Anthropology | PALEOLITHIC TECHNOLOGY LAB
P385 | 0434 | Sievert
For more than 2 million years, humans and their ancestors depended on
stone to make durable tools-in other words, the Stone Age. 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 anatomically modern 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 and use.
In this course you will learn how to interpret lithic technology by
studying stone tool morphology and function. The course is divided into
Part I. Stone tool technology. Learn about different kinds of stone, the
material properties of stone, and the basic techniques for making tools
Part II. Chronology. Learn about technological change during the Lower,
Middle, and Upper Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) periods. Examine, draw and
analyze stone tools from sites in Africa, Europe and elsewhere. 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 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
There will be readings from texts, and handouts distributed during class,
or available on reserve. Your texts include:
Andrefsky, W. 1998 Lithics: Macroscopic Approaches to Analysis. Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge.
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
Debnath, A. and H. Dibble. 1994 Handbook of Paleolithic Technology.
University of Pennsylvania Press. (optional).
Format and Requirements
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 (55%). This will be graded periodically. Tests
(45%) make up for the rest of the grade. There will be a test at the end
of Parts I & III, and smaller tests throughout Part II.