9th Experimental Archaeology Conference abstract – Martin

Relevance of the Sequential Experimentation for Quartz Stone Tools

Sabine Martin

University of Exeter

Quartz is one of the most common raw materials used for the myriad stone tools found throughout the Paleolithic and is present in a variety of geological contexts. Its relative abundance and its poor aptitude for controlled knapping procedures especially when compared to flint have often relegated it to a secondary position as a research interest (e.g. V. Mourre, Master thesis 1994, A. de Lombera 2011). Indeed, quartz presents a network of micro or macro crystalline fractures which are difficult to observe under an optical microscope. That is one reason why this stone industry has not been the object of in-depth use wear analysis studies despite their significant representation in a
number of Palaeolithic sites. However, two different technologies exist to significantly improve the observational qualities of quartz tool surfaces (Knutsson 1988; Sussman 1988; A. Borel et al 2013). First, the optical metallographic microscope associated with a Nomarsky prism allows for a better analysis of the crystal surface based on the differential interference contrast. Secondly, the scanning electron microscope associates high spatial resolution and a large field depth of the surface under examination allowing better observation of surface details.

The main goal of this work is to establish diagnostic features on quartz tools by establishing a reference collection for the interpretation of quartz tools. The aim of this reference collection is to assist in the analysis of the quartz artefacts from the middle and early Paleolithic site of Payre in France and the Gran Dolina in Spain, in relation to the tools use. Thanks to the Scanning electron microscope, we can present here the preliminary results of an attempt to
monitor the process of use-wear formation on quartz stone tools. Sequential experimentation as a methodology was used to provide a better understanding of the formation of use wear on quartz faces produced during specific actions. This type of experimentation makes it possible to observe the sequential formation of each micro wear generation on the cutting-edge (A.Ollé, J-M. Vergès 2008). Preliminary results from the first set of data are encouraging, and the identification of use wear indicative of individual actions on various material types such as bone, skin and wood looks promising.

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