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McPherron, Shannon P.; Abdolahzadeh, Aylar; Archer, Will; Chan, Annie; Djakovic, Igor; Dogandzic, Tamara; Leader, George M.; Li, Li; Lin, Sam; Magnani, Matthew; Reeves, Jonathan; Rezek, Zeljko; Weiss, Marcel (2020): Introducing platform surface interior angle (PSIA) and its role in flake formation, size and shape.
In: PLOS One 15(11), e0241714
Creative Commons Attribution 1MB


Four ways archaeologists have tried to gain insights into how flintknapping creates lithic variability are fracture mechanics, controlled experimentation, replication and attribute studies of lithic assemblages. Fracture mechanics has the advantage of drawing more directly on first principles derived from physics and material sciences, but its relevance to controlled experimentation, replication and lithic studies more generally has been limited. Controlled experiments have the advantage of being able to isolate and quantify the contribution of individual variables to knapping outcomes, and the results of these experiments have provided models of flake formation that when applied to the archaeological record of flintknapping have provided insights into past behavior. Here we develop a linkage between fracture mechanics and the results of previous controlled experiments to increase their combined explanatory and predictive power. We do this by documenting the influence of Herztian cone formation, a constant in fracture mechanics, on flake platforms. We find that the platform width is a function of the Hertzian cone constant angle and the geometry of the platform edge. This finding strengthens the foundation of one of the more influential models emerging from the controlled experiments. With additional work, this should make it possible to merge more of the experimental results into a more comprehensive model of flake formation.