The high-power lithic use-wear laboratory at CRA’s West Virginia office is equipped for the specialized analysis of lithic tools using high power microscopy. The technique is based on the work of such researchers as Semenov (1966) and Keeley (1987), who pioneered the use of magnification in the range of 80x to 300x to analyze tool edges for evidence of polishes and striations that result from specific activities. Both the action (e.g., cutting, scraping, sawing) and the material worked (e.g., hide, meat, wood, bone) can be distinguished. The technique can build on information gained from a low-power approach, which uses magnifications = 80x, or can be used alone to provide a more detailed description of activities associated with a site or specific site component. It is most often used at the phase II or, more particularly, the phase III level of investigation.
Under the direction of Dr. Flora J. Church, the high power lithic use-wear laboratory makes use of a Bausch and Lomb MicroZoom metallurgical microscope with magnifications from 22.5x to 1000x. A Sony DSCW7 digital camera allows for the capture, manipulation, and zoom (up to 5x) of detailed images of use-wear from the microscope. The laboratory maintains a reference collection of photomicrographs of use-wear examples and experimental tools produced from a variety of cherts.