Changes in the exploitation of local raw materials in stone tool production as an indication of micro- and macro-level patterns of use of space

  • Author: Katie M. Biittner
  • Topic: Lithic studies,Theory and method
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

The use of non-local, “exotic”, and/or “novel” raw materials in stone tool production is often emphasized by archaeologists as it may allow one to elucidate complex social behaviors including the maintenance and formation of long-distance trade and exchange networks and socio-political boundaries between groups. Often a change from the exploitation of local to non-local materials indicates, or is used to suggest, an increasing level of technological organizational sophistication. Once exotics are recognized in an assemblage, those artifacts constructed out of local resources are underemphasized. In this paper, I will address what it means when only local sources are being used, and further, what it means if the local sources are being exploited differently within and between sites. I argue that understanding the differing use of local resources within a single site over time may assist in identifying transitional sites and assemblages; and that the understanding of patterns of use between sites may be an essential part of identifying small scale socioeconomic and sociopolitical interactions and networks, and importantly the maintenance and formation of boundaries. The selection and use of local raw materials and the implications of using a detailed and specific characterization of these materials, from two Stone Age sites in Tanzania is discussed.

Back to search