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Title: The function of the earliest Oldowan. Case studies on use-wear analyses of the Gona (Ethiopia) and Ain Hanech (Algeria) stone artifacts
Authors: Mardones, Verónica
Ríos Garaizar, Joseba
Rogers, Michael J.
Sahnouni, Mohamed
Semaw, Sileshi
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Society of Africanist Archaeologists
Citation: Society of Africanist Archaeologist (SAFA) 23rd Biennial Meeting, 2016, p. 39-40
Abstract: Our knowledge about the function of Oldowan Stone artefacts is generally based on evidence gathered from limited use-wear analyses undertaken on lithic artefacts excavated from Koobi Fora (Kenya), El-Kherba (Algeria), and Kanjera South (Kenya) (Keeley, Toth 1981; Sahnouni et al. 2013; Lemorini et al. 2014); and from bone surface modification studies. Among the earliest cutmarked bones associated with Oldowan artefacts were those identified at OGS-7 and OGS-6 at Gona (Ethiopia) (Domínguez-Rodrigo et al. 2005), at Koobi Fora (Kenya), (Braun, Harris 2003), at Olduvai (Tanzania) (Domínguez-Rodrigo et al. 2010), and at El-Kherba (Algeria) (Sahnouni et al. 2013). The evidence from these studies suggests that Oldowan hominins used stone artefacts primarily for processing animal carcasses, although other activities cannot be ruled out. Considering the limited evidence known on the function of Oldowan stone tools, applying use-wear analyses to Oldowan artifacts could provide us with pertinent information about how the artefacts were used and its implications on hominin subsistence, tool use behaviour and ecological adaptations. This study involved thorough use-wear analyses on the function of Oldowan stone tools from OGS-7, OGS-6, EG-10 and EG-12 at Gona, Ethiopia (2,6 Ma) (Semaw et al. 2003), and from Ain Hanech and El-Kherba, Algeria (1,7-1,8Ma) (Sahnouni, de Heinzelin 1998).The methodology employed in the analyses involved study of micro and macro use-wear traces on these stone tools. The creation of a functional reference collection is pertinent to carry out this functional analysis due to the variability of the raw materials used at Gona (trachyte, latite, rhyolite, and basalt), and at Ain Hanech (flint and limestone). High resolution silicon moulds of the active edges have been made on a selection of stone tools from Gona and Ain Hanech to be analyzed using a reflected light microscope. Preliminary results suggest a wide range of activities for the Oldowan tools, including cutting, percussion and scraping activities. Further experimental replicative studies are needed to conclusively determine the primary function of these stone tools, such as for carcass or plant processing or both.
Type: Presentation
Appears in Collections:Congresos, encuentros científicos y estancias de investigación

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