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The role of controlled experiments in understanding variation in flake production

Chapter


Abstract


  • Understanding chipped-stone technology essentially comes down to understanding how a

    single flake is made. Even though a knapper may remove many flakes to prepare a core or

    shape a piece, thin it, or modify its edges, each and every one of these removals requires a

    certain degree of control so that particular effects are achieved. While there is currently an

    emphasis in lithic analysis on reconstructing the totality of various reduction sequences (e.g.,

    see Olszewski, chapter 4, this volume; Rollefson, chapter 10, this volume), we still have much

    to learn about how individual flakes are formed. In order to quantify the various mechanical

    aspects of flake production, a number of researchers have designed experiments under highly

    controlled conditions, often using shaped cores and mechanical strikers. These types of

    experiments allow control over several aspects of flaking, from the angle and force of the blow

    and type of hammer used to various core surface and platform morphologies. In this way, it is

    possible to study in a very detailed fashion the effects of particular independent variables on

    flake morphology. Such experiments are called “controlled experiments” because their goal is

    to control as many as possible of the variables involved with knapping in order to isolate the

    effects of a single variable. Because of the design of these kinds of experiments, such controls

    are much tighter than is generally possible with replicative flint-knapping experiments, and the

    results are clearly more amenable to quantification. On the other hand, the downside of many

    controlled experiments is that the processes and products do not always accurately simulate

    archaeological ones. This artificial nature inherent to many controlled experiments has often

    made it difficult to apply the results directly to archaeological materials.

UOW Authors


  •   Rezek, Zeljko (external author)
  •   Lin, Sam
  •   Dibble, Harold L. (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Rezek, Z., Lin, S. & Dibble, H. L. (2016). The role of controlled experiments in understanding variation in flake production. In A. P. Sullivan & D. I. Olszewski (Eds.), Archaeological Variability and Interpretation in Global Perspective (pp. 307-320). Boulder, United States: University Press of Colorado.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9781607324935

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85012846289

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/4556

Book Title


  • Archaeological Variability and Interpretation in Global Perspective

Start Page


  • 307

End Page


  • 320

Place Of Publication


  • Boulder, United States

Abstract


  • Understanding chipped-stone technology essentially comes down to understanding how a

    single flake is made. Even though a knapper may remove many flakes to prepare a core or

    shape a piece, thin it, or modify its edges, each and every one of these removals requires a

    certain degree of control so that particular effects are achieved. While there is currently an

    emphasis in lithic analysis on reconstructing the totality of various reduction sequences (e.g.,

    see Olszewski, chapter 4, this volume; Rollefson, chapter 10, this volume), we still have much

    to learn about how individual flakes are formed. In order to quantify the various mechanical

    aspects of flake production, a number of researchers have designed experiments under highly

    controlled conditions, often using shaped cores and mechanical strikers. These types of

    experiments allow control over several aspects of flaking, from the angle and force of the blow

    and type of hammer used to various core surface and platform morphologies. In this way, it is

    possible to study in a very detailed fashion the effects of particular independent variables on

    flake morphology. Such experiments are called “controlled experiments” because their goal is

    to control as many as possible of the variables involved with knapping in order to isolate the

    effects of a single variable. Because of the design of these kinds of experiments, such controls

    are much tighter than is generally possible with replicative flint-knapping experiments, and the

    results are clearly more amenable to quantification. On the other hand, the downside of many

    controlled experiments is that the processes and products do not always accurately simulate

    archaeological ones. This artificial nature inherent to many controlled experiments has often

    made it difficult to apply the results directly to archaeological materials.

UOW Authors


  •   Rezek, Zeljko (external author)
  •   Lin, Sam
  •   Dibble, Harold L. (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Rezek, Z., Lin, S. & Dibble, H. L. (2016). The role of controlled experiments in understanding variation in flake production. In A. P. Sullivan & D. I. Olszewski (Eds.), Archaeological Variability and Interpretation in Global Perspective (pp. 307-320). Boulder, United States: University Press of Colorado.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9781607324935

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85012846289

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/4556

Book Title


  • Archaeological Variability and Interpretation in Global Perspective

Start Page


  • 307

End Page


  • 320

Place Of Publication


  • Boulder, United States