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Thermal engineering of stone increased prehistoric toolmaking skill.

Published on Oct 10, 2019in Scientific Reports4.011
· DOI :10.1038/S41598-019-51139-3
Veronica Mraz2
Estimated H-index: 2
(TU: University of Tulsa),
Mike Fisch1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology)
+ 2 AuthorsBriggs Buchanan24
Estimated H-index: 24
(TU: University of Tulsa)
Sources
Abstract
Intentional heat treating of toolstone has been documented to have begun at least by 70 K BP; however, the advantages of such treatment have been debated for decades. There are two schools of thought with regard to its purpose. One, is that it merely reduces the force required for flake propagation. A second is that it also alters flake morphological properties. We systematically tested these hypotheses by generating flakes from cores exposed to three different temperatures (ambient, 300 °C, and 350 °C) using automated propagation procedures that bypassed any human agency. While the force propagation magnitude is altered by heat treatment, the flakes were not. We examined these flakes according to nine measures of morphology. None differed significantly or systematically within the three categories. While our results confirm that heat treatment does reduce the force needed for flake propagation, they also demonstrate that such treatment has no significant effect on major morphological aspects of flake form.
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  • Citations (3)
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References68
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#1Patrick Schmidt (University of Tübingen)H-Index: 14
#2Gerald Buck (University of Tübingen)H-Index: 3
Last. Klaus G. Nickel (University of Tübingen)H-Index: 31
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In archaeology, heat treatment of stone is the process of “making” a new material for tool production. Its invention in the African Middle Stone Age was an important step in the evolution of transformative technologies and the cultural evolution of early humans in general. Although the chemical and crystallographic transformations in silica rocks, the only material class heat-treated in the Stone Age, begin to be well known, many of the mechanical transformations and their chemical origins remai...
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#1Sam C. Lin (UOW: University of Wollongong)H-Index: 13
#2Zeljko Rezek (MPG: Max Planck Society)H-Index: 9
Last. Harold L. Dibble (ASU: Arizona State University)H-Index: 36
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Lithic researchers rely heavily on experimentation to infer past behaviors and activities based on stone artifacts. This paper explores the analogical nature of archaeological inference and the relationship between experimental design and inference validity in stone artifact experimentation. We show that actualistic flintknapping lacks vital aspects of scientific experimentation, and thus has inherent inferential issues of analogical adequacy and confidence. It is argued that a greater emphasis ...
12 CitationsSource
#1George M. Leader (TCNJ: The College of New Jersey)H-Index: 4
#2Aylar Abdolahzadeh (UPenn: University of Pennsylvania)H-Index: 1
Last. Harold L. Dibble (ASU: Arizona State University)H-Index: 36
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Abstract There are many ways by which knappers can influence the morphology of the flakes they produce. This article presents the results of a set of controlled experiments designed to isolate and describe the effects of platform beveling, or the removal of material from either the exterior portion of platform surface or laterally adjacent to it. We show that there is a relationship between various aspects of flake morphology, including both size and shape, and the location, shape, and depth of ...
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#1Patrick Schmidt (University of Tübingen)H-Index: 14
#2Christoph Lauer (University of Tübingen)H-Index: 5
Last. Klaus G. Nickel (University of Tübingen)H-Index: 31
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In archaeology, lithic heat treatment is the process of modifying a rock for stone tool production using fire. Although the earliest known cases of heat treatment come from South Africa and involved silcrete, a microcrystalline pedogenic silica rock, its thermal transformations remain poorly understood. We investigate the ‘water’-related transformations in silcrete using direct transmission near-infrared spectroscopy. We found that SiOH is noticeably lost between 250 and 450 °C and hydroxyl reac...
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#1Anne Delagnes (University of Bordeaux)H-Index: 24
#2Patrick Schmidt (University of Tübingen)H-Index: 14
Last. Christopher S. Henshilwood (University of Bergen)H-Index: 32
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Heating stone to enhance its flaking qualities is among the multiple innovative adaptations introduced by early modern human groups in southern Africa, in particular during the Middle Stone Age Still Bay and Howiesons Poort traditions. Comparatively little is known about the role and impact of this technology on early modern human behaviors and cultural expressions, due, in part, to the lack of comprehensive studies of archaeological assemblages documenting the heat treatment of stone. We addres...
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#1Briggs BuchananH-Index: 24
#2Veronica MrazH-Index: 2
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Identifying stone tool production techniques in the archaeological record can inform on prehistoric economy, time budgets, shared cultural practices, and the spatiotemporal occurrence of technological innovations and adaptations. The pressure flaking technique is one such innovation that appears on every continent Homo sapiens colonized. Pressure flaking has long been associated with the ability of flintknappers to produce small, regularly shaped flakes that were used to maintain particular edge...
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#1Zeljko Rezek (MPG: Max Planck Society)H-Index: 9
#2Sam C. Lin (MPG: Max Planck Society)H-Index: 13
Last. Harold L. Dibble (MPG: Max Planck Society)H-Index: 36
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#1Liisa M. Pelttari (UH: University of Helsinki)H-Index: 20
#2Sofia Khan (UH: University of Helsinki)H-Index: 27
Last. Heli NevanlinnaH-Index: 81
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Common variation on 14q24.1, close to RAD51B, has been associated with breast cancer: rs999737 and rs2588809 with the risk of female breast cancer and rs1314913 with the risk of male breast cancer. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of RAD51B variants in breast cancer predisposition, particularly in the context of familial breast cancer in Finland. We sequenced the coding region of RAD51B in 168 Finnish breast cancer patients from the Helsinki region for identification of possible...
228 CitationsSource
#1Patrick Schmidt (University of Tübingen)H-Index: 14
#2Alex Mackay (UCT: University of Cape Town)H-Index: 18
People heat treated silcrete during the Middle Stone Age (MSA) in southern Africa but the spatial and temporal variability of this practice remains poorly documented. This paucity of data in turn makes it difficult to interrogate the motive factors underlying the application of this technique. In this paper we present data on heat treatment of silcrete through the Howiesons Poort and post-Howiesons Poort of the rock shelter site Mertenhof, located in the Western Cape of South Africa. In contrast...
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The first question to be asked about the heat-treatment of flint and other similar siliceous material is “Why bother if they can be shaped without heating?” The simple reason for heat-treatment of flint and other minerals of the same family is that the process in many cases drastically improves the quality of the material making it easier and more predict- able to work. In some instances, treatment can produce an incredible difference between the original quality and that of the treated material...
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#1Justin Pargeter (NYU: New York University)H-Index: 12
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Abstract Stone tools provide some of the best remaining evidence of behavioral change over long periods, but their cognitive and evolutionary implications remain poorly understood. Here, we contribute to a growing body of experimental research on the cognitive and perceptual-motor foundations of stone toolmaking skills by using a flake prediction paradigm to assess the relative importance of technological understanding vs. accurate action execution in Late Acheulean–style handaxe production. Thi...
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#1Ivan CalandraH-Index: 11
#2Walter GneisingerH-Index: 3
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Experimentation has always played an important role in archeology, in particular to create reference collections for use-wear studies. Different types of experiments can answer different questions;...
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#1Justin Pargeter (UJ: University of Johannesburg)H-Index: 1
#1Justin Pargeter (UJ: University of Johannesburg)H-Index: 12
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Abstract Intentional stone heat treatment is a key marker for prehistoric behavioural variability. Yet, the relationship between differences in heat-treatment strategies and variations in stone tool-making processes remains heavily debated and poorly understood. We report on two experiments testing wood fuels and heating strategies applied to silcrete nodules from ~60 km south of Diepkloof Rock shelter in South Africa with early evidence for intentional silcrete heat treatment. We flaked the hea...
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