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Presentation
Experimental Weathering of Coastal Plain Chert: Simulating Freeze, Hydric, and Thermal Stress Processes to Evaluate the Attributes of Natural versus Human Modified Lithic Material
SAA (2013)
  • Douglas Allen Sain
Abstract
Lithic cobbles in buried contexts undergo physical weathering processes that result in fracture, the byproducts of which may be misidentified as artifacts of human production. This study explores the manner and extent to which natural processes affect lithic cobbles. Natural weathering agents such as hydric and thermal activity exert significant influence on the internal structure, integrity, and durability of lithic materials. Cobbles that exfoliate or fracture as a result of physical weathering may exhibit attributes that can be mistaken for culturally flaked stone. This poster presents the results of an experimental program designed to assess the impact of four natural weathering agents (freezing, heating, wetting, and drying) on a sample of Allendale Coastal Plain chert cobbles. Attributes of the naturally fractured specimens are compared to those commonly produced from human manufacture. The results demonstrate that no single natural agent is responsible for lithic fracture. Rather, hydric forces combined with freeze/thaw processes play a greater role in the degeneration of chert over time. Attributes consistently found on naturally fractured lithics can be distinguished from human technological processes. Studies that compare the byproducts of taphonomic processes to the attributes of known cultural materials are essential to developing informed interpretations of the archaeological record.
Keywords
  • Lithic Analysis,
  • Experimental Archaeology,
  • Taphonomy
Publication Date
2013
Citation Information
Douglas Allen Sain. "Experimental Weathering of Coastal Plain Chert: Simulating Freeze, Hydric, and Thermal Stress Processes to Evaluate the Attributes of Natural versus Human Modified Lithic Material" SAA (2013)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/douglasallen_sain/5/