Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Authors: Schunk, Lisa
Title: Understanding Middle Palaeolithic asymmetric stone tool design and use: use-wear analysis and controlled experiments to assess Neanderthal technology
Online publication date: 3-May-2022
Language: english
Abstract: Variability within the Stone Age archaeological record, including temporal and spatial diversification, is exemplified by its lithic technologies. Consequently, research questions centre upon conception, production and use of lithic tools; along with aspects of tool design, functionality and performance. This case study focuses on a Late Middle Palaeolithic asymmetric tool type (Keilmesser or bifacial backed knives) commonly found in Central Europe. Due to their morphology and publicised interpretations as tools in long-term use, Keilmesser offer great potential to address the questions above and adding those of raw material selection, tool maintenance and handling. Three Keilmesser assemblages from the sites of Balver Höhle, the Buhlen Upper site (both Germany) and La Grotte de Ramioul (Belgium) were analysed. Applying a multiparameter approach, including a functional analysis combined with controlled experiments, common interpretations were tested and evaluated. The influences of variables such as raw material, edge angle and applied movement (i.e. velocity, acceleration, force) on tool performance were isolated and tested in a series of controlled (second-generation) experiments. Use-wear traces on Keilmesser and corresponding (re-)sharpening spalls were analysed qualitatively and quantitatively for their spatial distribution and intensity. The combined results show a technology applied in a standardised manner aiming at the production and use of a handheld backed tool with a single active edge. Designed with an edge angle increasing from the distal tip to the proximal base of the tool, the tool’s active edge may have served for different functions. The results of the use-wear analysis appear to support the multifunctionality of these tools. Experiments confirm the suitability of the varying edge angles to perform both cutting and carving movements. In sum, the study demonstrates the importance of systematically employing different methods and scales of analysis in order to achieve a more holistic view on the design of a specific tool type.
DDC: 930 Alte Geschichte
930 History of ancient world
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 07 Geschichts- u. Kulturwissensch.
Place: Mainz
URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:77-openscience-33813c64-17ea-46c2-9822-79c2dfb540ad7
Version: Original work
Publication type: Dissertation
License: CC BY-SA
Information on rights of use:
Extent: 952 Seiten, Illustrationen, Diagramme
Appears in collections:JGU-Publikationen

Files in This Item:
  File Description SizeFormat
understanding_middle_palaeoli-20220419161126173.pdf56.17 MBAdobe PDFView/Open