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Squitieri, Andrea; Eitam, David (2016): An Experimental Approach to Ground Stone Tool Manufacture. In: Journal of Lithic Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3: pp. 553-564


The manufacture of ground stone tools has long been a topic of interest for archaeologists. Ground stone tools made of specific stone types (e.g., limestone, basalt, granite) have been investigated with regards to the technology chosen by craftsmen, the manufacturing process, working tools and tool mark analysis. Here, we present the results of an experimental study of the manufacture of a basalt mortar. In particular, the strategy we adopted in designing this study was to present a method for producing a basalt mortar by pecking and abrading with basalt tools. The study was designed and conducted by A. Squitieri and D. Eitam, while the mortar was made by the sculptor D. Yassur. The goals of our experiment were to observe and document the choices made by the sculptor in creating the mortar, starting from the selection of a basalt cobblestone as the raw material, the tools (made from basalt) he used and the ways he used them. We detected practical problems the sculptor had to overcome during the process, the amount of debitage, and the nature of tool marks in the mortar cavity after the manufacturing process. We documented the entirety of the experiment through photographs and videos. Our experimental production using the expertise of a professional sculpture and his thorough knowledge of basalt offers a better understanding of basalt artefact manufacture, the physical properties of the raw material and the interaction between basalt tools and basalt raw material.