Summary | Introduction | Method of Analysis | Sample for analysis | Results of the functional analysis | Analysis of the functional results | Statistical analysis of use-wear data | Ethnographic data | Users | Change in edge angles | Relations between the four phases | Discussion

6.5 Analysis of the functional results

During the ethnographic observation, users were not given selected tasks to do, nor were they all asked to undertake the same work. Rather they were left to themselves to use the tools as they would normally in order to create as 'real' an assemblage as possible.

The results of the use-wear analysis were next compared to the ethnographic data, to assess the success of the 'blind' conclusions, and to determine which variables were most appropriate for determining use.

Table 4. Actual uses of tools v. interpreted hardness of worked materials
  woodcane grassbonerattantree fernbamboovinebutchering animals
soft/medium 1 3 - 2 1 3 2 -
medium 12 6 3 7 3 6 2 1
indeterminate 1 1 - 1 - - 1 1

Table 4 illustrates that the tools were used extensively to work on wood and woody plants such as bamboo, cane grass and tree fern. This was detected in the high-power analysis but the bone working was not. As no experimentally replicated items were available for comparative purposes, it is not possible to say whether the 'woody plants' would be identifiable as a separate group when compared to tools used on wood, or whether they would be individually distinguishable amongst themselves. Animal butchering is a grey area as butchery includes not only cutting through meat (a soft material) but also slicing through bone and articulations (a hard material) (Plates 66–69). This suggests that straightforward correlations between 'soft' traces and animal processing might be simplistic; the traces produced by this work are more likely to be ambiguous.

Plate 66 Plate 67 Plate 68 Plate 69

The tools used in wood-working were almost all identified as being used on medium material while those used on other woody plants were scored as 30% used on soft/medium and 70% on medium materials.

The successful detection of direction of movement, or the way the tools were used, is more difficult to assess. In nearly all cases, the motion is described ethnographically as 'paring', which can best be described as angled cutting. Other ethnographic descriptions include engraving, shaping and carving, all of which were included in the 'cutting' category for comparative purposes. Determination of motion depended largely on the shape and length of the tool's edge. The results suggest that these correlations are too simplistic and a reassessment of how to interpret tool motion is necessary.

Table 5. Actual v. interpreted tool use action
Actual tool movementscuttingparing
Movements detected in use wear analysis  
chopping 1
grooving 2


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Last updated: Wed Oct 8 2003