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Bone Tools, Paleolithic

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Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology


“Bone tool” is a generic term used to identify implements made of various animal tissues that include bone, tooth, antler, and ivory. During the Paleolithic (2.6 Ma to ~10,000 BP), these tools took different forms and have been studied by archaeologists to address a variety of questions. Researchers have investigated early purported bone tools in an attempt to identify firm criteria to distinguish between marginally modified or used tools and bones altered by natural causes. Bones interpreted as genuine tools have been investigated to gain a better understanding of early hominin adaptation, technology, and cultural traditions. Different research questions have concerned the emergence and diversification of formal bone tools, defined as functional artifacts shaped with techniques specifically conceived for bony tissue, such as scraping, grinding, grooving, and polishing. For much of the twentieth century, formal bone tools were seen as a technological innovation directly...

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Correspondence to Lucinda Backwell .

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Backwell, L., d’Errico, F. (2014). Bone Tools, Paleolithic. In: Smith, C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer, New York, NY.

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