Surface Stone Artifact Scatters, Settlement Patterns, and New Methods for Stone Artifact Analysis

Abstract

Movement and mobility are key properties in understanding what makes us human and so have been foci for archeological studies. Stone artifacts survive in many contexts, providing the potential for understanding landscape use in the past through studies of mobility and settlement pattern. We review the inferential basis for these studies based on archeological practice and anthropological understanding of hunter-gatherer bands. Rather than structured relationships among band size, composition, and mobility, anthropological studies suggest variability in how hunter-gatherer groups were organized. We consider how stone artifact studies may be used to investigate this variability by outlining a geometric approach to stone artifact analysis based on the Cortex Ratio. An archeological case study from Holocene semi-arid Australia allows consideration of the potential of this approach for understanding past landscape use from stone artifact assemblage composition more generally.

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Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the Barkinji people as the Traditional Owners of Country around Rutherfords Creek, and their permission to conduct research there is greatly appreciated. The paper benefitted from discussions with Nicola Stern and the points raised by an anonymous reviewer.

Funding

Funding was provided by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (DP0557439), and Macquarie and University of Auckland research grants to Patricia Fanning and Simon Holdaway, and a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship to Benjamin Davies.

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Holdaway, S.J., Davies, B. Surface Stone Artifact Scatters, Settlement Patterns, and New Methods for Stone Artifact Analysis. J Paleo Arch 3, 612–632 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41982-019-00030-8

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Keywords

  • Lithics
  • Cortex Ratio
  • Landscape
  • Settlement pattern