When do similarities in flake attributes reflect common

When do similarities in flake attributes reflect common

When do similarities in flake attributes reflect common cultural ancestry?
Jonathan Paige, Charles Perreault
Question two: Are attributes with smaller morphospaces more prone to convergence?

Convergence is a potential problem in tracing cultural interactions in the Pleistocene
Morphospace
Archaeologists use similarities in flake attributes to infer
cultural interaction, and migration (Tostevin 2012).
However, flake similarities could be due to causes other
than cultural interaction, or common cultural ancestry.
How many possible forms a flake may take, or its
morphospace (McGhee 2006), is constrained by the
physics of fracture mechanics (Magnani et al. 2014,
Moore 2011).

Possible forms
Impossible forms

Restricted morphospaces should be more prone to
convergence: similar forms being made by chance by
two groups without a cultural connection.

Attribute A
Wider space
Large coefficient
of variation
Greater potential
for variation

Methods
Gathered flake data from two groups:
Ingroups: Hohokam assemblages
dating between 1100-1300 A.D.
recovered from Tonto Basin, Central
Arizona. (N =620 flakes).
Outgroups: 13 experimental
assemblages, and 5 old world
Pleistocene assemblages (N=3,485
flakes).

Attribute B
Restricted space
Small coefficient
of variation
Convergence is
likely

Compared (KS-test) external platform
angle (E), platform thickness (P) and
length/width ratio (L) distributions
between assemblages (315 comparisons).
Similarities between Hohokam and
outgroups counted as cases of
convergence.

Question one: Do flake attributes differ in morphospace size?
Platform
Thickness

Methods
Collected summary data on flakes
(N=42,502) from 15 experimental and 51
archaeological assemblages.

External
platform
angle

Length: ratio
Width

Similarities within Hohokam, and
differences between Hohokam and
outgroup counted as successes.

Assemblages span MP-UP Eurasia,
Lomekwian-MSA Africa, late Holocene
North America.

Results

Collected mean external platform angle
(E), platform depth (P), and length:width
ratios (L).

62%

41%

Ext. Plat. Angl.
18%
26%
0%

External Pla orm
Angle

Results
Attributes vary in size of morphospace (CV)

CV = 8%

Pla orm
Thickness

CV = 43%

Length/Width
Ra o

CV = 39%
0%

25%

External platform angle (E) has the
smallest CV, the most restricted
morphospace, and should be most prone to
convergence.

50%

Bader, G., Will, M., Conrad, N. (2015). "The lithic technology of Holley Shelter, KwaZulu-Natal, and its place
within the MSA of southern Africa." The South African Archaeological Bulletin, 149-165.
Cameron, J. (1985) Gran Quivira Limestone Lithic Database (tDAR id: 399215)
Harmand, S., Lewis, J. E., Feibel, et al. (2015). 3.3-million-year-old stone tools from Lomekwi 3, West
Turkana, Kenya. Nature, 521(7552), 310-315.
Hunstiger, M. (2016). Three Dimensional Aggregate Flake Scar Analysis and Hominin Behavior at Tabun
Cave, Israel. Dissertation.

Discussion
Attributes that have limited morphospaces should be more prone to convergence than
other attributes.
Outlining the morphospace for lithic technology is one way of exploring which attributes
may be more or less useful for cultural reconstructions.
Future studies will assess the scales at which different attributes retain cultural
information.

Klassen, S., Harkness, R. (2015) EMAP Obsidian Flake Database (tDAR id:
394605)
Magnani, M,. Rezek, Z., Lin, S., et al. (2014). Flake variation in relation to
the application of force. Journal of Archaeological Science.
McGhee, G. (2008). The Geometry of Evolution: Adaptive Landscapes and
Theoretical Morphospaces. Cambridge University Press.
Moore, M. W., & Perston, Y. (2016). Experimental Insights into the
Cognitive Significance of Early Stone Tools. PloS one, 11(7), e0158803.

Moore, M. (2011). The design space of stone flaking: implications for cognitive evolution. World
Archaeology. (43)4, 702-715
Munday, F. (1977). Nahal Aqev (D35): a stratified, open-air Mousterian occupation in the Avdat/
Aqev area." Prehistory and paleoenvironments in the central Negev, Israel. Vol. 2.
de la Pea, P. (2015). Refining Our Understanding of Howiesons Poort Lithic Technology: The
Evidence from Grey Rocky Layer in Sibudu Cave (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). PloS one, 10(12),

25%

50%

** ***

Convergence
N=90 trials per Plat. Depth
a ribute
Length:Width

**

Calculated coefficient of variation (CV) in
each attribute as a proxy for relative size of
morphospaces.

69%

Plat. Depth
Length:Width

***

Success in both identifying similarities
among Hohokam, and differences between
Hohokam and outgroup ranges between
~50% and ~70%.

51%

Ext. Plat. Angl.

**

Convergence more likely for external
platform angle than other attributes

Successes
(N=105 trials
per a ribute)

= P value < .05 = P value < .001 75% Acknowledgements: Thanks to the researchers who published data used in this study, Derek Miltimore for the flake photo, Dr. Arleyn Simon, The Center for Archaeology and Society, and The Roosevelt Platform Mound Study for their help and access to the Tonto Basin assemblage. Presnyakova, D., Archer, W., Braun, D. R., Flear, W. (2015). Documenting differences between early stone age flake production systems: An experimental model and archaeological verification. Plos one Tostevin, G. B. (2012). Seeing lithics. A Middle Range Theory for Testing for Cultural Transmission in the Pleistocene. American School of Prehistoric Research Monograph Series, Harvard.

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