Posts Tagged ‘tools’

Topic: Clovis points- multipurpose tool

Clovis spearpoints, named for Clovis, N.M., where they were found among the bones of mammoths, represent the epitome of North American Stone Age weaponry.

They tend to be large, finely crafted and made from high-quality flint. Although they were long thought to be specialized mammoth-killing weapons, new research suggests they were more like general purpose Boy Scout knives.

If Clovis points were specialized tools designed specifically to kill big-game animals such as mammoths and mastodons, then the special kinds of flint used in their manufacture along with the exquisite craftsmanship simply might have been practical necessities for producing a reliable instrument used to kill big game.

It also is possible that the special qualities of Clovis points were due to ritual practices the makers believed would help to ensure the success of high-risk hunting ventures.

Clovis points certainly were used at times to kill both mammoths and mastodons. In addition to the original site, Clovis points have been found at 11 other sites with mammoth remains and two sites with mastodon bones. Nevertheless, some doubt was cast on the idea that Clovis points were made expressly to kill mammoths and mastodons a few years ago when Mark Seeman, who was a Kent State University researcher, and colleagues identified blood residue from rabbits on Clovis points from the Nobles Pond site in Stark County. Now Logan Miller, an Ohio State University graduate student studying archaeology, has observed microwear traces on a Clovis point from the Paleo Crossing site in Medina County. His results, which indicate the tool was used to cut soft plants, were recently published in the journal Lithic Technology.

Using high-power magnification, Miller examined a sample of 10 stone tools, including two Clovis points, and identified a variety of polishes that are indicative of different uses. This microwear reveals both the ways in which the tools were used, such as cutting versus scraping, and also the type of material on which they were used, such as meat, hide, bone or soft plant.

Miller reported that one of the Clovis points exhibited “linear striations near the tip” — the type of microwear pattern you would expect to find on a spearpoint used to kill an animal. Unfortunately, the microwear can’t tell us whether that animal was a mastodon, a rabbit or a deer.

The other Clovis point had two kinds of microwear on its sides and edges — a “dull greasy polish,” which indicates that it was used to cut meat or fresh hide, and an overlay of a “very bright, smooth polish,” which indicates that it was last used to cut soft plant material.Finding evidence that a Clovis point was used to cut soft plants does not necessarily mean that Paleoindian hunters were stalking wild asparagus. The point might have been used to process plant fibers to make cordage or basketry.

Nevertheless, it does suggest that far from being specialized mammoth-hunting weapons, Clovis points were the equivalent of Paleolithic all-purpose utility knives.

Such a versatile tool would have been handy for hunter-gatherers, who had to carry all their possessions around with them as they roamed across their Ice Age world.

Original article:
September 8, 2013

By Bradley T. Lepper

Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.

Clovis points


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Topic: ancient cooking pot found underground

In advance of the creation of an artisan centre in the federated districts of Bléré-Val-de-Cher, central France, archaeologists have been excavating Neolithic, Antique and Medieval remains. Among the Medieval remains, a well preserved underground refuge chamber was discovered, representing a rare archaeological find.

Refuge of a local elite?

The entrance to the underground refuge was hidden under the floor of a small building on stilts.

The discovery of a ceramic cooking pot in the infill of the underground chamber allows it to be dated to the end of the 11th century. At this time, the Counts of Anjou and Blois were quarrelling over the possession of the Touraine region, where there was a large network of military installations.

The refuge is entered by a staircase dug into the ground and is composed of a network of several hallways and rooms extending along more than fifteen linear metres. It is narrow and low (0.50 m wide on average, and 1.15 to 1.55 m high) and appears to have served as a refuge based on several elements, such as right-angled “elbows” that would have hidden the occupants and slowed down an assailant. The entrance was closed off by a door at the bottom of the staircase, and another protected the access to the three hallways. The chamber could also have been used to store and protect food from looters.

Interior space

The interior contains rather elaborate modifications including twenty niches to hold old lamps, benches carved into the limestone, a small well, fed by the groundwater table and boards to level the ground surface. All of these elements suggest that it could accommodate five or six persons for a prolonged period, possibly a small family unit belonging to the local elite.

Laboratory analyses

A series of laboratory analyses will contribute to the knowledge and understanding of this Medieval site. A pottery specialist will study the sherds and vases recovered from the infill of the underground chamber, a dendrochronologist will determine the date at which the trees were cut down to make the planks and a xylologist will identify their species. Radiometric dates will also be obtained. The traces left by the tools and techniques used to cut the stone will provide information on how the refuge was dug out. All of this data will be used to verify the hypotheses proposed by the archaeologists and help to clarify the age of this exceptional site.

Original article:
past horizons
May 28, 2013



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Topic: ancient recycling

A study at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) reveals that humans from the Upper Palaeolithic Age recycled their stone artefacts to be put to other uses. The study is based on burnt artefacts found in the Molí del Salt site in Tarragona, Spain.

The recycling of stone tools during Prehistoric times has hardly been dealt with due to the difficulties in verifying such practices in archaeological records. Nonetheless, it is possible to find some evidence, as demonstrated in a study published in the ‘Journal of Archaeological Science’.

“In order to identify the recycling, it is necessary to differentiate the two stages of the manipulation sequence of an object: the moment before it is altered and the moment after. The two are separated by an interval in which the artefact has undergone some form of alteration. This is the first time a systematic study of this type has been performed,” as explained to SINC by Manuel Vaquero, researcher at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili.

The archaeologists found a high percentage of burnt remains in the Molí del Salt site (Tarragona), which date back to the end of the Upper Palaeolithic Age some 13,000 years ago. The expert ensures that “we chose these burnt artefacts because they can tell us in a very simple way whether they have been modified after being exposed to fire.”

The results indicate that the recycling of tools was normal during the Upper Palaeolithic Age. However, this practice is not documented in the same way as other types of artefacts. The use of recycled tools was more common for domestic activities and seems to be associated with immediate needs.

Recycling domestic tools

Recycling is linked to expedited behaviour, which means simply shaped and quickly available tools as and when the need arises. Tools used for hunting, like projectile points for instance, were almost never made from recycled artefacts. In contrast, double artefacts (those that combine two tools within the same item) were recycled more often.

“This indicates that a large part of these tools were not conceived from the outset as double artefacts but a single tool was made first and a second was added later when the artefact was recycled,” outlines the researcher. The history of the artefacts and the sequence of changes that they have undergone over time are fundamental in understanding their final morphology.

According to Vaquero, “in terms of the objects, this is mostly important from a cultural value point of view, especially in periods like the Upper Palaeolithic Age, in which it is thought that the sharper the object the sharper the mind.”

Sustainable practices with natural resources

Recycling could have been determinant in hunter-gatherer populations during the Palaeolithic Age if we consider the behaviour of current indigenous populations nowadays.

“It bears economic importance too, since it would have increased the availability of lithic resources, especially during times of scarcity. In addition, it is a relevant factor for interpreting sites because they become not just places to live but also places of resource provision,” states the researcher.

Reusing resources meant that these humans did not have to move around to find raw materials to make their tools, a task that could have taken them far away from camp. “They would simply take an artefact abandoned by those groups who previously inhabited the site.”

Vaquero and the team believe that this practice needs to be borne in mind when analysing the site. “Those populating these areas could have moved objects from where they were originally located. They even could have dug up or removed sediments in search of tools,” highlights the researcher.

Original article:

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Topic: Stone tools

Stone tools, crafted using pressure flaking

Once thought to have originated in Europe, a tool-making technique was in fact used by prehistoric Africans some 75,000 years ago.


  • A highly skilled method of crafting tools and weapons may have originated in Africa, not Europe.
  • Scientists once thought the technique was invented in Europe 20,000 years ago.
  • This new finding dates to the Middle Stone Age, some 75,000 years ago.

Prehistoric people in southern Africa developed a highly skilled way of shaping stones into sharp-edged tools long before Europeans did, suggested a study released Thursday.

A technique known as pressure-flaking, which scientists previously thought was invented in Europe some 20,000 years ago, involves using an animal bone or some other object to exert pressure near the edge of a stone piece and precisely carve out a small flake.

Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder examined stone tools dating from the Middle Stone Age, some 75,000 years ago, from Blombos Cave in what is now South Africa.

The team found that the tools had been made by pressure flaking, whereby a toolmaker would typically first strike a stone with hammer-like tools to give the piece its initial shape, and then refine the blade’s edges and shape its tip.

The technique provides a better means of controlling the sharpness, thickness and overall shape of two-sided tools like spearheads and stone knives, said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and a co-author of the study published in the journal Science.

“Using the pressure flaking technique required strong hands and allowed toolmakers to exert a high degree of control on the final shape and thinness that cannot be achieved by percussion,” Villa said. “This control helped to produce narrower and sharper tool tips.”

To arrive at their conclusion that prehistoric Africans could have been the first to use pressure flaking to make tools, the researchers compared stone points, believed to be spearheads, made of silcrete — quartz grains cemented by silica — from Blombos Cave, and compared them to points that they made themselves by heating and pressure-flaking silcrete collected at the same site.

The similarities between the ancient points and modern replicas led the scientists to conclude that many of the artifacts from Blombos Cave were made by pressure flaking, which scientists previously thought dated from the Upper Paleolithic Solutrean culture in France and Spain, roughly 20,000 years ago.

“This finding is important because it shows that modern humans in South Africa had a sophisticated repertoire of tool-making techniques at a very early time,” said Villa.

The authors speculated that pressure flaking may have been invented in Africa and only later adopted in Europe, Australia and North America.

Original article:



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