Lithics: Macroscopic Approaches to Analysis

By Yerkes, Richard W. | Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Lithics: Macroscopic Approaches to Analysis


Yerkes, Richard W., Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


ANDREFSKY, WILLIAM JR. Lithics: macroscopic approaches to analysis (Camb. Man. Archaeol.). xxviii, 258 pp., illus., maps, tables, bibliogr. Cambridge: Univ. Press, 1998. [pounds]50.00 (cloth), [pounds]16.95 (paper)

Andrefsky's book is the latest in the Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology series. It is based on topics covered in his courses on lithic analysis (taught over the past fifteen years). There are suggestions for the reader, and descriptions and examples of different ways to study stone artefacts, but this manual is not a blueprint for someone who wants to examine a lithic assemblage. It should be used as a text in courses on lithic artefact analysis. The manual includes a seven-page glossary an extensive and up-to-date bibliography and a three-page index. It begins with a very short overview of lithic analysis, including notes on microwear analysis and experimental replication, since these methods are not really covered in the manual. Chapters on stone tool production and lithic raw materials follow, with sections on lithic artefact terminology, fracture mechanics and the processes of tool production, use, recycling and discard. There is some discussion of rock classification and geochemical 'fingerprinting' techn iques that can be used to identify sources of lithic raw material.

The middle section of the manual covers identification, classification and analysis of lithic tools, artefacts and debitage. The final chapters provide examples of how lithic artefact analysis can be employed in studies of site function and in reconstructing prehistoric patterns of mobility and sedentism. The manual is intended to be concise, but most topics are illustrated with a variety of examples from many different geographical areas and time periods. The manual illustrates how studies of lithic artefacts can provide insights into many aspects of ancient human behaviour. Paul Mellars once remarked that some archaeologists are intimidated by lithic artefacts and have a difficult time deciding what to do with them. This manual may reduce some of their apprehension, but there are some sections that could be improved. …

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