New Perspectives on Old Stones

pp 235-253


Comparing Stone Tool Resharpening Trajectories with the Aid of Elliptical Fourier Analysis

  • Radu IoviţăAffiliated withForschungsbereich Altsteinzeit, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz Email author 

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Resharpening has long played a confusing role in the history of research on lithic variability. In this chapter, I argue that, far from confounding issues of variability, resharpening can be used as a classificatory principle because it reflects human technical choices related to repeated uses of a tool. The advantage that resharpening offers is that of a mathematically suitable study object, through the investigation of shape change along the continuum of size reduction. Building upon a rich history of research in both biology and prehistoric archaeology, I present a variant of a new method for comparing resharpening trajectories, using elliptical Fourier analysis (EFA) and principal components analysis to compare the slopes of allometric regressions. The theoretical presentation is followed by a worked example using bifacial tools from two European Middle Paleolithic sites: Pech de l’Azé I (France) and Buhlen III (Germany).