Stone tools from the outside: correlating object mass and shape

Author(s): Amy Fox

Year: 2016


This poster describes a novel high-resolution 3D geometric morphometric outline method that is able to describe object shape in great detail. Elliptical Fourier spherical harmonics - SPHARM –quantifies the shape of an object by producing values for the elliptical Fourier harmonic formula over multiple iterations of the object’s surface. This technique is applied to a series of handaxes from Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa, and the data is correlated with the volumetric research of Riddle and Chazan (2014) to ascertain the relationship between handaxe shape and mass within this particular sample. Their radial point distribution (RPD) method uses 3D point-cloud data placed within a digitized 3D handaxe object and calculates the distribution of points within ever-expanding spherical shells based off the object’s centroid. Both SPHARM and RPD are size-invariant metrics and as such they are complimentary methodologies. The results of this study demonstrate that different shapes of object can produce comparable mass distributions, an important revelation when studying typology. This poster describes how non-traditional metrics can explore the various ways that humans and objects can interface, and how these ideas are necessary components of a holistic typology.

Cite this Record

Stone tools from the outside: correlating object mass and shape. Amy Fox. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404697)

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