Making Sense of the Winchelsea Stone Artefact Collection- Post 2

By Sam Hedditch – Graduate Diploma of Archaeology student.

I will briefly summarise some of the key achievements I have completed:

  • Understood the basics of lithic analysis and compared my results with that of another student’s on the collection to verify my methodology.
  • Completed a range of background reading into the areas associated with these tool finds to help discover their broader archaeological context.
  • Read a number of books and journal articles about Australian stone artefacts to familiarise myself with the tool types that are occurring in the collection.
  • Completed around half of the artefact analysis with the further completion, photography and illustrations remaining.

Although it is too early to generalise about the collection, it appears that the collector was informed of various tool types and raw materials, and hence would have probably been an enthusiast or amateur collector. Many of the tools have retouch, which is not the only type of attribute exhibited on stone tools , but was sort after from collectors and those looking for ‘typical’ members of the Australian Stone Tool Collection.

The journal named ‘The Artefact’, which is the journal of the Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria, does refer to some trips to the regions where the tools come from including: Coongie Lake and Mt Gambier, though it is unclear whether a member or a publishing Archaeologist/Anthropologist was involved in the Winchelsea collection.

The author using a lamp with magnification to assess a stone tool. The magnification can reveal tiny traces of use wear and residues.

As far as the artefact analysis goes, it is very time consuming and must be completed with consistency and great care. Attributes such as raw material of the tool, margins with retouch, tool type and weight are all part of the recording process. The attributes being recorded are a general set of attributes suited to a random collection like this. Further information on lithic analysis can be gained from Lithics: Macroscopic approaches to analysis by William Andrefskey Jnr (2005, Cambridge University Press).

One of the biggest challenges I have found is how to deal with analysing an artefact that is not a complete tool. This is the case more often than not with this collection. As is the case with many surface collections, the tools remaining are often discarded objects from previous users. When analysing, not having a platform or a distal margin intact will remove vital pieces from the story of the tool and leaves many attributes indeterminate.

However, this is all part of the process of learning and recording. I hope to gain more insight into the collector after reading more primary sources and archeological backgrounds to the areas where the tools are from. Until then I must keep measuring and recording!

The author using a set of digital calipers to measure dimensions on a stone tool.

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