It really pays to read about your topic >1 week before it starts. Sunday morning (6th) before Lithics began, I thought I’d best open the portal to see what was coming up. I saw:
ASSIGNMENT DUE MONDAY 7TH NOVEMBER
Cue mini-heart attack.
Thankfully they were multiple choice questions, ensuring we would rock up to class with at least a bit of background knowledge, having done prior reading.
So yes, last-last weekend I read up on stone tool manufacture in record time. Did you know that:
• Aboriginal Australians would hunt emus and dingos with stone tools.
• Adzes are a stone tool, kind of like the sister tool to the axe (pronounced “ads”, like the annoying things you try and skip before a YouTube video)
• When the adzes wear down after a lot of use they become adze slugs, named so because you get the little sliver left behind and they can indeed resemble a homeless snail
• There are numerous ways you can crack a open a stone by hand and every pathway regarding stone flaking has been modelled and documented and described by physicists (what?*) … because of the angles of fracture can be theta and gamma and so on etc
• …and the previous point is why stone tools will have predictable features compared to an untouched rock sitting around.
On day two we got to recording different kinds of stone tools.
The main takeaway the lecturer wanted us to take away was that recording forms should be able to be stand-ins for people i.e. if you aren’t around to describe a rock, all your notes should be able to point someone else in the right direction.
Document, document, document! I think that really applies in all industries, such as accounting.
Our lecturer wanted us to try recording a mystery item at the start of classes with little/no knowledge, then return at the end of the course and see what the difference was.
I don’t know if I knew what the heck Silcrete was but for some reason I put that down as the raw material for the mystery item.
BTW if in doubt, silcrete (and a lot of volcanic rock) is glittery.
I now think my favourite stone is chalcedony because it was the prettiest thing in class (is that shallow? Oh well.) Some of it looked like frozen cola cola and some of it like frozen white mist.
I should have taken more photos but we were busy recording and I didn’t want to be rude with my phone out. So here’s a stock image.
One more fun fact: if you ever find a stone that’s nice and smooth and suspect that it’s an archaeological artefact purely “because it fits so well in my hand!!!”
Do you have a favourite kind of stone? Do you know your birth stone? Does life spring up on you sometimes?
*I think physicists are examples of the cleverest people who look at the weirdest things with their time.