African Archaeological Review

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 383–397 | Cite as

Variability in Ethnographic Hidescraper Use among the Hadiya of Ethiopia: Implications for Reduction Analysis

  • Yonatan SahleEmail author
  • Agazi Negash
  • David R. Braun
Original Article


The contemporary use of flaked stone tools provides a rare opportunity to study various aspects of lithic technology. Variables that must be inferred in archaeological contexts can be observed and more easily studied in ethnographic ones. The Hadiya hideworkers of southern Ethiopia, like a few other groups in this region, still retain the tradition of making and using obsidian scrapers on a daily basis for hide-working activities. This ethnoarchaeological study demonstrates how differential access to raw material and the resultant procurement strategies result in intra-group variability in scraper-use intensity. Results show that raw material acquisition costs, which are difficult to identify in archaeological assemblages, represent significant impacts on tool use life and curation.


Ethiopia Ethnoarchaeology Hidescraper Reduction Use life Curation 


L’utilisation actuelle d’outils de pierre taillée offre une précieuse opportunité d’étudier divers aspects de la technologie lithique. Les variables recherchées dans les contextes archéologiques peuvent être observées et plus facilement étudiées en contexte ethnographique. Les populations Hadiya dans le sud de l’Ethiopie, comme quelques autres peuples de la région, fabriquent et utilisent encore quotidiennement des grattoirs en obsidienne pour leurs activités de travail des peaux. Cette étude ethnoarchéologique démontre comment un accès différent à la matière première, et les stratégies d’acquisition qui en résultent, amène une variabilité intragroupe dans l’intensité d’utilisation des grattoirs. Les résultats de cette étude mettent en évidence que les difficultés d’acquisition de la matière première, difficiles à identifier dans les assemblages archéologiques, ont des conséquences significatives sur l’utilisation de l’outil ainsi que l’intensité et la durée de son exploitation.



We thank the Hadiya hideworkers for allowing YS to conduct his field research in their community. Thanks also go to M.J. Shott for initial conversations regarding use life and curation, which form the basis of some of the ideas dealt with in this manuscript. YS thanks the Hadiya Culture & Tourism Bureau for facilitating his field research, and K.J. Weedman-Arthur for her insightful comments. Earlier versions of this manuscript have benefited enormously from critical comments by several anonymous reviewers and the editor. Thanks also to K. Douze for editing our French translation of the abstract. The Paleontological Scientific Trust (PAST) and its Scatterlings of Africa Programs generously provided financial support to this research as part of a bigger project. The University of Cape Town Research Council supported the analytical and writing aspects of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Paleoanthropology & Paleoenvironment ProgramAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia

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