Prehension and Hafting Traces on Flint Tools

A Methodology

Veerle Rots (Author),

Category: Archaeology

Language: English

DOI: 10.11116/9789461660060

ISBN: 9789461660060

Publication date: March 20, 2013

€52.00 (including 6% VAT)

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The capacity to mount stone tools in or on a handle is considered an important innovation in past human behaviour. The insight to assemble two different materials (organic and inorganic) into a better functioning entity indicates the presence of the required mental capacity and technological expertise. Although the identification of stone tool use based on microscopic analysis was introduced in the 1960s, distinguishing between hand-held and hafted tool use has remained a more difficult issue. This volume introduces a methodology, based on a systematic, in-depth study of prehension and hafting traces on experimental stone artefacts, which allows their recognition in archaeological assemblages. The author proposes a number of distinctive macro- and microscopic wear traits for identifying hand-held and hafted stone tools and for identifying the exact hafting arrangement. Tested hafting arrangements vary according to the articulation between stone tool and handle, and to the raw materials and fixation agents used. Tool uses include various motions and worked materials. This largely experimental investigation concludes in a blind testing of the reliability of the method itself, showing that a wider application of the designed method has the potential to contribute significantly to our understanding of technological changes and evolutions and past human behaviour.

List of figures
List of plates
List of tables (CD-rom)

1. Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Importance for archaeological interpretation

2. Research Methodology
2.1 Research Strategy
2.2 Hafting Arrangements: terminology and classification
2.3 Hafting Materials
2.4 Experimentation
2.5 Method of Analysis

3. Prehension and Hafting Traces: dream or reality?
3.1 Are prehension and hafting traces formed?
3.2 At which stage are hafting traces formed?
3.3 Can hafting wear be distinguished from wear produced by external factors?
3.4 Can hafting wear be distinguished from use-wear?
3.5 Can hafting wear be distinguished from other prehensile wear?
3.6 Does hand-held use result in prehension wear with a recurrent pattern?
3.7 Does hafted use result in hafting wear with a recurrent pattern?
3.8 Are prehension and hafting traces interpretable?
3.9 Conclusion: are prehension and hafting traces a reality?

4. Prehension Traces – Dominant Variable: material worked
4.1 Schist working
4.2 Fire making
4.3 Hide working
4.4 Conclusion

5. Hafting Traces – Dominant Variables I: use motion and material worked
5.1 Influence of use motion on the formation process of hafting traces
5.2 Influence of the material worked on the formation process of hafting traces
5.3 Discussion
5.4 Conclusion

6. Hafting Traces – Dominant Variables II: hafting material and hafting arrangement
6.1 Influence of haft material on the process of hafting trace formation
6.2 Influence of binding material on the formation process of hafting traces
6.3 Influence of hafting arrangement on the formation process of hafting traces
6.4 Influence of use of wrapping on the formation process of hafting traces
6.5 Influence of use of resin on the formation process of hafting traces
6.6 Discussion
6.7 Conclusion

7. Hafting Traces – Secondary Variables
7.1 Raw material coarseness
7.2 Tool morphology
7.3 Retouch
7.4 Use duration
7.5 Tool protrusion from the haft
7.6 Experimenter
7.7 Conclusion

8. Indirect Evidence of Hafting
8.1 Use-wear traces
8.2 Fractures

9. Blind Test
9.1 Results
9.2 Discussion: interpretative potential per method
9.3 Conclusion

10. Discussion
10.1 Relevance of functional studies including hafting
10.2 Examining prehensile wear in practice
10.3 Traits important to include in any wear recording system

11. General Conclusions

ANNEX I: trace attributes
ANNEX II: general table of experiments


Veerle Rots

Veerle Rots is Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research - Flanders and an invited lecturer at the Prehistoric Archaeology Unit of KU Leuven.

In sum, this work is ground breaking-hafting and prehension traces are indeed interpretable. Rots' later work (Rots 2005, 2009, to name but a few), utilizing the methods outlined in this book, demonstrates the significant contributions that this methodology allows, when applied to archaeological assemblages. Rots' methodology is sound and will overcome skeptics. This book is an exceptional reference book for academics and will be of interest primarily to those wishing to pursue wear studies and to experimental practitioners. Any students wishing to not just discover how stone tool was used, but how to set up experiments regarding lithics are encouraged to pick up this text.
Reviewed by ROBBY COPSEY, Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins, University of Southampton, PaleoAnthropology 2011: 197-198

En conclusion, cette monographie a une grande valeur scientifique, augmentée par la publication des résultats des blind tests : ceux-ci sont un moyen de vérification de la méthodologie d'analyse adoptée qui devrait être utilisé plus souvent par les tracéologues.
C. Lemorini, Dep. Scienze dell'Antichità , Université de Rome "Sapienza", Bulletin de la Sodiété préhistorique française, 2011, nr 3

Either way, Rots does develop a compelling argument about differentiation of the prehensile mode of stone tool replicas. This is directly applicable to prehistoric archaeology both as a method and as a manual. It is a much-needed addition to the literature of prehistoric stone tool function and engineering design.
Marvin Kay, University of Arkansas, Journal of Anthropological Research, vol. 67, 2011

The hardcover book is beautifully produced and I have no doubt that it will become a key reference (a must-have) for use-trace specialists interested in exploring composite technologies of Stone Age societies.
MARLIZE LOMBARD, Department of Anthropology and Development Studies, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, Antiquity, volume 85, issue 330, December 2011

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