Raw materials exploitation in Prehistory:

Sourcing, processing and distribution


10-12 March 2016, Faro - Portugal

APPROACHES TO MEASURE LITHIC RAW MATERIAL QUALITY


Telmo PEREIRA - ICArEHB –University of Algarve, PORTUGAL (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

João MARREIROS - ICArEHB –University of Algarve, PORTUGAL (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Eduardo PAIXÃO - ICArEHB –University of Algarve, PORTUGAL (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


For millions of years, one major reason for raw material selection was, most probably, its quality and suitability for the different intended tasks. Actualistic studies developed in many different parts of the world show that hunter-gatherer communities from present days usually have relatively restricted sets of empirical criteria that allows them to classify a raw material as good or bad.  However, this immaterial information is not clearly available in the archaeological record and might have been different not only from region to region but also through time. Thus, in archaeological and anthropological sciences the inference of lithic raw materials quality has been often subjective and based on criteria more related with knapping abilities than use suitability, which is the opposite of the usual criteria of those present-day communities.

In this session we intend to gather a set of presentations approaching the quality of lithic raw materials through multiple angles and based on high-accurate analysis and measurable data, namely those approaching density, hardness, toughness, resiliency, abrasion, uniformity, elasticity and stiffness using mechanical testing such as Schmidt Hammer, Young’s Modulus, Taber Abrasion, Los Angeles Abrasion Test or others. With this, we expect to bring a considerable input for the construction of a framework for the classification of lithic raw material quality based on absolute criteria and, consequently, reduce in a very considerably amount the subjectivity that presently rules the definition of such relevant feature of lithic raw materials.

In the end, this framework might also be useful to reach the same objective in other raw materials such as different bones within a same species, or bone between species.