Diversity and Lithic Microwear: Quantification, Classification, and Standardization

Author(s): W. James Stemp; Danielle A. Macdonald

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Defining and Measuring Diversity in Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Over the past decade, lithic microwear analysis has witnessed a shift in how data is collected, moving away from optical microscopy towards a more quantifiable practice. The adoption of surface metrology microscopes, including confocal and focus variation, allows for the measurement of surface roughness or texture, thus distinguishing different wear features based on surface measurements rather than verbal descriptions of wear characteristics and photomicrographic evidence. This paper explores how lithic microwear analysts traditionally define categories of wear, the range of wear classification criteria and categorization systems, the levels of variation within these categories, and how our definitions of wear are changing with new quantitative techniques. We explore how variables, such as duration of use, force, and post-depositional processes, change wear characteristics, necessitating a new assessment of diversity within microwear categories. Key to using diversity as a measure of variation of microwear on stone tools from different assemblages or sub-assemblages is the adoption of a consistent classification system for microwear categories. Understanding the processes by which wear categories are defined and the acceptable levels of variation within and between these categories brings us closer to creating a standardized microwear practice.

Cite this Record

Diversity and Lithic Microwear: Quantification, Classification, and Standardization. W. James Stemp, Danielle A. Macdonald. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450513)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23118