Attribute Any visible characteristic of an artifact. bending fracture Fracture caused by bending that exceeds the elastic limits of the material. The flake characteristically has the remnants of the biface edge at the striking platform and a lip on the ventral side formed by the bending fracture. It is a common fracture for stone tools used in cutting, chopping, and piercing.
Controlling bending fractures using soft-hammer and punch techniques was a common method of thinning bifaces. biface Artifact chipped or flaked on both faces. billet A tubular-shaped implement associated with soft-hammer flaking, usually of antler or bone, used to create bending fractures to thin bifaces.
Bipolar technology Applying a force to a stone set on a hard anvil. The stone is subjected to forces from the initial blow and a rebound force created by the anvil. blade Flakes removed from a specially prepared core that are over twice as long as they are wide, generally have parallel edges, and one or more longitudinal ridges. blade core Core especially prepared for the removal of blades. blank Term used to describe the beginning or early stage core in stone tool manufacture. A flake blank may be reduced into a uniface or biface tool, depending on the objectives of the flintknapper.
Bulb of percussion Pronounced bulb formed on the interior of a flake immediately beneath a direct impact usually associated with hard-hammer flaking. The bulb is an extension of the Hertzian cone. burin-like removal The removal of a flake from the
Longitudinal or transverse axis of a flake, uniface, or biface. The resulting angle created by the platform and flake facet was once regarded as a burin-like tool for woodworking. This interpretation no longer holds favor since the spall may have been the objective and used as drill bits. A burin-like facet can also be produced by direct impact blows on projectile points. chert Cryptocrystalline rock (sedimentary rock) formed in limestone.
Chalcedony Cryptocrystalline rock similar to chert but differs by having a fibrous structure. Chalcedony, also includes agate, is formed under similar conditions as chert and may be found in the same matrix.
Conchoidal Shell-like characteristics of Hertzian cone fracture. Diagnostic features include cone initiation, bulb of percussion, and wave characteristics created by fracture propagation. cone fracture See Hertzian cone. core The mass from which flakes are removed. cortex The outer rind of a pebble or cobble. cryptocrystalline A class of rocks that have microscopic crystals not visible to the eye; including chert, flint, chalcedony, Novaculite, jasper, among others. debitage The term used to describe wastage from chipped stone manufacture (flakes, shatter). Debitage may also include discarded cores and items broken in manufacture. dorsal The exterior side of a flake that may have flake scars or cortex.
Edge abrader Stone, usually quartzite, used to abrade the edges of a blank or preform to facilitate soft-hammer or punch flaking. end shock Snap fracture that occurs near the middle of a biface caused by a blow struck near one end. eraUiure Tiny flake scar on the bulb of force created by the force waves of impact.
Feather termination A fracture that terminates at the surface of the core creating a very acute and sharp angle. flake Sliver removed from a mass or core.
Flint Common name for chert. Some argue that the only true flint is that at Dover, England, used extensively to make gunflints for the British Colonial Empire. Dover flint is a dark gray to black chert.
Flintknapper An individual who shapes flint or other stone through the process of knapping or lithic reduction, to manufacture stone tools.
Flute Flake removed from the base to create a longitudinal groove on one or both sides of a biface, characteristic of Clovis and Folsom projectile point technologies.
Formal tool Tools made to conform to a specific form or design.
Example: grooved axes, biface projectile points.
Hertzian cone The fracture cone created by a hard hammer striking the surface of cryptocrystalline stone such as chert, obsidian, or Novaculite.
Hard-hammer Using a stone or other similarly hard material to flake cryptocrystalline rocks.
Hinge fracture or termination A fracture that loses its energy and terminates at the surface of a core by reversing its fracture path.
Igneous Rocks formed by volcanic activity. Examples are obsidian, basalt, andesite, dacite, and rhyolite. lipped flake See bending fracture.
Mano (Spanish for hand); in archeology the term for hand stone used with a grinding slab or metate for grinding seeds and other substances.
Metamorphic Rocks that become melted by heat or pressure. Example: quartzite.
Metate Grinding slab used in conjunction with a hand stone or mano.
Novaculite Cryptocrystalliine rock found in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and in the Caballos Formation in the Marathon Uplift in the Big Bend region of Texas. These are the same geological formation and material. obsidian Glassy igneous rock that cools so rapidly that a
Crystalline structure cannot form. Usually occurs in black or gray, but green, burnt sienna, and speckled deposits also occur. overshot or outrepassfi A flake that carries across the core and terminates on the opposite side removing part of the core edge or end.
Preform A late stage in the manufacturing trajectory of a formal stone tool.
Pressure flaking Applying pressure at the edge of a core by using an antler, bone, or some other suitable material to create a bending fracture.
Quartzite A metamorphic rock formed under heat or pressure that fuses quartz sand particles together to form a homogenous mass. quarry Locality where toolstones outcropped and were procured by prehistoric people.
Sedimentary rocks Sediments such as silts, clays, and sands become compacted in the ocean floor and become solidified into sedimentary rocks. Example: limestone, siltstone, sandstone. soft hammer A percussion tool that is softer than the material being flaked. causing a bending fracture rather than a cone-initiation fracture characteristics on flakes. step fracture or termination Results when a flake detached from the core is pulled away too rapidly; the flake will bend beyond its elastic limit and snap before it terminates. striking platform The surface from which the blow to remove a flake is struck. Striking platforms on flakes are described by the nature of this surface, cortex, single faceted, multiple faceted. terminations How the fracture path of a flake ends, includes feature, hinge, step, and overshot. uniface Artifact flaked or chipped on only one face. ventral The bulbar or interior side of a flake. wedge fracture (see bipolar) Created by bi-polar impact where force is generated from two directions, from the hammer and from the anvil. Fracture may propagate around the cone splitting the core into multiple pieces.
Problems basic to human survival. Tools used to perform tasks often reveal what those tasks were, and knowing something about what ancient people did can tell us how they lived. Stone tools preserve longer than any other material made and used by human hands. Much of human history and culture is read in stone artifacts. Of all classes of material culture produced by humans through the ages, stone artifacts are the most likely to survive the ravages of nature. Chipped stone tools provide the earliest evidence of human technologies in our human past, dating back perhaps as early as 2.5 million years ago. Tracing the evolution of stone technology provides a scale with which archaeologists can measure human technological evolution. Methods and techniques of making stone tools, tool types, and styles of the tools changed over time. Raw material selection based on the size and quality of material suitable for stone tool manufacture was a critical variable in how and why the stone was reduced. The various methods of making stone tools, tools used in the manufacture, the manufactured product, approaches and style of reduction, manufacturing trajectories and reduction systems, failures, and wastage (debitage) are topics discussed.
The term lithics is derived from the Greek word lithos meaning stone. This natural material comes in many different forms and is created by three geological processes that serve to classify all rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Certain rocks in each of these classes were used to make chipped and ground stone tools. It is important to distinguish the types of stones chosen to be altered into tools because these classes of rocks have different qualities and are not uniformly distributed across the landscape. People had to use their technological expertise to adapt to the various kinds and sizes of stones available in their environment, or develop social networks to acquire good material. Unusually high quality stones such as obsidian or fine chert were highly sought after and sometimes considerable effort went into obtaining access. Alternatively, it was necessary to alter the available stone by annealing to create a more suitable material for chipped stone tools. The approach to reducing stone into a tool depended upon a number of factors: the kind, size, and quality of raw material, kind of tool, tool size, tool form, and tool style. How one learned to make stone tools, or the technological style, was an important component of the reduction system as well (see Lithics: Analysis, Use Wear).