At CRA, lithic analysis consists of the technological analysis of flake debris, technological and morphological analysis of modified implements and cores, and low magnification microwear analysis of modified implements and a sample of flake debris. The method(s) used depend on the questions being asked of the data and the data set in question. Common methods in use at CRA consist of mass analysis, reduction stage classification, minimum analytical nodule and refit analysis, and continuum based approaches. Experimental data sets can be created for use in the analysis. Comparative collections from use wear experiments and chert samples from the southeastern and midwestern United States are housed at CRA.
Analysis of lithic materials is a common aspect of many site analyses. At Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc., these analyses consist of technological analysis of flake debris, technological and morphological analysis of modified implements (i.e., bifaces, unifaces), and low magnification microwear analysis of modified implements and a sample of flake debris.
Several methods of flake debris analysis are employed in the analysis of the flake debris depending on the questions being asked of the data and the data set in question. These are
- Mass Analysis (e.g., Ahler 1989a, 1989b; Ahler and Christensen 1983)
- Reduction stage classification (e.g., Magne 1985, 1989; Magne and Pokotylo 1981)
- Continuum based approach (e.g., Bradbury and Carr 1999, Ingbar et al. 1989; Shott 1996)
The use of several different methods of analysis is seen as complementary because each provides information to cross check the other (e.g., Bradbury and Carr 1995; Morrow 1997; Shott 1994). Binford (1987) has argued for the use of multiple lines of evidence in archaeological investigation as a means of strengthening inferences or revealing ambiguities. When the results of several analyses are taken in combination, they allow for more sound inferences concerning assemblage formation processes and the organization of lithic technology. Coding formats employed in the flake debris analysis allow for easy recording of the data necessary to use several analytical methods. In addition, these formats allow for comparison with many other data sets.
If needed, lithic experimental data sets can be created for use in the analysis. These consist of reduction experiments to use as a baseline for mass analysis and use-wear experiments. Mr. Bradbury is an experienced knapper and has conducted a number of such experiments in the past. A comparative collection of use-wear experiments is housed at Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. In addition, Mr. Bradbury has created several mass analysis experimental data sets for previous projects. The use of mass analysis reduction data sets of local raw materials is recommended to get the most from mass analysis (Bradbury and Franklin 2000).
Depending on the data set(s) in question, the application of statistical methods may be used in the analysis. Mr. Bradbury has experience in the application of both univariate and multivariate statistical methods. In addition, he has also used spatial and diversity analyses in conjunction with the analysis of lithic materials.
Lithic analyses might also include:
- Modified Implements and Cores
- Low Magnification Microwear
- High-Power Lithic Use-Wear
- Spatial Analysis
- Diversity Analysis