This chapter examines use wear on the Cerro Maya collection of manos and metates to investigate what materials were processed on them. Maize processing is generally presumed to be the primary function of ancient Maya manos and metates; however, analysis suggests that these implements were also used to prepare a variety of other products. Use wear analysis documents that a reciprocal, back-and-forth grinding motion is the most efficient way to process maize. However, nonreciprocal rotary movements are also associated with some types of ground stone tools used for nonmaize products. Results of the analysis indicate that a broader range of foods were processed in the Late Preclassic era while maize grinding was the use for manos and metates in Terminal Classic and Postclassic times.
This article presents a comprehensive study of percussive-abrasive active stone tools from Chagyrskaya Cave, using experimental use-wear and statistical methods, supplemented by 3D-modeling. Experiments combined with use- wear analysis allowed us to determine the functions of these tools by comparing the working surfaces and use-wear traces in the Chagyrskaya samples with those in the reference samples. As a result, we identified 19 retouchers, four hammerstones for processing mineral raw materials, and one hammer for splitting bone, which indicates the dominance of secondary processing over primary knapping in the Chagyrskaya lithic assemblage. Using statistical analysis, we traced the differences in the dimensions of the manuports and lithics under study. These artifacts are a promising and underestimated source of information for identifying working operations associated with stone- and bone-processing; moreover, they can provide new data on the functional attribution of sites and the mobility of early hominins.
This work demonstrates the importance of integrating sexual division of labour into the research of the transition to the Neolithic and its social implications. During the spread of the Neolithic in Europe, when migration led to the dispersal of domesticated plants and animals, novel tasks and tools, appear in the archaeological record. By examining the use-wear traces from over 400 stone tools from funerary contexts of the earliest Neolithic in central Europe we provide insights into what tasks could have been carried out by women and men. The results of this analysis are then examined for statistically significant correlations with the osteological, isotopic and other grave good data, informing on sexed-based differences in diet, mobility and symbolism. Our data demonstrate males were buried with stone tools used for woodwork, and butchery, hunting or interpersonal violence, while women with those for the working of animal skins, expanding the range of tasks known to have been carried out. The results also show variation along an east-west cline from Slovakia to eastern France, suggesting that the sexual division of labour (or at least its representation in death) changed as farming spread westwards.
In the last few years, the application of quantitative methods in the field of use wear analysis has grown considerably, involving the use of different techniques. A development in surface measurements approaches has become necessary as standard assessments based upon qualitative functional analysis are often affected by a degree of subjectivity and a limited reproducibility. To advance the current methodological debate on functional analysis of ground stone technology, we present a combined methodological approach, including qualitative and quantitative analyses, applied to the study of experimental sandstone ground stone tools. We test surface quantification at a macro and micro-scale, paired with the observation and description of residue and use wear connected to the processing of plant, animal and mineral matters. Our results provide an exhaustive quantitative dataset concerning surface modifications associated with different uses and suggest an analytical workflow for the functional analysis of both experimental and archaeological ground stone assemblages. We also highlight the limitation and pitfalls of an exclusive adoption of quantitative methods in the study of ancient tool use demonstrating how a synergetic approach can enhance the quality, reproducibility and comparability of functional data.
Lithic use-wear analysis has become a principal approach for interpreting the function of stone tools and inferring human behaviour. This study presents the results of use-wear analysis on lithic tools excavated from the Upper Paleolithic sites of Xiachuan and Chaisi in the southern part of Shanxi Province, North China. In this study, microblades and so-called core-like tools from these two sites were selected for examination by low-power techniques to identify their use patterns. The results suggest that approx. 30% of microblades might have been used mainly to process animal substances, and a lower percentage for vegetal substances. Based on the use-wear evidence, items classified as core-like tools should be regarded as microblade-cores, since they exhibit few traces of utilisation.