‘To be or not to be…’ A Taphonomic Perspective on Pseudoartifacts

Author(s): Karen Borrazzo

Year: 2018


An anthropocentric perspective governs most of archaeological research into lithic assemblages. Hence, spatial and morphological trends in the lithic record are interpreted primarily in terms of human technological behavior without a systematic assessment of unintentional and/or non-human factors as sources of variation. Surprisingly, controversies on the natural vs. anthropic character of several lithic assemblages or ‘industries’ did not prompt the adoption of taphonomic approaches by lithic analysts on a regular basis. Here I argue that archaeologist’s lack of knowledge about the effects of taphonomic mechanisms -whether natural or cultural- on stone and other knappable materials is the main obstacle towards a more comprehensive analysis of lithic assemblages. Furthermore, I propose that the study of taphonomic patterns (or background noise) in non-archaeological contexts is a mandatory task that researchers need to undertake in every region to achieve a more thorough understanding of lithic assemblage formation processes and trends. From the perspective advocated here both naturalistic and experimental constituents of actualistic taphonomic research are key to identify the agents involved in the formation of any fossil record. I present case studies from Patagonia (Southern South America) to illustrate the main contributions of lithic taphonomy to assess pseudoartifact components in the surface record.

Cite this Record

‘To be or not to be…’ A Taphonomic Perspective on Pseudoartifacts. Karen Borrazzo. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444615)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -77.695; min lat: -55.279 ; max long: -47.813; max lat: -25.642 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21233