A Novel Methodological Protocol for Interrogating Palaeolithic Bone Tool Chaîne Opératoires
Bone tools, perishable technologies, proteomics, biomolecular archaeology, ZooMS, African Palaeolithic, human evolution, usewear, traceology, North African LSA, osseous industries, experimental archaeology
My research centers around understanding how bone tools were used by people in the Palaeolithic. Bone tools have often been given less consideration than their stone counterparts, but in many cases bone tools can provide more data on past lifeways. In both the remote past and ethnographic present, bone tools were often used in making perishable crafts. As such, they may be able to serve as a proxy for crafted forms (e.g. textiles, matting, cordage, basketry, leatherwork, etc.) in the absence of the organic technologies they were used to produce. Bone tools can therefore provide an invaluable inductive proxy for otherwise archaeologically invisible materials, and for the people that made them. In pursuit of this, I have developed a novel suite of methods for examining the bone tool chaîne opératoire; this includes the application of proteomic methods (ZooMS), three-dimensional imaging techniques, and the study of ethnographic analogs. Used together, these methods enable a thorough interrogation of tools’ ‘life history’; from construction to use to eventual deposition. In turn, this enables a much higher-resolution understanding of social, cultural, and technological culture in the eponymous “Stone Age”.
Desmond, A. Chapter 13: Bone Industry. In Cemeteries and Sedentism in the later Stone Age of NW Africa: Excavations at Grotte des pigeons, Taforalt, Morocco.Barton, R., Bouzouggar, A., Colcutt, S., & Humphrey, L. (2019).
Desmond, A., Barton, N., Bouzouggar, A., Douka, K., Fernandez, P., Humphrey, L., Morales, J., Turner, E., & Buckley, M. ZooMS identification of bone tools from the North African later Stone Age. Journal of Archaeological Science, 98, 149-157 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2018.08.012