Thesis abstract ‘Microdebitage and the Archaeology of Rock Art: An Experimental Approach’

22nd November 2013

George J. Susino

MSc, Department of Archaeology, University of Sydney, Sydney, October 1999

The search for a reliable and non-invasive technique for the dating of rock art has produced an array of different, localised, and limited techniques. Still in its experimental stage, the recognition of quartz microdebitage surface features produced by the pecking of engravings is the aim of this research. The investigation established that microdebitage from rock engravings can be distinguished from other sedimentary material. Analysis of microdebitage derived from the experimental manufacture of rock engravings was used to determine the difference between lithic debris and naturally derived particles. This study discusses methodologies and applications for the recognition of quartz grain surface features, derived from experimental and natural material from Mutawintji National Park (Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia) and the Sydney region (New South Wales, Australia).

Microdebitage from experimental rock engravings was examined using optical and scanning electron microscopy to identify diagnostic attributes, with the objective of assessing the potential of microdebitage analysis for spatial and temporal investigations of archaeological and rock engraving sites. Characteristics of the quartz grains in the microdebitage were compared with quartz grains from differing environments. The observation of diagnostic surface features on quartz grains made it possible to discriminate between microdebitage from rock engravings and the natural soil background. This knowledge may be applied to material previously excavated from archaeological sites, or by sample drilling. The methods may be applied to identify episodes of rock engraving and other lithic activity. With the application of chronological techniques, microdebitage analysis can be added to other evidence of cultural activity.

Susino, G.J.
Thesis abstract 'Microdebitage and the Archaeology of Rock Art: An Experimental Approach'
December 2000
Thesis Abstracts
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