Integrating Functional Analysis: Contributions from Use-Wear Analysis within the Broader Context of Human Behavior in Prehistoric North America

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Many studies of lithic technology have utilized the concepts of economy and efficiency but rarely do they integrate direct evidence of tool function in conceptualizations of raw material economy. Similarly, use-wear analysts have produced a body of literature on the function of stone tools but have rarely integrated their results into the larger context of human behavior. Stone tool use-wear is often included as a separate section of archaeological reports and conclusions about tool function arising from use-wear analysis are rarely considered in conjunction with functional conceptions arising from tool morphology, assemblage composition, or spatial distribution. Recognizing the overall role that lithics play in complex economies requires a multifaceted approach to tool function. Function is not merely the physical use of a tool, but is contextual and complex, impacted by numerous factors, including climate, subsistence and settlement strategy, inter- and intragroup communication and competition, demography, and ideology. This symposium is aimed at fostering a more integrated approach to functional analysis; one that utilizes multiple datasets and highlights the wealth of information derived from use-wear analysis when incorporated into broader interpretations of prehistoric lifeways.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-7 of 7)

  • Documents (7)

  • Examining the Use Lives of Archaic Bipointed Bifaces: Cache Blades from the Riverside Site (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Katherine Sterner. Robert Ahlrichs.

    During the Late Archaic to Early Woodland transition, caches of blue gray chert bifaces were deposited throughout the Midwest, often in association with burials. Their utility between manufacture and deposition has long been the subject of speculation, but never compellingly demonstrated. Comprehensive use-wear analysis of these bifaces demonstrates that they were, in fact, used prior to deposition. Unfortunately, use-wear data in isolation tells us little about the actual role these bifaces...

  • Exploring the Ineffable Aspects of Stone Tools (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Melody Pope.

    Use-wear analysis provides precise functional attributes for materials and provides yet another source of data for archaeologists to use in classifying objects. People who used objects in the past knew them in other ways including what they did, when and how they were used, and by whom. In my presentation I propose that by combining use-wear, technological, and spatial evidence it is possible to approach more closely the complex correspondences that exist between materials and people. ...

  • The Recognition of Hafting Traces on Native American Stone Tools (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Larry Kimball.

    As Keeley (1982) pointed out some time ago, the recognition of microwear traces due to hafting is an important source of information not only about how stone tools were prepared for use, but how their differential discard affects the recognition of site structure and site function. This is because the economy of different hafting arrangements and the act of "retooling" is different for hafted versus unhafted tools. In an effort to consider the variable range of hafting traces among Native...

  • Task, Activity, and Context: Integrated Approaches to Use-wear Analysis (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only April Sievert.

    Use-wear has often been used to try to understand stone tools and tool types themselves. By focusing on lithics as used in specific tasks within activities that are part of larger contexts, relationships can be demonstrated and mapped using concept mapping tools. Use-wear studies deriving from complex agricultural sites in the Midwest are coupled with looks at activities performed by modern Native Americans.

  • Terminal Prehistoric and Protohistoric Hide Processing in the Central Ohio Valley: Synthesizing Microwear and Metric Data to Evaluate Endscraper Function and Use Intensity (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Davidson.

    As "beachheads of empire" 16th -17th century European colonies in eastern North America vigorously pursued trade relations with Natives to secure raw materials for export to an emerging global market. Exchanges of furs and hides, slaves and other commodities stimulated economic activity throughout eastern North America. Production of hides for exchange was widespread among native groups located on colonial peripheries. To contrast, relatively little research has evaluated the degree to which...

  • Usewear and Assemblage Composition: The Role of Endscrapers in Paleoindian Technological Organization (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas Loebel.

    Historically, microwear studies have focused around resolving issues centered on tool form and function. However, microwear also offers the opportunity to investigate site level activities surrounding "soft" technology, particularly in situations where organic preservation is poor or absent. In addition, when combined with a holistic approach to assemblage composition, microwear can provide larger insights into the organization of technology and larger patterns of adaptation. In this paper I...

  • Wear traces from some experimental chipped stone extractive tools (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marvin Kay. Justin Dubois. Devin Pettigrew.

    Experimental replicas of chipped stone sickle blades and both arrowheads and atlatl darts are used to evaluate (1) stages of sickle gloss formation as affected by moisture content of harvested wild grasses and domesticated rye cereal grains and (2) armature impact and penetration wear traces. Herbaceous plant moisture content was calculated along with the total time of harvesting by wooden sickles mounted with stone prismatic blades. High speed digital photography recorded projectile flight...