Updated: November 2, 2018
Experimental research on the Neanderthal musical instrument from Divje babe I cave (Slovenia)
Matija Turk2 and Giuliano Bastiani1
1Museo Storia Naturale "A. Comel", Gorizia, sezione Archeologia Sperimentale (IT);
2National Museum of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Institute of Archaeology, ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana (SI)
In 1995, an unusually perforated femur of a juvenile cave bear was found in the Divje babe I Palaeolithic cave site in western Slovenia. According to its archaeological context and chronostratigraphic position, if made by humans, it could only be attributed to Neanderthals. The crucial question was related to the origin of the holes. These could only have been made either by a carnivore or by human intervention. Results of experimental testing of both hypotheses do not support a carnivore origin of the holes. Experimental piercing on fresh brown bear femurs using metal dentition casts of wolf, hyena, and bear showed, that four holes exactly aligned on the middle of the longitudinal axis of the diaphysis could not be reasonably explained by carnivore action.
Experimental archaeology has proven that morphologically identical holes as in the Neanderthal musical instrument could be made by replicas of stone and bone tools, found in the Mousterian levels of Divje babe I, without leaving any conventional tool marks (i.e. cuts and micro-striations). Recent musical experiments performed on a replica of the reconstructed musical instrument revealed its great musical capability. The procedure of artificial piercing the juvenile bear femur will be practicaly presented.
Keep it in your own backyard: new experimental perspectives on domestic, Iron Age lithic Industries in the northwestern Iberian Peninsula
Martín Cuenca1, María José Martínez González2, Borja Rey Seoane3
1University of Santiago de Compostela (ES);
2GEAAT, University of Vigo (PT);
3University of Santiago de Compostela (ES)
Although both knapped and polished, to a lesser extent, lithic industries traditionally have been given great regard within the archaeological studies of northwestern Iberian Peninsula, mostly focusing on their typologies and the materials used. However, this has not happened with other stone objects, such as rolling stones, that tend to appear in certain prehistoric contexts - especially when they do not show signs of intentional knapping. Thus, we propose the study of a set of pieces of this type coming from an Iron Age context with the objective of categorizing its use, multifunctionality, and importance within the domestic sphere. For this, we will elaborate on the given project in three parts: firstly, carrying out a morpho-typological study based on the existing bibliography, secondly, trying to establish the corresponding ethnoarchaeological equivalents, and, finally, experimenting with the use of utensils of the type proposed in various domestic applications.
Investigating the production of backed points through experimentation: an application to the case study of Riparo Tagliente (VR, Italy)
Nicolò Fasser, Federica Fontana, Davide Visentin
Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici - Sezione di Scienze Preistoriche e Antropologiche, Ferrara (IT)
This work presents the results of an experimental programme focused on the manufacture of Late Palaeolithic backed points. In order to identify the retouch techniques used to produce an archaeological assemblage of backed points from the Late Epigravettian layers of Riparo Tagliente (Verona, North-Eastern Italy) different combinations of retouchers (i.e. lithic vs. organic) and force application modes (i.e. percussion vs. pressure) were tested.
Thanks to a morpho-scopic analysis, it was possible to identify and describe numerous micro- and macroscopic criteria useful for the archaeological identification of retouch techniques. The reliability of these criteria was validated through three different kinds of blind-tests and after comparing archaeological to experimental materials it was possible to attest the use of two retouch techniques. For one of these it was the first identification in an archaeological context.
The Role of Ethnoarchaeology in Experimental Archaeological Sampling Techniques
Alicia Hart Sawyer
Newcastle University; EXARN – Experimental Archaeology Newcastle (UK)
One of the major challenges in experimental archaeology is designing experiments that sufficiently represent the time periods and cultures under investigation and that are scientifically replicable within acceptable tolerance limits. This includes using tools, raw materials, and techniques that would have been available at the time. Often times, the experiments we conduct include traditional skills and techniques that are no longer commonplace in modern societies. It is therefore our responsibility to seek out individuals with experience and a more intimate knowledge of these practices. An additional challenge is using modern day materials, depending on the nature of the materials under investigation; these may not be representative of the resources available in the past. This research examines the intersection of ethnoarchaeology and designing archaeological experiments using modern raw materials, specifically looking at pyrotechnology of the North Atlantic during the early medieval period in order to better understand fuel residues in the archaeological record.
How to understand Australian late Pleistocene scaphopod shell beads use by making and wearing experimentally made shell beads
Fiona Hook (AU)
Scaphopod shell beads were recovered from the late Pleistocene units in Boodie Cave on Barrow Island during the 2013-2015 Barrow Island Archaeological Project excavations. Twelve of these beads were recovered in close association, possibly from a discarded string of beads from a necklace. One of the beads has been directly dated to 10.8 cal BP with the other beads dating to between 22.5 and 6.7 cal BP. The beads exhibit small amounts of edge damage and wear indicting that they were strung and worn. When compared to beads from excavated contexts in the Kimberley (1000 km away), however, the Barrow Island beads show limited wear. In Australia, there is little research into scaphopod beads manufacture and use and the question as to how much the Barrow Island beads had been used can only be addressed through experimental archaeology.
This paper will describe the wear on the Barrow Island scaphopod beads, historically collected beads from the Pilbara and compares that wear to experimentally made and worn scaphopod beads. The experimental bead sets were made using both archaeologically and Aboriginal ethnographically observed bead manufacture techniques. They were then strung on two different fibres in two different configurations. These were then agitated at set intervals and imaged under a microscope to determine how much polishing and edge damage is caused by stringing and wearing scaphopod shell beads. Using all three data sets I will then discuss the implications for the making, use and wearing of scaphopod shell beads by Aboriginal people from Pleistocene to the present.
Experiments in Perishable Materials and Skills: from Land to Hand
University of Exeter (UK)
Experiments with unfamiliar materials and processes are some of the hardest to design as plants and animals have individual, seasonal, and lifetime variations and small changes in the processing sequence can give very different end results. Perishable material culture is also challenging to present as it survives rarely and even then, the materials can be discoloured and fragmentary, with the remains lacking the qualities they held in life. Experimentation offers a rich resource precisely because of these problems as the results of experiments in processing materials, replicating and presenting archaeological finds will demonstrate. Replication of a unique set of early Bronze Age material from Whitehorse Hill, Devon, UK, will show the need for both broad experimentation to underpin decision-making and also the way in which archaeological analyses, craft traditions, and modern techniques such as 3D scanning, can work together. The Whitehorse Hill finds came from a cremation burial with rich goods such as beads made from amber, shale, pottery and tin. The perishable remains included a cattle hair and tin studded braided armband or bracelet, a nettle and hidework textile fragment and a limebast and cattlehair basket. Understanding these objects and replicating them involved knowledge and skills drawing on broad experimentation and detailed work specific to the particular archaeological finds. Examples include many different ways to process nettles (Urtica dioica) and hides and tackling ways of working with hair as a raw material. The crafted replicas and the touchable 3D prints were part of a three month museum exhibition, which was itself an experiment in presentation.
Tisza and Vinča Pottery Technology: an experimental and archaeometric approach
N. Mirković-Marić1, S. Amicone2,3, V. Forte4, A. Memmesheimer2, C. Berthold2
1Borderlands ARISE Project, Intermunicipal Institute for the Heritage Protection Subotica;
2Competence Center Archaeometry-Baden Württemberg, University of Tübingen (CCA-BW) (DE);
3Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UK);
4McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge (UK)
The archaeological site of Gradište Iđoš (Serbia) in the south-central Great Hungarian plain was occupied over a period of 5000 years, from Europe’s first Neolithic to the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age period. Due to its scale and character it is declared as a site of great cultural importance in the national heritage legislation. An ongoing pottery technology project with experts from different fields including ceramic studies, experimental archaeology and archaeometry aims to understand pottery production at the site during the Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic period (5200-4800 BC). This phase is marked by two different material cultures, Vinča and Tisza, often present in the same contexts.
In this presentation we show preliminary results of a pottery pit firing experiment carried out in Serbia, but also lab experiments both based on archaeometric studies of pottery from Idjos. The ceramic samples produced in the pit firing and in the laboratory of the CCA-BW with local raw materials from the same type used in the prehistoric period are compared to the archaeological ceramic using ceramic petrography, XRD and SEM analyses. The main aim of this study is to have a better understanding of the firing techniques employed in the pottery production of the Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic period at this site.
An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of Kiln Firing: a Case Study from Campus Galli
S. Amicone1,2, M. Rogier3, C. Berthold1, T. Kiemle1, P. Sconzo4, L. Morandi5, S. Gur- Arieh6, J. Seidler5; A. Memmesheimer1, M.A. Qarni5, C.E. Miller5, H. Napierala3, K. G. Nickel1
1Competence Center Archaeometry-Baden Württemberg, University of Tübingen (DE);
2Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UK);
3Campus Galli, Archaeological Open-Air Museum Meßkirch (DE);
4Institut für die Kulturen des Alten Orients, University of Tübingen (DE);
5Institut für Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie (INA), University of Tübingen (DE);
6Department of Humanities, CaSEs Research Group, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona (ES)
A kiln firing experiment was run at the Campus Galli Open-Air Museum. The experiment was carried out in collaboration with the Competence Center Archaeometry Baden-Wuerttemberg (University of Tübingen) using an updraft kiln built according to archaeological examples from the Early Medieval Period. Similar kiln constructions were used in different areas and periods, making the results even more interesting. The entire process from the preparation of the raw material to the firing and opening of the kiln was carefully recorded with a particular focus on the study of the raw materials used for pottery making but also fuel usage. The temperatures were monitored employing 12 thermocouples placed at different positions in the combustion and in the firing chamber.
The aim of the experiment was to support archaeometric studies about ceramic pyrotechnology with information about microstructural developments in both kiln structure and sintered ceramics produced in this type of installation. The interdisciplinary approach was applied by a team of scientists from experimental archaeology, archaeometry, geoarchaeology and botany. Our poster reports on the first results and discusses how to improve research strategies for this type of experimental studies with archaeometry.
Mesolithic bone adzes. Experiments with their production and use
Justyna Orłowska, Grzegorz Osipowicz
Institute of Archaeology, Nicolaus Copernicus University (PL)
Heavy-duty bevel-ended tools, such as adzes made from metapodial aurochs (Bos primigenius) bones are commonly found in early Holocene archaeological sites of hunter-gatherers in Europe. The artefacts of this kind represent an interesting indicator of the complex and rich manufacturing output of this time in Europe. The objectives of the presented study were to test possible prehistoric manufacture techniques and tools used for production of this kind of artefacts according to observations of archaeological finds. Also, experimental works associated with usage of prepared replicas were performed. During the experiments, a wide variety of household activities were tested, taking into the account many possible variables, such as: the kind of worked material (soil, wood, hide, ice), the type of activity performed (digging, debarking, hewing, scraping, chiselling) and the duration of work. The effectiveness and suitability of the tools for those varying activities were also examined. The study was complemented with use-wear analysis, which allowed to document and study, all of the technological and use-wear traces. Results of the traceological analyses were correlated with the selected archaeological materials from the Polish Lowland.
Searching for function of the Mesolithic bâtons percés. New experiments, new archaeological data
Institute of Archaeology, Nicolaus Copernicus University (PL)
Objects referred to as bâtons percés represent unique finds in the European Mesolithic. Hypotheses regarding the function of these often richly decorated artefacts have been based so far on theories referring to the earlier products of this type, associated with the Magdalenian culture. They were interpreted, among others as arrows and blades straighteners, picks for forging ice holes, rope tensioners and handles of the throwing weapons. This presentation refers to the results of studies on the function of the Mesolithic bâtons percés, conducted basing on a data obtained by traceological and physico-chemical analysis of the selected artefacts of this type from Poland. They have become a basis for planning and conducting series of experiments, during which, various hypotheses formulated regarding to the function of these tools were tested. It included both, experiments with the use of their blades and holes, as well as the ones that verified the possibility of the post-depositional origin of destructions observed on their blades. The results of the conducted experiments, in conjunction with the results of the microscopic and chemical studies of the artefacts, have allowed to interpret the possible function of this type of products. It was suggested (generally) their possible contact/connection with processing of the siliceous plants.
The work was funded by the scientific projects from the National Science Center (NCN) in Cracow (Poland) no. 2016/23/B/HS3/00689.
An Experimental Glance on Prehistoric Woodworking: the Late Middle Pleistocene Digging Sticks of Poggetti Vecchi (Italy)
Anna Revedin1, Stefano Grimaldi2,3, Silvia Florindi1, Fabio Santaniello2,3, Biancamaria Aranguren4
1Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria; Firenze (IT);
2Università degli Studi di Trento, Dipartimento di Lettere e Filosofia (UNITN); Trento (IT);
3Istituto Italiano di Paleontologia Umana; Anagni (IT);
4Soprintendenza archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio per le province di Siena, Grosseto e Arezzo; Firenze (IT)
In 2012, several wooden artefacts were found in the late Middle Pleistocene open-air site of Poggetti Vecchi (Tuscany, central Italy). These are wooden sticks made of a boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) clearly showing wears produced by human activities. Following ethnographic comparison, the tools may be interpreted as digging sticks, a multipurpose gear commonly used among hunters-gatherers groups. Besides their simple morphology, the Poggetti Vecchi digging sticks show technical features that must be related to a manufacturing process which includes several working stages. An experimental program has been carried out in order to reconstruct the operational sequence performed for the production of these tools. The experiments show a complex of technical choices, different production activities, and a rigid manufacturing process that must be followed from the choice of the wood until the final shaping. Interestingly, the presence of a burnt film on the external surface of the Poggetti Vecchi wooden sticks demonstrates the use of fire during their production; the experiments have confirmed fire was a powerful tool for the production of the tools. This work shed new light on the capabilities of the early Neanderthals to adapt to the environment, widening our knowledge about their woodworking competencies.
The Skuldelev 3 reconstruction, Roar Ege: from reconstruction to retirement
Martin Rodevad Dael and Tríona Sørensen
Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde (DK)
In 1982, the Viking Ship Museum began its first Viking ship reconstruction, the 14 m long coastal transport and trading vessel, Skuldelev 3. Over the next two years, Roar Ege was built at the Museum boatyard and the Roar Ege Project marked the start of a process that would form the core of the Museum’s research endeavours: the experimental archaeological reconstruction of ship and boat finds. Roar Ege was launched in 1984 and after more than 30 years on the water, has many sea miles under its keel. The years have, however, taken their toll on the ship. Roar Ege has undergone several major phases of repair – most recently in 2014. It was hoped this repair would keep Roar Ege in action for several more years but by spring 2016, the ship had deteriorated to such an extent that it was clear that Roar Ege’s sailing days were over. With Roar Ege’s retirement on land, its contribution to maritime experimental archaeological research now enters a new and vital phase. For the first time, we have a complete data set over the lifespan of a reconstructed Viking ship, from the first axe cuts into oak logs in 1982 to the last moments on the water in 2016. The paper will present an object biography of Roar Ege, from the perspective of both the boatbuilder and archaeologist, detailing the manner in which the hull has deteriorated and the components that are involved in its decline. This biography will be compared to the evidence for repair on the original ship-find, exploring the potential this data has for developing an understanding of the prospective lifespan of Viking Age ships, and the materials and resources entailed in maintaining and repairing them throughout their active use.
The Theory of Experience: Why experimental archaeology is an effective tool to understand the past
Scott D. Stull
Department of Anthropology, Ithaca College (US)
Most people recognize that experimental archaeology and open-air museums are an effective tool to learn about the past. This paper will delve into social theory to explain why experience is such an effective means to get a better understanding of past society. Drawing primarily on Anthony Giddens and related theorists, this paper will discuss the foundation of experience in the creation of culture, and how recreating practice is a step toward recreating culture, allowing better interpretations of the past by modern scholars. Examples and discussion will be drawn from research on recreating ceramics and food from the past, including medieval Europe.
Fine Pottery chaîne opératoire from the Bronze Age site of Via Ordiere, Solarolo (RA): experiments on the relationship between surface treatments and function
La Torre Andrea, Giulia Mannino, Alice Zurzolo
Università di Bologna (IT)
The high quantity of pottery sherds unearthed in the Bronze Age village of Via Ordiere (Solarolo, RA), suggested us to discover the technological and functional features beyond the original artifacts. Through macroscopic and archaeometric analysis it has been possible to define some of the ancient pottery main characteristics, such as raw materials and manufacturing techniques (MANNINO, 2018). Although this research underlines the chaîne opératoire steps, its main goal is inspecting the surface treatments chosen and applied to the pots, in order to understand the link between them and the objects function. According to the preliminary lab analysis and thanks to the experimental approaches, we have been able to better define the productive techniques used to realize the pottery artifacts under analysis and reconstruct experimentally the way chosen to shape vases, the treatments applied to surfaces, and the respective instruments used. After the firing of these experimental samples, we have observed through RTI methods the visible traces left on the vases surfaces and we have compared these analyses with the archaeological remains’ ones, in order to create a preliminary comparative database. Finally, we made functional experiments like impermeability tests to suppose which technique could suite the proper function of each shape and treatment (LA TORRE, 2018).
Mining at Pozarrate: applying experimental approaches to understand the Neolithic extraction of flint in the Sierra de Araico (Treviño, Spain)
Mikel Aguirre1, Hugo H. Hernández2, Cristina López-Tascón3, Antonio Tarriño4
1UNED de Bergara (ES);
2Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (UPV/EHU) (ES);
3Universidad de Oviedo (ES);
4Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) (ES).
The aim of this communication is to introduce the scientific works performed in the Sierra de Araico Neolithic Mining Complex, mainly located in the Treviño enclave of Spain, in the Basque-Cantabrian Basin, between Burgos and Álava provinces. This site is unique since it has been used from Prehistory to nowadays to intensively dig out high-quality flint cores. This type of Flint, called Treviño, has had a wide circulation in archaeological sites of the Cantabrian Mountains and Western Pyrenees. The interdisciplinary research applied to this site involves LiDAR prospecting and geological, procurement, typological, technological and functional research related to flint blanks and different mining tools manufactured on the local flint. The research also includes the study of other raw materials, as hammer stone of ophite and antler picks. Different experimentations, related to the comprehension of mining processes, has been carried out in order to clarify the archaeological findings of the site. Particularly, we present the results of (1) an experiment on flint changes produced by contact with fire and (2) an experimentation on the replication, utility and uselife of hammer stone to dig out the flint cores.
The value of mechanised testing for reconstructing use-wear – experimentally alluring, but archaeologically problematic? A case study on replica Bronze Age palstave axes
Miriam Andrews1, Tomas Polcar1, Alistair Pike2, Jo Sofaer2
1National Centre for Advanced Tribology, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton (UK);
2Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton (UK)
There have been few attempts to conduct sequential and highly-controlled experiments in the laboratory, to isolate how wear formation processes propagate on metal artefacts during simulated use. It was the aim of this research, therefore, to establish a multi-method approach to model the progression of surface wear and the appearance of major deformation phenomena on replica palstave axes, for the purpose of clarifying the use-intensity of their prehistoric counterparts. This involved using a drop tower (Instron CEAST 9350) to conduct experiments on replicas with several alloy compositions and post-production processing, to study the sequential development, form, and properties of surface wear and major deformation phenomena, in isolation from interfering variables. The analysis variably included photography, macroscopy, low-power microscopy, high-power microscopy (SEM), microhardness indentation and metallographic techniques. This presentation will critically examine the results produced by the use of the mechanised and sequential approach detailed above. Thus, it will explore the possibility of attaining previously untapped insight by controlled and repeatable testing, as well as the complications of reconciling the results with actualistic testing, and the difficulties associated with transferring the potential of the experimental data onto archaeological specimens, due to issues like sharpening, corrosion, and past conservation practices.
The Arrowheads of the Squared-Mouthed-Pottery Culture: Reconstruction and Shooting Experiment to understand the needs, advantages and problematic of flint
Behnke H. J.1, Sartori M.2, Pedrotti A.2
1Archäotechnisches Zentrum Welzow (DE);
2the Laboratorio Bagolini of the University of Trento (IT)
Basing on archaeological objects from settlement and burial sites of the Squared-Mouthed- Pottery Culture, which in Northern Italy covers the period corresponding to Middle and Late Neolithic (i.e. Fimon-Molino Casarotto, La Vela, Isera-La Torretta), replicas of flint arrowheads will be knapped and shot with the aim of getting a better comprehension and interpretation of the archaeological record itself and of the traces that are left on archaeological findings. Moreover, we would like to investigate the advantages and limitations of the main two types of arrowhead in use within this Culture (with stem and with flat base), to understand the chaînes-operatoires and if this duality is linked to technological choices or is rather a cultural adoption as a result of interaction and exchange with neighboring human groups. The poster will present to the academic community and to the public the whole stages of the experimentation, from the drawing of the concept, to the realization and the evaluation of the results.
Firing the earth: the experimental reconstruction of an ancient Neolithic underground oven of Portonovo (Italy)
Cecilia Conati Barbaro1, Vanessa Forte2 & Alberto Rossi3
1Department of Classics, Sapienza Università di Roma (IT);
2McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge University (UK);
This contribution aims to present the experimental reconstruction of a prehistoric underground oven replicated according to the archaeological structures found in the Early Neolithic site of Portonovo-Fosso Fontanaccia (Ancona-Italy). The archaeological investigations, conducted by the Sapienza University of Rome, identified a number of circular ovens with a single central opening, concentrated on a slope. Although preliminary observations lead to hypothesise that these structures were built by digging the natural sediment, some questions regarding the actual procedure and the amount of time needed, remained unanswered, requiring a dedicated experimental reproduction. An underground oven, measuring 190x180 cm in diameter at the base, 50cm in height, was built in 15 hours digging a sediment compatible with the archaeological context. A kit of wood, flint and hard animal materials’ tools were selected according to the raw materials and plant species available on the site and were used for testing their efficacy. A detailed description of working stages, techniques and tools involved, is discussed in this contribution shedding a new light on building and use of Neolithic structures connected with pyrotechnology.
Basalt hand axes: some techno-experimental reflections on “Mode 2” Diffusion and related environmental constrictions
Giorgio Chelidonio (IT)
When, more than 40 years ago, I started experimenting stone tools’ paleo technologies,“flint knapping” was a wide accepted synonym, as if “flint” had been the main kind of stone used during Lower and Paleolithic. Being, in those years, French scholars (i.e. François Bordes) my only reference, vitreous rocks (such Lessini mountains large outcrops of flint masses, from Maiolica, Oolite and even Eocene formations) were the main raw material I experienced. But in 1980 I was surprised to learn about a basalt hand axe found in Fontana Ranuccio site (Anagni, Latium/I): processed, by direct percussion, on such uncommon raw material, this symmetric (although thick) hand axe was realized in a level attributed to 458 ka BP. But in the following twenty years some others non-African Acheulean sites bearing basalt handaxes were published, such as Gesher Benot Ya’akov (c.a. 790 ka BP), Ubeidya (c.a. 1,4 Ma, where basalt handaxes amount to 30%) and, more recently, the “NBA” site (“North of Bridge Acheulean”, 685±15 ka BP), all of them located in the Israeli Rift. Comparing both the “operative chain” and raw material strategies of the above mentioned sites, some experimental basalt handaxes are discussed.
Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Grotta La Fabbrica (Grosseto, Italy) scaled Pieces in the Light of the experimental Data
Conforti J.1 and Lombardo S.2
1University of Pisa in cooperation with the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis (IT);
2University of Pisa (IT)
In the last 30 years experimental archaeology has provided a huge contribution to the interpretation of lithic artifacts tipologically defined as "scaled pieces". Once considered retouched tools, scaled pieces are currently identified as products-residues of bipolar knapping or result of the use of lithic pieces as wedges/gouges for processing mediumhard organic materials. At Grotta La Fabbrica (Grosseto, Italy), unlike Mousterian, in the Uluzzian and Aurignacian lithic industries scaled pieces are very important. Using the same local raw materials utilized by human groups that populated the cave, we tried to experiment the possible ways to obtain scaled pieces. Whilst we refuse an univocal interpretation of this kind of artifacts, all the elements seem to show that scaled pieces of Grotta La Fabbrica industries are probably products and residues of bipolar knapping. The use of this technique, probably related to the type of raw material supply and the nature of human occupations of the cave, seems to further emphasize the presence of an important discontinuity between the Mousterian and the Upper Paleolithic phases.
Thermal alteration of flint material: experimental observations
Géraldine Fiers1, Éva Halbrucker2, Tim De Kock1, Hans Vandendriessche2, Philippe Crombé2, Veerle Cnudde1
1Pore-scale Processes in Geomaterials Research Group (PProGRess)/UGCT, Department of Geology, Ghent University (BE);
2Research group Prehistory of Europe, Department of Archaeology, Ghent University (BE)
Palaeolithic and Mesolithic lithic assemblages often contain a considerable amount of light to heavily burnt flint artefacts, e.g. as a result of accidental or intentional burning in fire hearths. Often those artefacts experienced sudden rapid heating and extremely high temperatures, unlike what happens with intentional heat treatment. To investigate the influence of such conditions on flint, controlled archaeological experiments were carried out both in laboratory and open air setting. In the first, flint artefacts were heated in a muffle furnace under controlled conditions. In a more realistic environment, i.e. open air setting, the artefacts were positioned at different distances from the centre of the fires. Temperature was monitored using a heat camera and infrared thermometer. This way, the behaviour of flint in the two different settings was examined. The developed methodology allows to study the different transformations in flint material during heating, both at a geochemical and a structural level (e.g. cracks, potlids, colour change). Eventually, the extent to which heating processes affect the preservation of prehistoric use-wear traces will be investigated. This way, a critical assessment can be made of the potential information loss caused by disregarding heated flint artefacts, as is often the case in microwear studies.
Experimental Approach to the Impact Fractures Analysis: an Attempt of Correlation between Impact Fracture Types and Causation on Mousterian Points
University of Ferrara (IT)
Detailed identification and processing of fractures that are made by impact is important for better understanding of stone tools usage and for avoiding their misinterpretation, but without ignoring other use-wear traces. The focus of this research is not establishing the diagnostic impact fractures (DIF-s), but an attempt of establishing the correlation between impact fracture types and their causers using experimental approach. Using Paleolithic way of projecting mode, two types of hunting technologies (thrusting and throwing spears), two types of hafting (vertical and diagonal), and beeswax as an binding material, spears were propelled into a dead animal target (Sus scrofa). Stepterminating fracture represents a problem because it was identified in both delivery and hafting methods, and all possible end point outcomes. Burin-like fracture is mostly present on vertically hafted spears. Hafting Mousterian points diagonally is not functional for thrusting spear-hunting technology. More research with higher experimental samples is needed for more reliable conclusions of factors influencing propagation of impact fractures.
Experiencing knowledge. Construction of earthen mortars in Cremona (Italy)
Alberto Grimoldi and Angelo G. Landi (IT)
Plaster and masonry built with earthen mortar are widespread in vast areas of Italy at least until the middle of the Nineteenth century. In Cremona a research has allowed to characterize the local earthen mortar: the archival and bibliographic examination has followed by a chemical and petrographic analysis and a relief of the different construction techniques: the mixture of earth, sand and quicklime is documented by the archaeological excavations of Roman imperial buildings and its use was attested in buildings of great importance between the medieval age and the 19th century. The collected (theoretical) data were used to define a trial, with the students of the course of “Experimental Archeaology” at the Politecnico di Milano: plaster and some small masonry built with earthen mortar were realized. The trial allowed to better define the method to produce earthen mortar, the quantities and the sequences of row matherials mix, and the consequences on the workability and application of mortar on existing buildings. The continuous comparison between practical experiences and previous research results has allowed us to respond to doubts and, at the same time, arise new questions, yet to be solved. The paper will describe the adpted methods and tools and expose the results of the experimentation, identifying the unresolved issues.
How to burn flint in a Mesolithic way? Experimental insights into thermal damaging of flint artefacts in prehistoric fire-places
Éva Halbrucker1, Géraldine Fiers2, Hans Vandendriessche1, Tim De Kock2, Veerle Cnudde2, Philippe Crombé1
1Department of Archaeology Ghent University (BE)
2Department of Geology Ghent University (BE)
A reasonably large amount of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic artefacts and ecofacts are found burnt in hearths and flint tools are no exception. These tools are mostly discarded from microwear analysis, which potentially causes a significant loss of knowledge about prehistoric life. While heat treatment on flint to increase knappability is currently a quite popular research topic, the effect of burning on the preservation of microwear traces is insufficiently investigated. To study this effect, a protocol for burning used flint tools in an open fire setting was developed in order to achieve slightly, moderately and heavily burnt pieces. Wear traces were analysed before and after burning. The protocol is based on previous work on prehistoric fuels, heat treatment, fire places and residue preservation. Controlled archaeological experiments were carried out using flint tools knapped from four different raw materials used on archaeological sites in NW Belgium during the Mesolithic. Following the microwear analysis of two archaeological sites, Doel- Deurganckdok and Kerkhove-Stuw, the most important activities were replicated, i.e. wood, plant, hide working and butchering. Activities were carried out for two different time durations to be able to examine weakly and well-developed wear traces. In this presentation, we will present the methodology of burning experiments to investigate their impact on the preservation of wear traces from an archaeological and geological point of view.
New experimental Studies on the processing of Fish
Institute of Archaeology, Nicolaus Copernicus University (PL)
Fishes were an important part of a diet of the early Holocene and even earlier communities. Tools related to the processing of this raw material were discovered, among others, at the Neanderthal levels of site Payre in France and at the Mesolithic site in Starr Carr. Fishes were probably caught not only for consumption but also for other materials like bones or hides. The hides obtained from them could have been used for many activities, for example, clothing sewing, container production or as decorative elements. This presentation will introduce the preliminary results of a first stage of an experimental program which has been started recently at the Institute of Archeology Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, aiming to extension of our knowledge about the characteristic of the usage traces typical for tools used to treat this raw material and possible techniques of its processing. The aim of the first stage of experiments was a try to tan the hides of several species of fishes to the condition allowing use for the purposes mentioned above. The fishes were treated with flint blades and flakes. The works were divided into following stages: scaling, cutting the skin and meat, skinning and fleshing by scraping.
Collaborations between Experimental Archaeologists and Historians: Problems and Prospects
Jamie Paxton and Sandy Bardsley
Department of History, Moravian College (US)
Coming to experimental archaeology as historians, beyond the more typical backgrounds of archaeology and anthropology, we are intrigued by the potential of experimental archaeology to shift our narratives about the past. We (along with our students) have quickly become evangelists for the experimental approach, but we are among the few historians drawing on these insights and results. Therefore, our paper examines ways in which experimental archaeologists might better reach and integrate their findings into the discourse of history. Collaboration with historians and history departments at schools and universities, we argue, can help experimental archaeology by demonstrating the legitimacy of the field, broadening its appeal, and justifying its practice. Epistemological debates within experimental archaeology dovetail neatly with similar debates among historians about objectivity and about the nature of historical knowledge. Finding ways to talk more directly to one another, we propose, will enrich both disciplines.
Flint and Fire: Alteration of Tool Surface 0n Micro-Scale
Laboratory of Technological and Functional Analyses of Prehistoric Artefacts ("Sapienza" Università di Roma) (IT) and University of Belgrade (RS)
The idea for this research yield from the use-wear observations of knapped artefacts found in the houses of Mesolithic and Neolithic sites in the Iron Gates region (Serbia). Part of the sampled tools was damaged by fire manifested by different signs of heat treatment like cracks, pits, pores, glossy appearance. Many of the analyzed artefacts were found in the ash places, or in the vicinity of the hearth which explains its condition. Different stages of fire damage were observed and for this reason, conducting the experimental study of qualifying and detecting the heat treatment was necessary. Firstly because of the detection of various stages of thermal alteration and secondly of its impact on use-wear traces, having in mind that some of the traces happened after the fire damage. The study is divided into three stages: observation of the experimental tools before fire treatment, and during the heat treatment, after every session of gradual temperature change controlled in the experimental furnace, and at the end, comparing the results with results of use-wear analysis and data associated with thermal alteration on the archaeological sample. In this way two important parameters are observed; after what time is what kind of alteration created and at which temperature they develop.
Stone & Metal: Experimental reproduction of a stone monument of the Metal Age, between Liguria and Tuscany (Italy)
The Italian region called Lunigiana, today between Liguria and Tuscany, is rich in sandstone statues worked since the third millennium BC until the beginning of the historical period, around the 6th century B.C. Eighty statues have been collected and show stylized male and female characters with some characteristic elements such as weapons or necklaces. In this long period, more than 700 statues of this type are present in Europe. All the “Statue Stele of Lunigiana” are made of sandstone, a sedimentary rock of the upper Oligocene epoch. In the archaeological site of Pontevecchio (Northern Tuscany), in 1905, nine anthropomorphic statues were found lined up, both male and female. The place is a pleasant clearing at the intersection of small streams around a wooded area. In the Archaeological Museum of La Spezia, in 2018 on the occasion of the thirteenth Paleofestival, which I curate since 2005, some operators were asked to represent some daily activities of prehistory to make videos for video guides for the La Spezia museum. I had to take care of the protohistoric ceramics and the “Statue Stele of Lunigiana”, which are mostly collected in this museum and in the Museum at Pontremoli (Northern Tuscany). For the film, I had to perform different activities on different small areas of the stone slab taken just in Pontevecchio site to make the most of the work's philology. I had to explain the various phases during the short recording of the film that would then be mounted in the studio. To realize the new statue I was inspired by the model Pontevecchio5 and I used only tools made with local raw materials such as red jasper instead of the flint that is not in the area. The work seemed initially boring and trivial but instead highlighted some interesting technical aspects in the various activities of transport, roughing, hammering, chiselling, drawing, engraving and polishing.
Between a rock and a hard place: Characterising techno-morphological differences resulting from hand-held, anvil and projectile percussion
Akash Srinivas and Yezad Pardiwalla
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Mohali (IN)
Direct hard-hammer percussion has been the mainstay of percussion techniques employed throughout the Palaeolithic. Even with the advent of more ‘advanced’ techniques, such as the indirect/punch percussion technique and the pressure technique, the direct hard-hammer technique continued as a means of initial processing and debitage of blanks. In this paper, we attempt to characterise the three general variants of direct hard-hammer percussion – hand-held (percussor-in-hand), anvil (core-in-hand or block-on-block) and projectile (thrown). Quartzite clasts, sourced from a common locality, will be subject to the three variants of the direct hardhammer technique, and the resulting core-blanks, percussors and debitage products are studied to understand technological and morphological characteristics of the respective technique. Through this characterisation, it would enable the recognition ;and the distinction of lithic elements from archaeological techno-complexes which were the result of the respective techniques, which are currently labelled as the result of ‘direct hard-hammer percussion’. It would thus provide a better resolution of the available techniques in the repertoire of the prehistoric tool-maker, enabling to achieve a better understanding of their lithic behaviour.
A First Assessment of the Technological and Functional Traces on the Pottery Surface of the Husking Trays
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ES) in joint research with l’Università degli studi di Roma la Sapienza (IT)
The poster focuses on one of the most “international” pottery shapes used by the communities of Northern Mesopotamia during the 7th and the first half of the 6th millennium BC: the so called husking tray. These are large trays made of a coarsely strew-tempered clay with a very wide oval base and low sides. Their most interesting feature is that they show an interior surface characterized by incisions and impressions. Several scholars have suggested various hypotheses about how the husking trays could have been used, but these have remained merely theories until now. Husking trays replicas were carried out and submitted for experimental analysis. As a final result it seems that the husking trays are functional for baking bread. In order to improve our understanding of their function, technological and functional trace analysis have been conducted on the fragments of husking trays, and the present poster will give an insight on the first results obtained.
Differential Pre- and Post-hardening Mass of Loom Weights: a Preliminary Experiment
Emily C. Watt
Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton (UK)
Following the results of Mårtensson et al. (2009) on warp-tension for warp-weighted looms, a question was raised regarding pre- and post-hardening mass of loom weights. The objective of this experiment was to ascertain how much mass the loom weights lost during the hardening process and to suggest how much initial mass of raw material would be required to create the ‘optimum’ dry weight. Traditionally, looms with weights are thought to be a purely European phenomenon, although this could be attributed to poor preservation of the unfired clay weights in an African environment. As such, 70 roughly homogenous discoid weights were moulded, with the shape based on Late European Bronze Age loom weights, which are very similar to those found at Umm Muri, Sudan. The results of the experiment show consistent loss of mass across the loom weights. This implies that the loom weights would have had to have been made heavier than required, in order to attain the proper warp-tension once hardened. Future research could investigate how different clay types lose mass through the hardening process.