5th Experimental Archaeology Conference Abstract – Harry Lerner

From the 5th Experimental Archaeology Conference, Reading, 2011.

Raw material inter- and intra-type variability as a factor in use-wear formation: an experimental example from the Northwestern New Mexico.

Dr Harry J Lerner

Department of Anthropology, Brandon University, Canada.

Quantitative approaches to archaeological use-wear analysis have been around for almost fifty years.  During this time at least two general truths have come to light: there is an omnipresent need for greater methodological rigor and use-wear formation is a highly complex process that is still poorly understood.  Two separate analytical approaches are being used in this study to evaluate different yet related aspects of wear formation.  Image analysis is used to assess the horizontal distribution of wear and GIS is used to measure changes in surface microtopography due to wear formation.

Many kinds of lithic raw materials were used during the Late Archaic of northern New Mexico.  Two of the more commonly used ones, Yellow Silicified Wood (YSW) and San Juan Fossiliferous chert (SJF), are used to conduct two series of dry hide scraping experiments designed to measure variations in rates of use-wear formation both within and between raw material types.  The first series of experiments demonstrates that YSW accrued wear more quickly and more homogeneously than did SJF.  The second reveals that YSW exhibited a greater range of variation in use-wear formation rates than did SJF.  These findings have significant implications for how we interpret archaeological wear traces.

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