Experimental Replication of Australian Grinding Stone Implements

23rd November 2014

Hayes, ElsbethUntil recently in Australia, lithic tool-use experiments were dominated by flaked stone with relatively few studies of ground-stone. This poster reports on a workshop, during which tool-use experiments were designed to document the wear traces associated with the grinding various materials, different processing techniques and sandstones of different physical properties (e.g. hardness, grain size, degree of cementation). Experimental sandstone grinding implements were used primarily to process organic and inorganic materials, documented ethnographically. Upper and lower stones were used together to grind or pound seeds and bone; and abrading stones were used to file bone, stone and wood, and to grate haematite. The experiments provided insights into the wear formation on sandstones of different hardness and degree of cementation. Examination of ground surfaces indicated that the use-wear patterns were distinctive of the broad categories of processed material (seed, bone, stone, haematite and wood). Key use-wear features relating to activity and processed material are reflected in the degree of grain-rounding and grain-levelling, the presence of macroscopic surface striations and the occurrence of micro-fractures, polish and striations observed at high magnification. Residues were also distinctive of the broad categories of processed material. Residues included collagen and cellulose fibres, starch granules, bone fragments and pigment and other mineral crystals. Stained cellular structures provide a reliable basis for distinguishing the investigated plant and animal tissue subjected to mechanical damage, resulting from grinding and pounding. The residue and use-wear experiments build on previous studies and help form the basis of a systematic and collaborative use-wear and residue reference library for ground-stone tools in Australia. Future experiments will focus on the wider range of plant taxa processed by grinding and documented ethnographically.

Citation for this poster:

Hayes, E., D. Cnuts, R. Fullagar, C. Pardoe, C. Clarkson and B. Stephenson 2014 Experimental Replication of Australian Grinding Stone Implements. Poster Presented at AAA/ASHA Annual Conference, 1-3 December, Cairns.

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