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Stone Artefacts

An examination of stone artefacts (lithics)

Stone artefacts (also known as “lithics”) are tools that are partially or completely made from stone and show evidence of human use.

Stone tools accumulate various kinds of use-wear and residues that provide information about their design and function. This evidence sheds light on the resources exploited by humans in the past, and can provide information on the evolving interactions of humans and their surroundings over time.

A great deal can be determined from examining stone tools with the naked eye (e.g. the method of tool manufacture and use-wear). Nevertheless, the work of archaeochemists plays a significant role in extracting additional evidence from stone tools (e.g. microscopic residues and ancient biomolecules).

Stone Tools at Liang Bua

The stone artefacts used by Homo floresiensis at Liang Bua and excavated from the Late Pleistocene layers are technologically similar to those used by modern humans (from the Holocene epoch) in terms of the knapping techniques used to make them. Nevertheless, the Homo floresiensis and modern human assemblages vary in terms of raw materials. For example, the most prominent raw material used by Homo floresiensis is silicified tuff, whereas the stone tools used by modern humans were made primarily from chert.

Conversation starter

  • What information can be extracted from stone tools and what role does archaeochemistry play?

  • How might stone tools shed light on why Homo floresiensis went extinct?

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