Anthropology | Paleolithic Technology Lab
P385 | 23512 | Sievert
This course carries N & M distribution credit.
Prerequisite - Anth P200, an upper level Archaeology Course, or
permission of instructor
For more than 2 million years, people have depended on stone to make
durable tools. What were these earliest stone tools like? Who made
them and why? How did stone technology give early humans an edge over
other tool-using primates? How did these tools change over time and
what are they capable of accomplishing? How did the tools of
Neandertals compare with those of more recent humans?
This course explores the answers to these and other questions of
technological change by targeting the methods that archaeologists use
to understand and interpret stone tool manufacture,use and meaning.
In this course you will learn how to interpret lithic technology by
studying stone tool morphology and function. The course is divided
into three parts
Part I. Stone tool technology. Learn about different kinds of stone,
the material properties of stone, and the basic techniques for making
tools from stone.
Part II. Chronology. Learn about technological change during the
Lower, Middle, and Upper Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) periods. Examine,
draw and analyze stone tools. Learn about classification and typology.
Discuss reasons for different tool shapes and features that develop
during the Paleolithic. Examine the changes in tool use that accompany
the end of the Ice Ages and the beginnings of agriculture, when
functional needs change.
Part III. Function and interpretation. Learn about how archaeologists
decide how tools were used. Experiment with using stone tools, and learn
about the traces left on stone tools through use. Review and reflect
on the importance of understanding stone technology in the context of
archaeological research. Ponder the meanings that we can glean from
There will be readings from texts, and handouts distributed during
class, or available on e-reserve. Your texts include:
Whittaker, J. 1994 Flintknapping: Making and Using Stone Tools,
University of Texas Press, Austin.
K. Schick. and N. Toth, 1994 reprint edition Making Silent Stones
Speak. Touchstone Books.
Plus articles on e-reserve
This is a practical hands-on course. There will be some talk (lecture
and discussion), a few films, slides, demonstrations, and lots of time
spent in looking at tools. Your grade comes from a lab journal that
you will keep throughout the course (50%). This will be graded
periodically. Tests (50%) make up for the rest of the grade. There
will be a test at the end of Parts I, II & III.