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Assessing the function of pounding tools in the Early Stone Age: A microscopic approach to the analysis of percussive artefacts from Beds I and II, Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania)

Arroyo, A; de la Torre, I; (2016) Assessing the function of pounding tools in the Early Stone Age: A microscopic approach to the analysis of percussive artefacts from Beds I and II, Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania). Journal of Archaeological Science , 74 pp. 23-34. 10.1016/j.jas.2016.08.003. Green open access

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Abstract

This study explores the function of quartzite pounding tools from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) using microscopic and use wear spatial distribution analysis. A selection of pounding tools from several Bed I and II assemblages excavated by Mary Leakey (1971) were studied under low magnification (<100×), and the microscopic traces developed on their surfaces are described. Experimental data and results obtained from analysis of the archaeological material are compared in order to assess activities in which pounding tools could have been involved. Results show that experimental anvils used for meat processing, nut cracking and/or bone breaking have similar wear patterns as those observed on archaeological percussive artefacts. This is the first time that a microscopic analysis is applied to Early Stone Age pounding artefacts from Olduvai Beds I and II, and this paper highlights the importance that percussive activities played during the Early Pleistocene, suggesting a wider range of activities in addition to knapping and butchering.

Type: Article
Title: Assessing the function of pounding tools in the Early Stone Age: A microscopic approach to the analysis of percussive artefacts from Beds I and II, Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2016.08.003
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2016.08.003
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licenses are available at http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Olduvai Gorge; Battering activities; Pounding tools; Use wear analysis; Early Stone Age
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1514426
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