Colleen Bell (left) is a PhD candidate here in the Department of Anthropology. She is seen teaching Emily Tochtrop, a MA student in the department, how to flintknap.
As a part of my course requirement for Independent Study: Micro-wear Analysis class, I needed to create and complete my own micro-wear experiment. I chose to analyze multi-purpose stone tools in order to discover if it is possible to differentiate between multiple use-wear patterns on stone tools in order to determine functionality. Part one of my experiment involved flintknapping my own flakes. Selecting Edward’s Texas sourced chert, I knapped eight flakes using the percussion method.
From the flakes created, eight were selected to perform a series of cutting activities. All flakes were examined and photographed prior to use under high powered and low powered magnification. Four flakes, the control group, were used to cut a piece of hard, dry oak wood using unidirectional, longitudinal motion. One unidirectional motion equaled one stroke. All four flakes were used for a total of 1,000 strokes. The remaining four flakes were selected to perform two cutting activities. First, the flakes were used to cut a piece of hard, dry oak wood for a total of 1,000 strokes. For the second activity, the same four flakes were used to cut a piece of de-boned pork. Each flake was used to cut 1,000 strokes.
Once the cut portion was completed, each flake was examined and photographed using high power and low power magnification.
Under low powered magnification, I observed edge damaged. I concluded from my observations that a series of step fractures occurred during the cutting activity involving wood. On the control sample, these step fractures were formed into sharp points; however, on the multi-purpose tools the step fractures seemed more rounded. It seemed the initial step fractures were created during the wood cutting tasks. When these flakes were used again to cut pork, the sharpness of the step fractures seemed to be smoothed. Using high powered magnification, I observed striation and polish patterns. Unfortunately, the polish formation was too weak on all eight flakes to form a comparison. The striation patterns on the four control flakes were categorized as small and short. Yet, the four multi-purpose tools were observed to have striation patterns of different lengths and sizes. I concluded the length and size differences were a result of cutting the pork. Overall, the results of this experiment showed it is possible to distinguish wear patterns on multi-purpose tools; however, further testing is needed to prove accuracy.