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Use-wear analysis on quartz and quartzite tools. Methodology and Application: Coudoulous I (Midi-Pyrénées, France)

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The aim of this work is to contribute to the development of a use-wear analysis methodological framework on quartz and quartzite industries. After illustrating the main steps of the analysis, a small part is dedicated to archaeological application on a specimen from the site of Coudulous I (France). The difference lies in the different structure of quartz and quartzite, and in their response to mechanical stress. To understand the behaviour of quartz subjected to mechanical forces originated by its use on various materials (wood, horn, bone and meat), it is essential to create a comparative collection established by the experimental protocol and obtained from a series of tests by controlled parameters. This preliminary step is essential in order to comprehend and identify use-wear traces on archaeological material, which will be compared by analogy with the experimental ones. In the study of use-wear traces, tribochemistry provides us with the guidelines to understand their formation. This discipline, in fact, studies the interaction with surfaces in motion and contact with each other or with a third body. The application of the tribological model to the use-wear traces of quartz and quartzite identified through structured series of experiments has proven very effective for the interpretation of the archaeological evidence.
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International
Conference
on Use-Wear
Analysis
International
Conference
on Use-Wear
Analysis
Use-Wear 2012
Edited by
João Marreiros, Nuno Bicho
and Juan Gibaja Bao
International Conference on Use-Wear Analysis:
Use-Wear 2012
Edited by João Marreiros, Nuno Bicho
and Juan Gibaja Bao
This book first published 2014
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Copyright © 2014 by João Marreiros, Nuno Bicho, Juan Gibaja Bao and
contributors
All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without
the prior permission of the copyright owner.
ISBN (10): 1-4438-6816-7
ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-6816-7
CHAPTER TWELVE
USE-WEAR ANALYSIS ON QUARTZ
AND QUARTZITE TOOLS
METHODOLOGY
AND APPLICATION:
COUDOULOUS I (MIDI-PYRÉNÉES, FRANCE)
FLAVIA VENDITTI
Phd Student, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, I-
00185 ROMA
flavia.venditti@uniroma1.it
Abstract
The aim of this work is to contribute to the development of a use-wear
analysis methodological framework on quartz and quartzite industries.
After illustrating the main steps of the analysis, a small part is dedicated to
archaeological application on a specimen from the site of Coudulous I
(France).
The difference lies in the different structure of quartz and quartzite,
and in their response to mechanical stress.
To understand the behaviour of quartz subjected to mechanical forces
originated by its use on various materials (wood, horn, bone and meat), it
is essential to create a comparative collection established by the
experimental protocol and obtained from a series of tests by controlled
parameters.
This preliminary step is essential in order to comprehend and identify
use-wear traces on archaeological material, which will be compared by
analogy with the experimental ones.
Use-Wear Analysis on Quartz and Quartzite Tools 125
In the study of use-wear traces, tribochemistry provides us with the
guidelines to understand their formation.
This discipline, in fact, studies the interaction with surfaces in motion
and contact with each other or with a third body. The application of the
tribological model to the use-wear traces of quartz and quartzite identified
through structured series of experiments has proven very effective for the
interpretation of the archaeological evidence.
Keywords: Use-wear analysis; methodology; quartz; tribology
1. Introduction
Quartz is the constituent mineral of polycrystalline rocks, and it is
represented by many different varieties, depending on geological origin,
for instance, filonian and hyaline quartz (Fig. 1). Its physicochemical
properties (hardness and insolubility) provide it with a great resistance. On
the other hand, quartzite is a metamorphic rock, mainly composed of
quartz, which can be associated with other minerals. Both quartz and
quartzite were largely exploited during the Palaeolithic period as raw
materials, in particular in contexts where flint or other materials, were not
available, although there are recorded findings of tools made of quartz
from sites located in areas where flint sources where accessible. This is the
case of the French site of Coudoulous I where, within layer 4, several
quartz and flint tools were found in association with numerous bison
(Bison priscus) faunal remains (J. Jaubert et al. 2005). In Europe, the
major areas rich in quartz formations are located across the French-
Cantabrian zone and Portugal. Even though quartz industries are very well
represented these are still poorly examined from a functional point of
view, due to the long and laborious phases of the study, and in particular
the difficulties related to the interpretation of the wear on this specific
material.
2. Methodology
For a correct archaeological interpretation, it is important to carefully
examine the behaviours of quartz through experimentation. Without a
scanning electron microscope (SEM), which is useful to quicken and
improve the analysis, a metallographic microscope equipped with reflected
light and a differential interference contrast system (DIC) can be used
(Igreja De Araujo 2009).
Chapter Eleven
126
The main difficulty in interpreting quartz lies in the fact that, under a
microscope, its natural surface is characterized by traces, originated by the
formation processes of the crystal (Fig. 2); to these latter, in the case of
archaeological implements, all the possible traces also left by post-
depositional events have to be considered.
Fig 1: experimental quartz flake
Use-Wear Analysis on Quartz and Quartzite Tools 127
Fig 2: example of pre-use evidence on a crystal surface
To this end, experimentation was carried out to recreate the rubbing
between the artefacts and the other hard tools within the archaeological
sediment; as a post-depositional event certainly occurred. Two flakes of
equal size were rubbed against each other for 1 hour. The result is a very
strong abrasion that completely destroyed the crystal’s morphology,
leaving several crystal portions still intact. This specific abrasion can
occur in any point of the flake surface and does not produce polish or
rounding of the crystal’s edge. If strong and repeated over time it can give
indications on the movement direction (Fig. 3).
Chapter Eleven
128
Fig 3: crystal surface completely destroyed with two small portion still intact
During the experimental phase it is imperative to analyze the object
under a microscope, although it may appear to be a time consuming and
demanding process.
Using a metallographic microscope it is useful to make a mould of the
entire surface (both ventral and dorsal) with a two-component silicon
(Provil Novo Light Fast), in order to obtain a negative cast of each of the
crystals composing the surface matrix, and to reduce their reflectivity.
Once the experimental activity is concluded, the sample must be
cleaned at first with water and then with demineralized water in an
ultrasonic bath; if dealing with fatty worked materials it may be necessary
to perform a mild chemical washing to eliminate the residues. Once the
sample is dried it is possible to apply the silicon along the edge (including
at least 1.5/2 cm of the surface) to obtain a cast of the edge after its use
(Fig. 4).
Use-Wear Analysis on Quartz and Quartzite Tools 129
Fig 4: cast of the edge made with Provil
During the microscopic examination, it is advised to have both pre-
and post-use silicon casts on the microscope’s stage. This will allow the
crystals that we are comparing to be perfectly lined up (Fig. 5). Thus, the
comparison between the crystals will be immediate and it will ease the
recognition of modifications in the surface before and after use (Fig. 6).
Although long and demanding, this step sharply reduces possible errors
in recognition during the experimental stage.
Both on the archaeological and experimental materials, it is worth
taking note (through a sketch of the object) of the point where the trace
was identified. It is important to remember this step because wear on
quartz has to be searched for on each crystal of the ventral and dorsal
surfaces (not only along the edge) of the tool. Knowing the correct
location of the traces aids thinking about the possible use of the tool and
also reduces the analysis time in case you want to see the same traces later.
Having a good experimental use-wear comparison collection is
essential to achieve a more accurate archaeological interpretation.
Finally, once diagnosed, it is useful to enter the information related to
the analyzed use-wear in a database, including a description of the
topography, texture, colour, direction and morphology, depending on
whether these are abrasions, polishing or striations.
Chapter Eleven
130
Fig 5: pre and post-use casts on the microscope’s stage
Use-Wear Analysis on Quartz and Quartzite Tools 131
Fig 6 (a-f): examples of experimental wear associated to butchering, scraping of
dry skin and cutting of dry wood follows. Fig 6 a,c,e: pre-use ; Fig 6 b,d,f: post-use
3. Application
To understand the ways in which use-wear is produced on quartz and
all materials, we must refer to the discipline that studies the interaction of
surfaces in motion and in contact with each other or with a third
component: tribology (Bartùli 2008) (Fig. 7).
Chapter Eleven
132
Fig 7: tribological system
When quartz comes into contact with the processed material, molecular
interactions are established between the two materials. These latter
interactions create bonds that break due to the activities carried out
(cutting, scraping). In particular, motion produces heat, which breaks the
bonds previously created detaching material from both surfaces (adhesive
wear).
If the mechanical stress continues, the more protruding surface
portions break and, both at a macro and microscopic level fractures on the
crystals are evident (fatigue wear). The materials that detach during both
the mechanism of adhesive and fatigue wear originate abrasive wear,
which produces traces such as abrasions and striations.
Once the abrasion decreases, the process of accumulation (tribochemical
mechanisms) begins. Layers of the amorphous substance, along with the
oxides present in the mineral, compact themselves due to the chemical
interactions favoured by water (present in all materials). The result is a
polishing effect always located in the cavities produced by the abrasion
and often along the edges of the crystals (Venditti 2011).
An accurate experimental protocol allows, through the analysis of the
archaeological material, the obtaining of important information about the
nature of the investigated site, and the activities carried out by its
inhabitants.
It is important to highlight that the experimental work has also led to
the identification of the type of track that cannot be found on
archaeological material.
Use-Wear Analysis on Quartz and Quartzite Tools 133
As opposed to fresh meat, which produces a characteristic and
unequivocal trace, working the thick layer of subcutaneous fat during
skinning, makes the surface of the crystals smooth and very bright. This is
completely different when compared to the same crystals before use,
characterized by a darker colour and covered with micro residues (Fig. 8)
(Venditti 2011).
Therefore, on the archaeological material, with the absence of a
comparison with the pre-use features of the crystals, it is difficult to
distinguish between traces produced by butchering and wear related to
skinning activities.
Butchering activity was recognized on a specimen from the
Palaeolithic site of Coudoulous I (Quercy, France) thanks to this
experimentation.
This carstic hole, joining the Lot and Célé rivers, was used by
Neanderthals as a bison trap between the end of the spring and the
beginning of the summer during the middle Palaeolithic period. (J. Jaubert
et al. 2005). Traces of fresh meat are present on 80% of the analyzed
specimens (Fig. 9) even if traces of wood and dry skin are also present.
The location of the traces on the tool was very useful to reconstruct its
employment.
Chapter Eleven
134
Fig 8: pre (a) and post-use(b) of skinning activities
Use-Wear Analysis on Quartz and Quartzite Tools 135
Fig 9: example of archaeological track associated with butchering on the tool Cs
79 ext c4n4 5110
Although we do not have traceological evidence of handling, a back
knife could instead have been held thanks to a skin support. Traces on the
central part of the tool attributable to contact with dry skin should prove
this. (Venditti 2011; Lemorini-Venditti in press). The use-wear analysis of
Coudoulous I quartz tools was essential to recreate the activities carried
out at the site. Flint tools, although present, were very damaged and
altered by the desilification process due to the continuous passage of water
in the carstic setting.
In these environmental conditions, the physic features of quartz and
quartzite tools have allowed to overtake the alterations preserving their
use-wear. Even if well preserved, on some of these objects we have
observed some strong abrasions due to a post-depositional process,
according with experimental data (Fig. 10).
In conclusion, without a specific analysis on the quartz tools, it would
not have been possible to make any functional reconstruction of the lithic
implements and, more generally, of the nature of the site.
Chapter Eleven
136
Fig 10: example of bright spot on the archaeological tool Cou J 4 2006
Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Jacques Jaubert for the opportunity given me to
undertake the study on quartz and for making the lithic artefacts available.
Also, I would like to thank Cristina Lemorini for her availability and
patience, with which she has followed me during these last years.
References
Araujo Igreja, (de) M., 2009: Use-wear analysis of non-flint stone tools
using DIC microscopy and resin casts: a simple and effective
technique, in recent functional studies on non flint stone tools:
methodological improvements and archaeological inferences.
Proceedings of the workshop 23-25 may 2008, LISBOA
Bartùli, C. 2008: Rivestimenti protettivi per applicazioni tribologiche, XIV
Scuola AIMAT,-Materiali innovativi e nanotecnologie per il Made in
Italy, Ischia Porto (NA) 16-20 luglio 2008
Use-Wear Analysis on Quartz and Quartzite Tools 137
Jaubert, J., Kervazo, B., Bahain, J.-J., Brugal, J.-Ph., Chalard, P.,
Falguères, Ch., Jarry, M., Jeannet, M., Lemorini, C., Louchart, A.,
Maksud, F., Mourre, V., Quinif Y., et Thiébaut, C., 2005 : Coudoulous
I (Tour-de-Faure, Lot), site du Pléistocène moyen en Quercy. Bilan
pluridisciplinaire, pp 227-251
Lemorini .C, Venditti F. (forthcoming): Coudoulous I, couche 4: analyse
fonctionelle de la couche 4, in the Monograph published by J. Jaubert
on Coudoulous I
Venditti F. 2001: Per l’analisi funzionale di manufatti in quarzo. Creazione
di un protocollo sperimentale. Studio funzionale dell’industria litica
proveniente dal sito paleolitico di Coudoulous I (Quercy, France).
Unpublished M.A. Dissertation
... Quartzite, as other "secondary raw materials" like rock crystal (Alonso and Mansur, 1990;Pignat and Plisson, 2000;Plisson, 2008;Lombard, 2011;Fern andez-Marchena, and Oll e, 2016) and rhyolite (McDevit, 1994; Clemente-Conte and Gibaja-Bao, 2009), have always received less attention by use-wear analysts compared to other lithic raw materials from which stone tools were produced in prehistory. In fact, basalt (Richards, 1988;Rodríguez-Rodríguez, 1997e1998;Asryan et al., 2014), obsidian (Mansur-Franchomme, 1988Hurcombe, 1992;Kononenko, 2011), and vein quartz (Beyries and Roche, 1982;Sussman, 1985Sussman, , 1988aSussman, , 1988bFullagar, 1986;Knutsson, 1988aKnutsson, , 1988bPant, 1989;Bracco and Morel, 1998;Derndarsky and Ocklind, 2001;Jaubert et al., 2005;Igreja et al., 2007;Derndarsky, 2009;Eigeland, 2009;Taipale, 2012;Taipale et al., 2014;Venditti, 2014;Knutsson et al., 2015) are much more known regarding use-wear appearance. ...
... The extreme surface irregularities of quartzite, mainly due to its microcrystalline structure and the differential orientation of crystal surfaces, have always been regarded as a major obstacle by usewear analysts (Grace, 1990;Mansur, 1999; Clemente-Conte and Gibaja-Bao, 2009). This difficulty was sometimes overcome by the use of DIC (Differential Interference Contrast) (Igreja, , 2009Cristiani et al., 2009b) and by the observation of the negative silicone moulds (Lemorini et al., 2014;Venditti, 2014) or of the positive resin casts of the artefacts' edges (Banks and Kay, 2003). ...
Article
Sequential experiments were performed with quartzite flakes with the main purpose of monitoring use-wear formation processes. The two main objectives of this research were the construction of a wide reference collection to serve for future functional interpretations of the archaeological material and to achieve a better comprehension of the mechanical behaviour of quartzite when subjected to the stress applied in determined prehistoric tasks (e.g., sawing, scraping bone, wood, etc.).
... Use-wear analysis of the quartz and quartzite industry of layer 4 from Coudoulous 1 (Venditti, 2011(Venditti, , 2014, Part II, chapter 2), based partly on experimentation carried out in the context of the PCR, has enhanced this functional interpretation. On the one hand, it appears to confirm the practice of hunting activities, through the unexpected discovery on two quartz objects of traces which may indicate their use as weapons. ...
... Use-wear analysis of the quartz and quartzite industry of layer 4 from Coudoulous 1 (Venditti, 2011(Venditti, , 2014, Part II, chapter 2), based partly on experimentation carried out in the context of the PCR, has enhanced this functional interpretation. On the one hand, it appears to confirm the practice of hunting activities, through the unexpected discovery on two quartz objects of traces which may indicate their use as weapons. ...
... Use-wear analysis of the quartz and quartzite industry of layer 4 from Coudoulous 1 (Venditti, 2011(Venditti, , 2014, Part II, chapter 2), based partly on experimentation carried out in the context of the PCR, has enhanced this functional interpretation. On the one hand, it appears to confirm the practice of hunting activities, through the unexpected discovery on two quartz objects of traces which may indicate their use as weapons. ...
... Before starting the analysis, we used a two-component silicon (Provil Novo Light Fast) in order to obtain high-definition casts that are free of the high reflectivity of the quartz surface. Although long and demanding, this step sharply reduces possible errors in the recognition of actual use-wear (Venditti, 2014). During the analysis of both experimental and archaeological materials, we used a Metallurgical microscope (Nikon Eclipse ME600) with 10Â, 20Â, 50Â objectives and 10Â oculars, equipped with reflected light and a differential interferencecontrast system (DIC) in order to identify micro traces including abrasions, striae and polish. ...
... Before starting the analysis, we used a two-component silicon (Provil Novo Light Fast) in order to obtain high-definition casts that are free of the high reflectivity of the quartz surface. Although long and demanding, this step sharply reduces possible errors in the recognition of actual use-wear (Venditti, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
The evaluation of the state of preservation of archaeological lithic artefacts is the first step before starting a functional analysis. If lithic artefacts show a variety of damage from many contact materials, they are also subject to modifications from “natural” causes, such as water transport, soil abrasion, trampling etc. Studying alteration features gives us information to reconstruct the life story of lithic tools after their abandonment and helps us to better understand formation processes of archaeological sites.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Use-wear analysis of non-flint stone tools using DIC microscopy and resin casts: a simple and effective technique, in Recent functional studies on non flint stone tools : methodological improvements and archaeological inferences, proceedings of the workshop 23-25 may 2008, LISBOA -Proceedings of the workshop [CD-ROM]. Lisboa (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), 2009.
Use-wear analysis of non-flint stone tools using DIC microscopy and resin casts: a simple and effective technique, in recent functional studies on non flint stone tools: methodological improvements and archaeological inferences Rivestimenti protettivi per applicazioni tribologiche
  • Araujo Bartùli
Araujo Igreja, (de) M., 2009: Use-wear analysis of non-flint stone tools using DIC microscopy and resin casts: a simple and effective technique, in recent functional studies on non flint stone tools: methodological improvements and archaeological inferences. Proceedings of the workshop 23-25 may 2008, LISBOA Bartùli, C. 2008: Rivestimenti protettivi per applicazioni tribologiche, XIV Scuola AIMAT,-Materiali innovativi e nanotecnologie per il Made in Italy, Ischia Porto (NA) 16-20 luglio 2008
forthcoming): Coudoulous I, couche 4: analyse fonctionelle de la couche 4
  • . C Lemorini
  • F Venditti
Lemorini.C, Venditti F. (forthcoming): Coudoulous I, couche 4: analyse fonctionelle de la couche 4, in the Monograph published by J. Jaubert on Coudoulous I
Per l'analisi funzionale di manufatti in quarzo Creazione di un protocollo sperimentale. Studio funzionale dell'industria litica proveniente dal sito paleolitico di Coudoulous I
  • F Venditti
Venditti F. 2001: Per l'analisi funzionale di manufatti in quarzo. Creazione di un protocollo sperimentale. Studio funzionale dell'industria litica proveniente dal sito paleolitico di Coudoulous I (Quercy, France). Unpublished M.A. Dissertation
Creazione di un protocollo sperimentale. Studio funzionale dell'industria litica proveniente dal sito paleolitico di Coudoulous I
  • F Venditti
Venditti F. 2001: Per l'analisi funzionale di manufatti in quarzo. Creazione di un protocollo sperimentale. Studio funzionale dell'industria litica proveniente dal sito paleolitico di Coudoulous I (Quercy, France). Unpublished M.A. Dissertation
Rivestimenti protettivi per applicazioni tribologiche, XIV Scuola AIMAT,-Materiali innovativi e nanotecnologie per il Made in Italy
  • C Bartùli
Bartùli, C. 2008: Rivestimenti protettivi per applicazioni tribologiche, XIV Scuola AIMAT,-Materiali innovativi e nanotecnologie per il Made in Italy, Ischia Porto (NA) 16-20 luglio 2008