Lithics in the Laboratory

As Adam so eloquently wrote in his blog post from last year’s field season (see post here), work during an archaeological project does not end when we leave site and put away our trowels for the day. After lunch and a rest, we are back to work in the evenings sorting and analyzing artifacts from the site. This year we are fortunately to have a team composed of students interested in lithic analysis, so the focus of our analysis this year has been on stone tools collected from the site. To begin our analysis, we must first float sediment brought back from site to recover the artifacts, then sort through the 4mm heavy fraction to separate the faunal bones, lithics, and other cultural material from any remaining sediment. Finally, we sort the lithics according to our technological typology. After the field season, a sample of lithic material is shipped to UC Berkeley or the University of Tulsa for specialized analysis such as use-wear or more detailed attribute analysis. The faunal material is sent to specialists, Louise and Adam, for further analysis to identify the range of animals that where hunted at the site.

Lab before artifacts
Lab on the first day before the excavation (now it is filled with crates of artifacts!)

This year we have several goals for the lithic analysis. Back in 2010 we excavated a deep trench in Area A (the Middle Epipalaeolithic area) to get a better understanding site occupation over time. In particular, we are interested in how the lithic technology and retouched tools changed over 1,000 years of occupation. Through looking at these changes we can understand how the site connects with other contemporary sites in the region, how technology changed over time, and which different groups were living at Kharaneh IV. This year we are finishing up the analysis of the deep trench lithic material so we can trace these changes through time.

We are also processing material excavated during our current 2016 field season, specifically the artifacts from Structure 2. The artifacts recovered from the second hut structure will provide insight into how people organized their inside space vs their outside space. Through comparison with Structure 1 we can identify whether there are similarities or differences in how material was organized across space in these structures and how this relates to community structure during the Early Epipalaeolithic.

The large amount of lithics at Kharaneh IV certainly keeps us busy in the evenings as we try to better understand the site’s Epipalaeolithic inhabitants.

analyzing lithics
Danielle, Ahmad, and Felicia discussing Kharaneh IV lithic analysis

By DanielleMacdonald

Archaeologist, academic, working in Jordan, teaching in Tulsa

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