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A Formal Approach to the Design and Assembly of Mobile Toolkits

  • Steven L. Kuhn (a1)
Abstract

It is widely believed that the design of transported artifacts and toolkits employed by mobile populations is influenced by two main factors, portability and potential utility. Choices about the kinds of artifacts to carry around can be modeled as an optimization problem, in which it is beneficial to obtain the greatest potential utility for the minimum total weight. This study approaches the problem analytically, making a few simple assumptions about artifact geometry and the relations between utility and artifact size. If artifact utility is calculated as a function of potential for renewal, transported toolkits should consist entirely of relatively small finished tools. Moreover, most gains in durability or multifunctionality that require increases in overall size are outweighed by increased transport cost. Inconsistencies between these expectations and ethnographic and archaeological observations point to situations in which artifact functionality is more closely constrained by overall size or mass.

Resumen

Existe una creencia generalizada que sostiene que el diseño de artefactos y conjuntos de herramientas transportados y empleados por poblaciones móbiles está influenciado por dos factores principales, portabilidad y utilidad potencial. La selección de las clases de artefactos que se transportan puede ser modelada como un problema de optimización, en el cual es provechoso obtener la mayor utilidad potencial por el menor peso total. Este estudio enfoca el problema analiticamente, y utiliza pocos supuestos simples sobre la geometría del artefacto y las relaciones entre utilidad y tamaño del artefacto. Si la utilidad del artefacto se calcula como una función del potencial de renovación, los conjuntos de herramientas transportados consisten enteramente en herramientas acabadas y de tamaño relativamente pequeño. Además, la mayoría de los beneficios en cuanto a durabilidad y funcionalidad múltiple que requieren encrementos de tamaño están limitados por el incremento en el costo de transporte. Inconsistencias entre estos supuestos y las observaciones etnográficas y arqueológicas señalan situaciones en las que la funcionalidad del artefacto está constreñida por su tamaño o masa.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
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