An analysis of the stone artefacts from Gledswood Shelter 1 – Update

This is an update to my last posting for the analysis of artefacts from Gledswood shelter 1.

After receiving a large box of artefacts from excavation Square B0 in mid-April, I  set myself to the task of sorting through the material. This has involved working through each excavation unit (Spit) identifying the artefact types, including cores (complete or broken), hammer stones, grinding stones, and flakes (complete or broken).  For a broken flake I am identifying whether it is longitudinally or transversely broken and whether it is a distal, proximal, medial, and left or right fragment.

The artefact types are then categorised by raw material type. For example, quartz flakes are grouped together, transversely broken distal chert flakes are grouped together, and so on. The groupings from each spit are bagged and labelled in preparation for the next stage, which will include measuring, weighing and recording.

I am now about 45% of the way through this initial sorting phase before progressing to the measuring and recording stage. With each box of artefacts I open there is often something interesting and possibly unique to the spit. For example, Spit 16 contains a fragment of pestle which has been used for grinding materials which could have included ochre, clay, charcoal, seeds or other plant materials.

The spits towards the bottom of the excavation square (early Holocene in age) contain mostly quartzite artefacts. By around halfway up the sequence there is a sudden change and quartzite disappears from the assemblage and clear crystalline quartz becomes the dominant raw material. Further up the excavation this then changes to a mix of white, white grey and clear quartz. Why these changes have occurred will be considered as part of my final report.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A pebble used both as a hammerstone and also as a core for the removal of flakes

Throughout the Square B0 assemblage there is only a small percentage of chert and mudstone and thus far only two examples of chalcedony (both from the one spit).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A broken chalcedony flake with retouch

A small percentage of the flaked artefacts exhibit retouching along their margins. Towards the bottom of the sequence they are very rare and only seen on quartzite flakes. Towards the middle of the sequence retouching is also seen on chert, chalcedony and quartz flakes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A broken chert flake with retouch

As more data become available through the detailed recording it will  become easier to determine when, and to what extent, these changes in material type have occurred through time. However, there are hundreds of artefacts and each one has to be analysed to determine how it was made. There is a high volume of quartz, which is the most difficult raw material for which determine the process of reduction. My only hope is that I can manage to stay sane through all of the analysis and recording.

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