Experimental approaches to the development of use-wear traces on volcanic rocks: basalts

Abstract

In this paper we present the experimental results obtained for the formation of use-wear traces on four types of basalt rocks from the Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) and one from the Deba River (Spain). The objective of this study is to create a reference collection that will allow the posterior analysis and identification of archeological use-wear traces on lithic industries made on these different types of basalt, such as the Acheulean lithic industry from Thiongo Korongo site (TK) (Olduvai’s Bed II, ca. 1.353 ± 0.035 Ma.). This study includes five types of basalt, under the objective of understanding in more detail the formation of the use-wear traces. Additionally, we include their individual petrographic, chemical, and traceological interpretations, allowing for an assessment of the intrinsic characteristics in relation to the development of use-wear. The final step of this process includes microscopic analysis for the detailed characterization and description of these use-wear traces. The results obtained reveal the internal structure of basalts as a significant conditioning factor in the development of use-wear traces. Despite this, we have been able to establish several criteria that discriminate between actions and different worked materials. These results offer a fundamental experimental basis for the future interpretation of use-wear traces found in archeological basalts.

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Acknowledgments

We want to thank C. Saínz, A. Álvaro Gallo, and I. Sarró from Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Huamana for their help and the facilities provided to carry out the petrographic study. We wish to express our gratitude to A. San Emeterio, CENIEH Prehistoric Technology and Archaeology Laboratory technique, for the help given in the photographic section and processed from it. At the same time, we thank Lloyd Courtenay for his help with English translation and also to the reviewers for their positive contributions to this work. We also want to take advantage this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the Tanzanian assistants, especially Lobelo, Enguiliya, and Lovico, who have always helped us in the butchering activities. Our work was carried out in the framework of The Olduvai Paleoanthropological and Paleoecological Project (TOPPP).

Funding

The Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology provided funding for this research (Projects HAR2013-45246-C3-2-P and HAR2017-82463-C4-2-P).

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Correspondence to Patricia Bello-Alonso.

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Bello-Alonso, P., Rios-Garaizar, J., Panera, J. et al. Experimental approaches to the development of use-wear traces on volcanic rocks: basalts. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 12, 128 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-020-01058-6

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Keywords

  • Use-wear
  • Reference collection
  • Basalts
  • Olduvai Gorge