Everyone Made Stone Tools: Schedule

Everyone Made Stone Tools: Exploring Methodology in Lithic Analysis


I. Friday

3:00 PM – 3:15 PM: Welcome and Introduction
3:15 PM – 4:00 PM:  KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Ken Sassaman
4:00 PM – 4:15 PM:  Coffee Break
4:15 PM – 5:45 PM:  Presentation Session 1 (5 speakers)
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM:  Reception

II. Saturday

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM:  KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Steven Kuhn
9:45 AM – 10:15 AM: Coffee Break
10:15 AM – 12:15 PM: Presentation Session 2 (6 speakers)
12:15 PM – 2:45 PM: Lunch/Poster Display
2:45 PM – 4:30 PM:  Presentation Session 3 (5 speakers)
4:30 PM – 4:45 PM:  Thank you to all attendees

Schedule Outline


Susan E. Alcock & Clive Vella

The conference, Everyone Made Stone Tools: Exploring Methodology in Lithic Analysis emerged as part of a discussion carried out at the Northeast Graduate Archaeology Workshop (2010) at Brown University. Hosted by the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University October 14-15, 2011, this conference will focus on creating a dialogue between archaeologists studying widely different temporal and geographic topics.

Ken Sassaman

4:00 PM – 4:15 PM:  COFFEE BREAK


4:15-4:30: The Social Field of Craft Production: Investigating Change in Lithic Production Strategies at San Bartolo, Guatemala
Joshua J. Kwoka
University at Buffalo – SUNY

Beginning in the Middle Preclassic (600-400 B.C.), the ancient Maya of San Bartolo, Guatemala practiced a unique form of extra-household lithic production.  The onset of the Early Classic (A.D. 300) saw the abandonment of the site, and lithic production activities were organized differently when the site was reoccupied in the Late Classic (A.D. 600-850). Following a Bourdieusian framework, this paper will examine the habitus/field dialectic, associated practices, and transformations within the social field of craft production.  Furthermore, critiques of Bourdieu’s work as being deterministic and a self-replicating construct will be addressed in light of the lithic production data from San Bartolo.  An emphasis will be placed on the concepts of generational shift and hysteresis as means to explicate change in craft production practices.

4:30-4:45: Technological style, skilled practice and the analysis of de-structured sites
Manek Kolhatkar
Université de Montréal

The potential for understanding the social and ecological contexts of past societies has been greatly enhanced thanks to a broader knowledge of the ways individuals interact with each other and with their environment through their material culture. Central to this are the notions of skilled practice and technological style, that is, the manipulation of materials according to one’s ability to do so and to the tradition to which one belongs. This has interesting implications for the study of archaeological sites whose cultural remains were amputated by various taphonomic processes,whether it be the loss of spatial structuring or of organic remains. Indeed, the socially and skillfully structured activities that took place at such sitescould help and make up for some of its disintegration. Here, I wish to address these concerns through the study of a Late Paleoindian site located on the northern coast of the Gaspe peninsula, at the village of La Martre. The site was heavily damaged by agricultural and housing activities. I will show how I could restore some of the structure of the past activities at the site through the finer grained analysis of its lithic remains.

4:45-5:00: Using Behavioral Lithic Analysis as a Comparative Tool: Application to the Oldowan Industry of East Africa
Jay S. Reti
Rutgers University

Traditional Early Stone Age methods of lithic analysis make direct assemblage comparisons difficult. Results from these qualitative, typological analyses thus make broad conclusions about early human behavior based on highly localized lithic assemblages.  This research introduces a methodology called Behavioral Lithic Analysis (BLA) that uses large-scale experimental replications to quantify and define specific methods used to produce Early Stone Age lithic assemblages. Based on defined production behaviors and the statistical morphological parameters that differentiate these behaviors experimentally, archaeological material can be behaviorally classified with known probability curves.  Comparisons of archaeological sites can then be conducted quantitatively and hypotheses concerning relative production behaviors tested.

Research presented here applies the BLA methodology to 10 Oldowan archaeological sites from Koobi Fora, Northern Kenya and Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.  Results suggest that differential production behaviors were utilized both between (MANOVA, p<0.01, df=517) and within (MANOVA, p<0.01, df=138 for Koobi Fora; df=378 for Olduvai Gorge) these archaeological localities.  Quantitatively addressing production behaviors allows for specific comparisons of how sites were utilized, what techniques were used to produce stone tools over time and space, and allows for the identification of differential production patterns among even the earliest hominins.  The implications of using a BLA approach in Early Stone Age contexts, as well as other time periods and geographic locations will be discussed.

5:00-5:15: Small Sites, Little Flakes, and Long Travels: Using Choice in Lithic Production to Interpret Movement at Upland Sites in the Northeast
Niels R. Rinehart

Small upland sites in the Northeast are relatively common archaeologically and often produce only a handful of lithic artifacts. Standard interpretations of these sites, particularly in the CRM literature, typically place them within a limited functional site typology such as “resource procurement camp”. Yet despite the small size of these assemblages, it might be possible to interpret choices made in lithic production, in relation to the different raw materials recovered. An analysis of these relationship scan result in the creation of scenarios describing how the occupants of thesesmall sites may once have related to their larger landscape. Recent excavations at three small upland sites in eastern New York produced relatively low-density lithic assemblages with different raw materials, each produced in different ways. By looking at these differences and the different choices they reflect, it may be possible to interpret how these sites once fit within the larger spatialframework of the people who stopped there, even if only for a very short while. The conclusions, although tentative given the limited nature of the excavationsand the small size of the assemblages, are illustrative of another avenue of inquiry in the archaeology of upland sites in the Northeast.

5:15-5:30: Diachronic and Spatial Patternsin Lithic Production and Distribution Systems in the Gulf Coast Periphery of the Maya Lowlands: The View from Champotón, Campeche
Jerald D. Ek
University at Albany
Josalyn M. Ferguson
University at Albany

This paper examines patterns in the production, distribution, and consumption of lithic tools in several sites in the Municipio of Champotón, Campeche.  The results of the investigation have significant implications for understanding both diachronic and spatial differences in lithic production and distribution networks and in the local subsistence economy.  The data from Champotón reflect very little evidence of local production of stone tools in most sites in the Río Champotón drainage. Analysis of lithic debitage reflects predominantly late stage reductionand recycling, with very little material indicative of early stage production refuse. The results of this analysis suggest that lithic goods were entering the Champotón economic system as finished tools procured through exchange networks.  Furthermore, differences in lithic tool assemblages demonstrate radical differences in food production systems in inland and coastal zones. These data are consistent with other information from the Río Champotón drainage that reflect the importance of interregional trade networks in regional economic systems during the Classic and Postclassic Periods.

5:30-5:45: Discussion

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM: RECEPTION


Steven Kuhn

9:45 AM – 10:15 AM: COFFEE BREAK


10:15-10:30: Studying Quartz Lithics on Long Island and Coastal Southern New England
David J. Bernstein
Institute for Long Island Archaeology
State University of New York at Stony Brook

Michael J. Lenardi
New York State Museum

Steven Goldstein
Washington University in St. Louis

Daria Merwin
Institute for Long Island Archaeology
State University of New York at Stony Brook

There is no item found in greater abundance at prehistoric archaeological sites on the coast of New York and southern New England than tools and debitage of cobble quartz. Despite the ubiquity of quartz artifacts, little progress has been made in analyzing these materials locally or elsewhere. In this paper, we describe a number of techniques that we have applied to the study of quartz over the last decade. These include the quantitative analysis of debitage, usewear analysis, replication, and the study of blood residues.

10:30-10:45: Integrating Methods: Combining Attribute Data and Statistical Analysis
Jaclyn Nadeau
New York State Museum
University at Albany

I present preliminary findings on the cultural and technological changes occurring in prehistoric populations of eastern New York from the Late Archaic through the Late Woodland. The research is based primarily on assemblages excavated through cultural resource management projects and housed at the New York State Museum and Rogers Island Visitor’s Center. Reduction stages and manufacture techniques identified at archaeological sites are often used to link settlement patterns and lithic technology. This study will focus on a combination of easily replicable techniques, as well as a relatively new method of lithic analysis, to examine whether the transition to sedentism can be seen in variations in resource use and reduction strategies.

10:45-11:00: From the Ground Down: A Typological and Technological Analysis of a Lithic Assemblage from an Aboriginal site in Central New South Wales
Tory Stening
Comber Consultants

The most common site type in New South Wales, Australia, the surface artefact scatter has been the subject of a great many archaeological assessments and cultural heritage survey reports. However, to date interpretation of these surface scatters has remained limited because archaeologists have struggled with the lack of stratigraphy in surface deposits and there has been a general consensus that surface scatters have lost spatial and temporal integrity (Fanning et al. 2009: 122).

Excavations at a site in central New South Wales that had been significantly altered by geomorphic and taphonomic processes resulting from European land management practices revealed a small and predominantly surface lithic assemblage. A typological and technological analysis was undertaken in combination with an analysis of the extent to which land degradation had impacted on artefact retention and deposition. This paper demonstrates that significant cultural information related to occupation, duration and intensityof a site can be elucidated from a surface scatter whose context had been impacted by geomorphological and taphonomic changes.

11:00-11:15: New Production Tool Found at Hamontún?
Jason S.R. Paling
University at Albany

Formerly referred to as El Peru, the Mayan center of Hamontún, translated as the “Place of the Water Macaw,” is found in the northeast Guatemala and is located approximately three kilometers to the southeast of Civaland five kilometers to the northeast of Holmul.  Hamontún was first reported in 2003 by the Holmul Archaeological Project (Estrada-Belli 2003).  Archaeological operations set adjacent to residential and monumental structures at Hamontún during the 2009 field season were designed to locate household middens. These excavations provided evidence of the relationship between economic and political complexity among Maya lowland political centers in the Holmulregion. Although the completion of the lithic debris analysis is far from over, we are confident to announce the discovery of two lithic workshops at Hamontún.

Characteristic of lithic workshops, production failures, core fragments, and production tools, such as hammerstones, commonly appear among the matrix of production debris. Unlike the materials collected from lithic workshops in and around the region, no hammerstones or hammerstone fragments were found in one of Hamontun’s workshops. The matrix of the flake debris was composed of secondary and tertiary bifacial thinning flakes, which are indicative of the final production stages of bifacial tools. Results from our mass lithic debitage analysis of excavation T.44 indicate that the matrix of this workshop was composed mainly of 1” and ½” flakes that lacked cortex. Wedid recover five rare pieces and in keeping with the French/Bordes tradition of classifying lithics, these pieces are called D’Harlingue pressure flaking tools.  The first such D’Harlingue wa snoted at the Mayan center of San Estevan, Belize.  It was initially believed to be the distal end of a polished chisel/burnisher (Paling 2008). Most of these pieces collected at Hamontún are distal fragments, although a similar and complete piece was found at Cival in 2003. It is likely that these polished, chisel-like pieces are the fragmented distal ends of a tool used to create the bifacial edge and consequently shape a tool in the final stages of production.  A series of measurements collected from 20% of the total number of flakes from T.44 will provide information to contrast or correlate the width of flake platforms to the width of the bit ends of the D’Harlingues. It is too early in our analysis to conclusively identify these pieces as production tools, but the evidence in favor is overwhelming.

11:15-11:30: Pastoralist Microlith Economies in Southern Kenya: The Relationship Between Raw Material, Production, Retouch and Mobility
Steven T. Goldstein
Washington University in Saint Louis

Geometric microliths and backed blade pieces are among themost diagnostic and abundant implements in African Later Stone Age lithic assemblages. While typically associated with pre-agricultural societies, the microlith continues to be vital tool in sub-Saharan regions as animal domesticates and nomadic herding strategies spread. Analysis of these tools has been largely typological, resulting in a limited understanding of their manufacture, use and curation. A number of measures of these characteristics were adapted and applied to microlithic assemblages from several pastoral sites in southern Kenya, as were combined with traditional metrics. The results demonstrate a relationship between microlith technology and patterns of mobility, with possible patterned difference between and within archaeological assemblage groups.

11:30-12:00: Discussion 


Poster Titles:

New York State’s Gneiss Bannerstones: The Form and Function of Flight
Ralph Ratual
New York State Museum

Cortex Ratio as Measure of Hunter-Gatherer Mobility: methodological robustness, issues, and archaeological implications
Sam Lin, Matthew Douglass, Daniel Parker, Simon Holdaway, Harold Dibble

An Experimental Work to Understand the Possible Functionality of Acheuelan Handaxes
Zupancich and Profitt

The UI-OSA Lithic Raw Material Assemblage: An Online Resource for Archaeological Studies of Debitage and Chipped Stone Tools.
Mark L. Anderson and Daniel G. Horgen
University of Iowa’s Office of the State Archaeologist

Prehistoric Stone Tools and Hide Processing in the Upper Susquehanna River Valley: An Experimental Approach to Studies in Use Wear Analysis
Nicole Weigel
University at Albany

Understanding Socio-Economic Change at DhRp-52, Canada, Using Lithic Assemblage Analyses
Emily A. Wilkerson

Chert Sourcing and Sampling in Highland Chiapas
Elizabeth Paris
University at Albany

Lithic Analysis of the Newland Island Site: Settlement patterns in stone
Christopher Sobik
New York State Museum
University at Albany



2:45-3:00: Rock On! Lithic Analysis in Medieval and Post-Medieval Iceland
Kevin P. Smith
Brown University

3:00-3:15: Analyzing Lithic Debitage Assemblages with the Assistance of SPSS, Statistical Programming for Social Scientists
Mark L. Anderson
University of Iowa’s Office of the State Archaeologist

Lithic artifacts have often been recognizedas the most abundant of artifact types. As such, debitage and chipped stone tools are the more salient parts ofarchaeological sources of data.  The need for analytical tools that clearly quantify a given lithic assemblage and offeradditional opportunities for deeper analysis are important.  For the past ten years I have beenexperimenting with the analysis of lithic debitage assemblages using the software package SPSS, Statistical Programming for Social Scientists.  Using a 12-category database, the program provides descriptive statistics for each assemblage, including frequencies and cross-tabulations, allowing one to see basic information in a quick, orderly fashion.  Further statistical applications such as linear regression curves can also be applied quickly and efficiently. This analytical process has proved to be a conducive technique inexploring variability in lithic data relevant to questions regarding the technological and social behavior of those manufacturing stone tools.  Several different projects are presented asexample of how this analytic technique has been used to further explore human behavior through lithic debitage.

3:15-3:30: New insights into technological variability in the earliest Middle Stone Age from Keraswanin, Kenya
Blegen, N., Johnson, C., McBrearty, S., Leslie, D. and Clifton, B.
University of Connecticut

In the Middle Pleistocene a significant technological change takes place where thehand held tools of the Acheulian are abandoned in favor of the hafted tools that typifythe Middle Stone Age. The fundamental behavioral reorganization at this transitionsignals significant evolutionary change, the origin of H. sapiens. The KapthurinFormation, Kenya, has a well dated succession that spans the Acheulian to MSAtransition. Previous work has shown that late Acheulian and early MSA assemblagesare interstratified and ongoing excavations here are instrumental to understanding theappearance and technological characteristics of the earliest Middle Stone Age. Here wedescribe findings from a new excavation at Keraswanin (GnJh-78). Keraswanin datesto >285 Ka, and as such is one of the earliest Middle Stone Age localities. To date wehave recovered over 8900 stone artifacts from excavation and surface collection. In situartifacts include Levallois cores, blade, points and other retouched tools typologicallyand technologically characteristic of the MSA. Lithic technology at Keraswanin shows asurprising degree technological diversity. The diverse nature of the lithic technology atKeraswanin and other early MSA assemblages from the Kapthurin Formation indicatesa flexible behavioral adaptation that would have been advantageous for optimizingresource extraction in a semi-arid mosaic habitat that is particularly susceptible toenvironmental instability.

3:30-3:45: Applying an Organization of Technology Model: Early Archaic Lifeways and Inferences from the Hart Site, Kentucky
Philip J. Carr
University of South Alabama
Andrew P. Bradbury
Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc.

An organizational approach to the study of technology has roots in the Americanist processual paradigm. Further development of this approach continues. Recently, we have modified a proposed framework for an organization of technology approach (OTA) into a model. This OTA model of lithic assemblage formation looks to tool design and activities (minimally procurement, manufacture, use/reuse, and discard) as key factors.  Design and activities, in turn, provide information concerning technological strategies, which are ultimately responsive to economic and social strategies situated in a particular environment.  The Hart Site, an Early Archaic occupation in Kentucky, is presented as a case study to demonstrate the utility of the model.  Many of the bifacial tools used and discardedon site were manufactured at distances greater than 40 km.  Locally occurring materials (within 15 km of the site) were used to replace these exhausted tools of non-local cherts, many of which exhibited evidence of extreme use, likely a function of the distance to the source and a need to conserve bifaces of high-quality materials.  These aspects of the organization of lithic technology, when inserted in the model, allow inferences concerning prehistoric economic and social strategies, particularly mobility.

3:45-4:00: A Manifesto for Technology and Production in Lithic Studies: Re-Hashing a Worn Purpose of Study
Clive Vella
Brown University

Archaeological study of technology and production is not in its infancy, especially in thesphere of lithic analysis. There has been however, an unequal utilization and often variable use of methodologies that comprise the core of archaeological artifact studies. This has increasingly led to an irregular use of theoreticalparadigms that lack an appropriate use and are diminished in their potentialities. Therefore, the setting out of an archaeological agenda as to the elements that should constitute lithic studies presently is deemednecessary. In particular this paper, largely conceived from the side of the OldWorld will debate and discuss the present need to better integrate New World paradigms of wide and significant useto archaeology. Finally, being in the form a manifesto the debate presented isoften personally charged, motivated through perceived issues, and uneven use of technology and production paradigms that trouble lithic studies.

4:00-4:30: Discussion