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What is the use of shaping a tang? Tool use and hafting of tanged tools in the Aterian of Northern Africa

Abstract

We present the results of detailed microscopic examination of tanged tools from the site of Ifri n'Ammar. The rock shelter has a particularly rich and well-preserved stratigraphy that has yielded a large variety of tanged tools, thus offering a possibility to test hypotheses on the possible links between tangs and hafting. Earlier methodological work has demonstrated that patterned wear forms on the non-active part of the tool as the result of hafted tool use, and that the characteristics of the wear traces depend on the exact hafting arrangement used. In the present study, wear analyses were combined with further experiments that involved the hafting of tanged tools with various materials and arrangements and aimed at understanding the development of this important morphological innovation. We suggest that functional data are needed to understand the relevance of the "Aterian tang" for hafting (or use), and whether this innovation was triggered by functional, cultural or environmental factors. 

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Acknowledgements

The authors are indebted to the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement Nr. 312283 (V. Rots). The project at Ifri n’Ammar is a Moroccan-German collaboration, and it is supported by the “Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine du Maroc” (INSAP) and the “Kommission für die Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts” (KAAK). Sonja Tomasso would like to thank Josef Eiwanger and Abdeslam Mikdad for the fruitful field campaigns and collaboration in Morocco. Thanks are also due to Hans-Peter Wittersheim, Johannes Moser, Noora Taipale and Dries Cnuts for their useful comments and support. The authors are grateful to Christian Lepers and Justin Coppe for their help with the experiments. Finally, we would like to thank the reviewers who have helped to improve this paper.

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Tomasso, S., Rots, V. What is the use of shaping a tang? Tool use and hafting of tanged tools in the Aterian of Northern Africa. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 10, 1389–1417 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-016-0448-3

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Keywords

  • Aterian
  • Tang
  • Hafting