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Technological Efficiency and Tool Curation

  • Douglas B. Bamforth (a1)

Archaeologists frequently explain tool curation by its efficiency. Such explanations ignore the fact that curation is a complex activity and that its component parts are efficient in different ways. I argue that the nature and distribution of lithic resources critically affect technological efficiency and I discuss two aspects of curation, maintenance and recycling, asserting that they are responses to raw material shortages. Shortages result from regional geological conditions and from behavior patterns that restrict access to raw material in certain contexts. Ethnographic and archaeological examples support this hypothesis and highlight the relationship between subsistence-settlement organization, raw material distribution, and technology.

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L. R. Binford 1979 Organization and Formation Processes: Looking at Curated Technologies. Journal of Anthropological Research 35: 255273.

L. R. Binford 1980 Willow Smoke and Dogs’ Tails: Hunter-gatherer Settlement Systems and Archaeological Site Formation. American Antiquity 45: 117.

George L. Cowgill 1977 The Trouble with Significance Tests and What We Can Do about It. American Antiquity 42: 350368.

L. H. Keeley 1982 Rehafting and Retooling: Effects on the Archaeological Record. American Antiquity 47: 798809.

Richard Yerkes 1983 Microwear, Microdrills, and Mississippian Craft Specialization. American Antiquity 48: 499518.

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