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Flake morphology as a record of manual pressure during stone tool production

Key, Alastair J. M., Dunmore, Christopher J., Hatala, Kevin G., Williams-Hatala, Erin Marie (2017) Flake morphology as a record of manual pressure during stone tool production. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 12 . pp. 43-53. ISSN 2352-409X. (doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.01.023) (KAR id:60053)

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Relative to the hominin fossil record there is an abundance of lithic artefacts within Pleistocene sequences. Therefore, stone tools offer an important source of information regarding hominin behaviour and evolution. Here we report on the potential of Oldowan and Acheulean flake artefacts to provide a record of the biomechanical demands placed on the hominin hand during Lower Palaeolithic stone tool production sequences. Specifically, we examine whether the morphometric attributes of stone flakes, removed via hard hammer percussion, preserve correlates of the pressures experienced across the dominant hand of knappers. Results show that although significant and positive relationships exist between flake metrics and manual pressure, these relationships vary significantly between subjects. Indeed, we identify two biomechanically distinct strategies employed by knappers; those that alter their hammerstone grip pressure in relation to flake size and mass and those who consistently exert relatively high manual pressures. All individuals experience relatively high gripping pressure when detaching particularly large flakes. Amongst other results, our data indicate that the distinctive large flake technology associated with the Acheulean techno-complex may be demonstrative of an ability to withstand, and by extension, to exert higher manual pressures. However inferences from smaller flake artefacts, especially, must be treated with caution due to the variable biomechanical strategies employed.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.01.023
Projects: [UNSPECIFIED] In the palm of your hand: A biomechanical study of stone tool design, use, and ergonomics throughout early human evolution
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Alastair Key
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2017 10:04 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Key, Alastair J. M.:
Dunmore, Christopher J.:

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