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Vrtání broušených seker v neolitu. O úloze zkušenosti a dovednosti

Author(s): Radomír Tichý ; Jan Knotek

Year: 2011

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Summary

Drilling of polished axes in the Neolithic. On the role of experience and skill

The article describes a set of four experiments with drilling of Neolithic polished tools using authentic materials with following results:

1. A smooth hole and core was created during the experiment when a tubular wooden drill made from elder with stone (flint) drill bits was used. It is possible that sandstone round files were used to prepare the inner hollow of the drill and to sharpen the flint drill bits.

2. Wetting of the drilled hole was not helpful. It is even possible to speak of ‘dusty’ drilling. Wetting softened the wooden drill which then would not hold the stone bits.

3. Especially at the beginning, the drill had to be held by the bearing board, later this was not necessary.

4. Pushing the drill down was not necessary. The direction of the drill was held by a lever of wooden construction so that the position of the axe of the drill did not change but often it was possible to lighten it rather than push it down.

5. All the time the stone to be drilled had to be fixed in a constant position. This corresponds with the occasionally inclined direction of drilling found in the original artefacts which could not be fully controlled during working.

6. Many archaeologically documented unfinished holes are probably failures. Often the hole became too narrow and it was possibly easier to attempt a new hole rather than to correct a ‘stuck’ drill.

7. The suggested way of drilling does not contradict archaeological evidence. Remains of microlithic bits worn by drilling are easy to miss (Fig. 15), similarly the waste created during the experiment on preparing of roughouts of polished stone tools (Tichý – Drnovský 2007).

Evidence of workshops originates nearly exclusively from field walking where it is not possible to count on finding such small fragments of silicites even if they were present. The conditions of the excavation on one of the first properly excavated workshops (Macháčková – Prostředník

2001) were complex, with no floatation. On the basis with experience with the results of floatation on the Neolithic site of Mohelnice it is necessary to say that the material is very difficult to recognise without microscopic analysis. Unfinished artefacts are known from old isolated finds without original context and we can presume that they were cleaned by their finders. An interesting example of the presence of sand in an unfinished artefact is a find from Želč near Žatec mentioned by Vencl (1960, 9). This find is, so far, unique. We have to consider the possibility that it may represent secondary intrusion which has no relation to its original working.

8. It proved advantageous to use a single elder stick for the drill, combination of a ‘drilling head’ with a thinner stick leads to breakages of the head (Fig. 7).

9. Times measured during the experiments are for orientation only and it is impossible to make any conclusions. They served to compare the chosen methods of drilling. Nevertheless it is possible to see that they shorten the time generally presumed for making drilled stone polished tools in the Neolithic.

Although the parameters of the experiments in principle corresponded to the methodology of a scientific experiment (Reynolds 2011), it is not out aim here to classify its basis. Nevertheless it deserves the following evaluation: the experiments were based on clear aims and hypothesis, they corresponded with materials used and they are repeatable. The influence of variables was controllable despite the great role of the experimenter. The feeling for the work with the drill makes this experiment unique. The relation between the conclusions of the experiment and archaeological evidence is not without problems as mentioned above but the differences from original evidence is smaller than in earlier cases.


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Cite this Record

Vrtání broušených seker v neolitu. O úloze zkušenosti a dovednosti. Radomír Tichý, Jan Knotek. Živá Archeologie, (Re)konstrukce a experiment v archeologii. 12/2011: 19-28. 2011 ( tDAR id: 423803)


Keywords

General
Axe drilling stone

Geographic Keywords
Czech Republic

Temporal Keywords
Neolithic


Spatial Coverage

min long: 12.094; min lat: 48.581 ; max long: 18.851; max lat: 51.052 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): EXARC Experimental Archaeology Collection Manager


Record Identifiers

ExArc Id(s): 11063

Notes

Rights & Attribution: The information in this record was originally compiled by Dr. Roeland Paardekooper, EXARC Director.


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