and Analytical Precision in Lithic Use-wear Research or ‘Trees are great but don’t forget about the forest!’ (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Harry Lerner.

    Ever since the inception of the New Archaeology back in the 1960s there has been an emphasis within the discipline on increasing analytical rigor through ever-more precise quantification of material culture variability. While striving to improve and expand our analytical arsenal is always a worthy pursuit, these efforts must be accompanied by critical reflection on how and why we use our increasingly refined analytical techniques to address larger behavioral and cultural questions. Precise and...

    DOCUMENT Citation Only Aimee Little. Shannon Croft. Charlotte Rowley. Oliver Craig. Nicky Milner.

    New research on micowear and micro-residue traces on flint and organic artefacts from Star Carr is currently underway. Extensive 3D recording of thousands of artefacts spanning several excavation seasons using GIS has provided an excellent high-resolution spatial record. As well as low/high power approaches to microwear analysis, microresidues are being analysed using the contextual approach. Flint tools displaying residues of particular interest are being flagged for more detailed imaging by...

  • Trollesgave: Hunter-Gatherer Social Organisation during the Late Glacial in Northwest Europe (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Randolph Donahue. Anders Fischer.

    Microwear analysis in combination with refitting and lithic reduction is applied to reconstruct the function and social organisation at the Late Glacial site of Trollesgave, Denmark. Analyses of the flint knapping and the spatial distribution of its products reveal the traces of at least three individuals: expert, medium competent, and inexperienced. Based on the quality of craftsmanship and the aberrant habits of disposing their products of the latter, there is evidence for one and possibly two...