Evaluating Lithic Strategies and Design Criteria

  • Brian Hayden
  • Nora Franco
  • Jim Spafford
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


A wide range of factors has recently been proposed to explain lithic assemblage organization and tool morphology. These factors include: reliability, maintainability, risk, mobility, versatility, and flexibility. Discussion of all these factors has tended to remain on an abstract level with anecdotal analyses or non-lithic ethnographic observations used for support. The present chapter analyzes a complete assemblage from the Interior Plateau of British Coumbia with the aim of trying to explain assemblage organization and tool morphology. Design theory provides a powerful analytical framework for dealing with these problems. Results demonstrate that basic considerations such as requirements of task performance, raw material availability, and processing volumes play the most important roles in determining assemblage organization and morphology. In trying to apply more recently proposed factors to the explanation of tool morphology, we found many of them to be highly ambiguous and perhaps non-operational. In addition, theoretically expected outcomes of these models sometimes did not match archaeological lithic patterns. In other cases, their usefulness seems akin to considerations of “prestige display” in lithics, i.e., most useful as special case factors and most relevant in carefully defined situations (e.g., hunting gear). Nevertheless, all these concepts can be accommodated in a broad design analysis framework, emphasizing constraints, design considerations, and reduction/resharpening strategies.


Design Consideration Stone Tool Edge Angle Task Constraint Lithic Assemblage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Hayden
    • 1
  • Nora Franco
    • 2
  • Jim Spafford
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologySimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  2. 2.Programa de Estudio Prehistoricos (CONICET)Argentina

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