ANTH 182A: Lithic Technology




Days & Times Room Instructor Meeting Dates
MW 9:00-12:30 Soc Sci 2, 141 J. Reti 2018 Summer Session 1

Catalog Description:

Introduction to lithic and ceramic analysis in archaeology. Includes lab analysis, discussions of classification and typology, and exploration of the concept of style as it relates to ceramics and lithics in archaeology. 

Lithic analysis focuses on the inferential potential of stone tools with regard to human behavior.  Early human ancestors first realized the utility of sharp stone edges for butchery and other practices and, arguably, without the advent of stone tools, human evolution would have taken a very different path.  Stone tools allowed early hominins efficient access to meat resources and provided an avenue for cognitive development and three-dimensional problem solving.  This course will provide a three-fold approach to lithic analysis:

  • The study of archaeological sites and behavioral change through time relative to lithic technological changes.
  • Insight into the art of laboratory lithic analysis and methods employed to attain concrete, quantitative behavioral conclusions.
  • Extensive training in stone tool replication. 

Such training will provide students with both an appreciation for the skills of our ancestors and with personal skills that will allow for further research into replication and human behavior.

Students will gain an in-depth appreciation for and understanding of the nuances of stone tool technology. Through the production of lithic artifacts, the study of archaeological material and broad exposure to archaeological theory, students will leave this course with both the practical knowledge of applied lithic analysis in laboratory settings and the theoretical knowledge to apply conclusions from such analysis. Replication experiments ranging from Early Stone Age Oldowan methods to Native American projectile technology will enable students to experience two million years of behavioral change and master the art of conchoidal fracture production, propagation, and use. Students will also gain insights into a broad range of archaeological sites that will detail hominin behavioral change via material evidence.


Materials: Flint & Basalt

Students Experience:

The structure of the course allows for stone tool replication and readings to be discussed during the class and analysis of the flakes produced to occur throughout each week. Each week a new industry or complex will be examined through readings and lectures. The course begins with primate archaeology and works up to Neolithic tool industries. During stone tool replication, which occurs the last portion of class each week, students experience the complex thinking and forethought of past hominins when deciding when to strike to produce desired flakes or byproducts. 

Word On The Street...

"Jay Reti is extremely passionate about his subject of choice, and that makes his class a pleasure to partake in.  I took Lithics over the summer, and the hours were brutal.  That said, his passion and excitement helped me keep it together after breaking seven cores.  The class is two parts lecture, one part flaking, and one part measuring said flakes.  Honestly, measuring flakes was about as dull as watching paint dry, but making the flakes was a blast.  " --Adam, 4th Year Anth Student, Winter '17