Assessing raw material’s role in bipolar and freehand miniaturized flake shape, technological structure, and fragmentation rates

Justin Pargeter, Paloma de la Peña, Metin I. Eren

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This paper concludes a long-term experimental study to examine the role of bipolar and freehand reduction as strategies for lithic miniaturization on milky quartz and flint. The experiments provide clear quantifiable guidelines for identifying bipolar reduction in archeological assemblages. They suggest that with bipolar reduction—a straightforward and time-efficient strategy to learn—toolmakers could easily surpass the cutting edge/mass efficiency levels of more derived lithic reduction strategies such as pressure blade production. Here we compared the efficiency and technological attributes on the experiment’s milky quartz and flint flakes. The results show few practically significant differences between the two flake samples. The strongest differences are in the flakes’ ventral surface and platform features. Otherwise, we concur with previous experimental studies that show certain types of milky quartz behave in essentially the same way as other brittle materials such as flint. Our results aid the identification of bipolar reduction with a focus on cores and flakes. They contribute to a growing body of literature showing the importance of simple, but not simplistic, technological strategies in prehistoric human decision-making.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)5893-5907
    Number of pages15
    JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
    Issue number11
    StatePublished - Nov 1 2019



    • Bipolar technology
    • Experimental archeology
    • Flakes
    • Flint
    • Lithic miniaturization
    • Milky quartz

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Archaeology
    • Anthropology
    • Archaeology

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