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Title: Using horse teeth to shape stone tools: an experimental approach to characterise use‑wear traces
Authors: Micó, Cristian
Cuartero, Felipe
Llamazares, Javier
Sañudo, Pablo
Zalbidea, Luis
Rivals, Florent
Blasco, Ruth
Keywords: Experimental archaeology;Horse tooth retouchers;Use-wear traces;Middle Palaeolithic;Upper Palaeolithic;Knapping
Issue Date: May-2024
Publisher: Springer
Citation: Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 2024, 16 (87)
Abstract: Horse tooth retouchers have been identified in several Middle and Upper Palaeolithic sites. They have been typically char-acterised as ‘soft’ hammers and/or grouped into the category of ‘bone retouchers’ at a technical level. Bone and teeth have different chemical compositions; teeth are denser and heavier than bone, and consequently, their technological features should not be considered homologous. In this work, we experimentally tested the effectiveness of horse teeth as retouch-ers. To perform this study, we used 41 modern horse teeth to shape flakes of various raw materials by applying different techniques. The resulting use-wear traces were analysed using high-resolution methods and then characterised. The results allowed us to identify the effectiveness of hypsodont teeth in knapping a wide range of tools and to evaluate the influence of 1) the raw materials, 2) the retouching techniques and 3) the gestures of the different knappers on the morphology of the use-wear marks. This work sheds light on the purpose of using teeth as tools by both Neanderthal and early modern human populations as well as understanding how these human species used them. The study leads us to consider tooth retouchers as important elements of the chaîne opératoire in lithic manufacture. Our goal is to highlight the importance of these types of experimental studies to create analogies and infer past processes
ISSN: 1866-9557
DOI: 10.1007/s12520-024-01988-5
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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