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Lithic Debitage

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Copyright: 2001
Trim: 6 x 9
Pages: 279 pp.
Illustrations: 54 illus., 38 tables


Lithic Debitage

Context, Form, Meaning

Edited by William Andrefsky Jr.

Anthropology / Archaeology

Debitage, the by-product flakes and chips from stone tool production, is the most abundant artifact type in prehistoric archaeological sites. For much of the period in which archaeology has employed scientific methodology, debitage has been discarded or ignored as debris. Now archaeologists have begun to recognize its potential to provide information about the kinds of tools produced and the characteristics of the technology being employed. Debitage can even provide clues regarding human organizational systems such as settlement mobility and site functions.

This volume brings together some of the most recent research on debitage analysis and interpretation. It presents stone tool production experiments and offers detailed archaeological investigations for interpreting variability at the individual and collective levels. Although there are a number of volumes that focus on general analysis of lithic artifacts, this is the first volume to address debitage and should be of use to a wide range of archaeological researchers.


Andrew Bradbury, Cultural Resource Analysts, Lexington, Kentucky; Philip Carr, Mississippi State University, Jackson; Jay K. Johnson, University of Mississippi, Oxford; Eric J. Kaldahl, University of Arizona, Tucson; Martin Magne, Parks Canada, Calgary; Albert Pecora, Ohio State University, Columbus; William Prentiss, University of Montana, Missoula; Jeffrey Rasic, Washington State University, Pullman; Kimberly Redman, Alpine Archaeology Consultants, Montrose, Colorado; Philip Shelley, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales; April Sievert, Indiana University, Bloomington; Alan Sullivan, University of Cincinnati; Steve Tomka, University of Texas, San Antonio; Kristen Wenzel, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales; John Whittaker, Grinnell College, Iowa; Karen Wise, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Table of Contents:

Preface and Acknowledgments

I. Historical Perspectives on Debitage Analysis
1. Emerging Directions in Debitage Analysis ~ William Andrefsky Jr.
2. Some Reflections on Debitage Analysis ~ Jay K. Johnson
3. Debitage Analysis as a Scientific Tool for Archaeological Knowledge ~ Martin P. R. Magne

II. Exploring Debitage and Archaeological Contexts
4. Where the Waste Went: A Knappers' Dump at Grasshopper Pueblo ~ John C. Whittaker and Eric J. Kaldahl
5. Alaskan Blade Cores as Specialized Components of Mobile Toolkits: Assessing Design Parameters Toolkit Organization through Debitage Analysis ~ Jeffrey Rasic and William Andrefsky Jr.
6. A Generalized Technology for a Specialized Economy: Archaic Period Chipped Stone at Kilometer 4, Peru ~ April K. Sievert and Karen Wise
7. What Put the Small in the Arctic Small Tool Tradition: Raw Material Constraints on Lithic Technology at the Mosquito Lake Site, Alaska ~ Kristen E. Wenzel and Phillip H. Shelley

III. Detailing Sources of Debitage Variability
8. Flake Debris Analysis, Levels of Production, and the Organizations ~ Philip J. Carr and Andrew P. Bradbury
9. Reliability and Validity of a "Distinctive Assemblage" Typology: Integrating Flake Size and Completeness ~ William C. Prentiss
10. Chipped Stone Tool Production Strategies and Lithic Debris Patterns ~ Albert M. Pecora

IV. Alternate Perspectives to Debitage Variability
11. Holmes's Principle and Beyond: The Case for Renewing Americanist Debitage Analysis ~ Alan P. Sullivan
12. The Effect of Processing Requirements on Reduction Strategies and Tool Form: A New Perspective ~ Steve A. Tomka


Praise and Reviews:

"This book is a gem for those looking for a sound review and new applications of recent American studies of lithic debitage through functional and behavioral ecology lenses."
—American Antiquity

"I highly recommend this book for those new to lithic studies or experienced analysts. For those in hiatus to lithic material studies this book is a necessary review; for those who have been immersed all along its an invigorating 'dip' into the cold, hard reality of leading edge debitage studies. It reveals the evolutionary process of lithic analysis and explores creative ways in both traditional and non-traditional techniques emerge."
—Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology

"This book provides an excellent overview of the state of research into archaeological lithic debitage at the start of the twenty-first millennium.... Nicely produced, attractive, and well organized. The importance of the concepts discussed and the impressive range of applications ensure that it will be consulted by lithic analysts for many years to come."
—Lithic Technology

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