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The Lithic Assemblage of the Western Desert Aborigines of Australia

  • Richard A. Gould (a1), Dorothy A. Koster (a1) and Ann H. L. Sontz (a1)


Statistical and microscopic studies of ethnographic Australian Aboriginal stone tools reveal patterns which correlate significantly with the known uses, techniques of manufacture, and native classification of these tools. Statistically, the most significant correlation occurs between the angle of the working edge of the tool and the classification and function of the tool. Steep-edge flakes are classified as purpunpa and serve as woodworking scrapers, while flakes with acute edge-angles are classed as tjimari and are used as knives for cutting skin and tendons. Microscopic study has further revealed that woodworking scrapers show a distinctive pattern of use-wear. Some trial comparisons are also attempted between ethnographic Aboriginal woodworking scrapers and Quina-type scrapers of Bordes' Quina-Ferrassie facies of the Mousterian in order to suggest the value of comparing ethnographically known tools with archaeological specimens.



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