The manner of tool use was not intended to replicate ancient human actions as part of an actualistic experiment, but rather to ensure residue deposition on flakes prior to taphonomic alteration following burial. Flint flakes (n = 78) were produced and divided into six experimental groups, each group containing 13 flakes. A single flake in each group was used to work one of twelve different types of material (plant, animal, and mineral) in order to produce residues that could be seen with the unaided eye (Table 2, Figure 2). Cutting motions were the main movements used during residue accruement, but the resin and powdered red ochre were directly applied to the flint (see Table 2). The thirteenth flake in each group was left unused as a control. In addition, a seventh group, left unburied, was prepared as a comparative reference collection with the same twelve residues. Only tasks of short duration were conducted – tools were only used long enough to leave visible residues. In retrospect, the short duration of use may have had an impact on residue preservation status; materials worked for longer periods have a higher chance of the residues adhering and embedding in the flint surface, perhaps in protected microenvironments such as microcracks (Shanks et al. 2004). All flakes in groups one to six were buried in three burial conditions and recovered at two time intervals: 1 month and 11 months. Of course, the length of burial in the experiment is not comparable to archaeological time scales. Nevertheless, preservation of residues on a short time scale is logically a precondition of their preservation for longer periods.
Internet Archaeology is an open access journal. Except where otherwise noted, content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) Unported licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that attribution to the author(s), the title of the work, the Internet Archaeology journal and the relevant URL/DOI are given.
Internet Archaeology content is preserved for the long term with the Archaeology Data Service. Help sustain and support open access publication by donating to our Open Access Archaeology Fund.