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Testing the greasy lustre: a Mass Gloss Analysis of coarse grained silcrete from the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area, south-eastern Australia

Author(s): Rhiannon Stammers ; Andy Herries ; Nicola Stern

Year: 2015

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Summary

The heat treatment of silcrete for lithic production has been identified as far back as 72,000 years ago, using a variety of scientific techniques. However, in most contexts simple visual assessment, notably the appearance of a lustrous red surface, is used to identify the use of heat treatment. Mass Gloss Analysis (MGA) is a quantitative, non-destructive method designed for measuring the increase in lustre noted on heat-treated lithics. Initially developed to investigate microcrystalline silcretes in South Africa, these studies illustrated an increase in gloss on the interior surfaces of blanks heat-treated prior to lithic production. This study explores whether MGA is applicable to coarse-grained silcrete by analysing lithics from the Chibnalwood Lake Beach Quarry, in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage area, south-eastern Australia. Actualistic and laboratory studies of silcrete from the Willandra Lakes region provide a comparison to the archaeological assemblage. The experimental material displayed an increase in gloss unit when heat treated compared to the control samples. This suggests that MGA is applicable to coarse-grained silcrete, although the increase was not as well defined as studies on microcrystalline material. Comparison between experimental samples and the Chibnalwood archaeological assemblage indicate that the assemblage was produced on non-heat treated blanks.

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Testing the greasy lustre: a Mass Gloss Analysis of coarse grained silcrete from the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area, south-eastern Australia. Rhiannon Stammers, Andy Herries, Nicola Stern. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397558)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America