Lithic Technology





Stone tools are the oldest known human technology. They represent the most abundant and arguably one of the most informative elements of the archaeological record for reconstructing ancient human behavior over the last 3.3 million years. In this graduate seminar that is open to undergraduates with permission, students are provided with a solid methodological and theoretical grounding in how to interpret stone (lithic) tools. The course includes hands-on training in how to identify and analyze stone tools, qualitative and quantitative approaches to process and interpret lithic data, and detailed discussions of current theoretical perspectives that use stone tools to understand broader questions about the evolution and diversity of human behavioral adaptations.

The course will draw heavily on the analysis of archaeological collections from diverse locations stored at Harvard’s Peabody Museum, as well as experimental stone tool manufacture. However, this class will go above and beyond a tutorial of standard lithic analysis and will also focus on what kinds of anthropological questions can be answered using lithic data. Students will design a data collection protocol or experimental archaeology experiment with specific research questions in mind. By the end of the semester, students will integrate this research design into their final project in one of two forms: 1) as a component of a more extensive research proposal or 2) as a write-up of the results of their lithic analysis or experimental project. Throughout the semester, we will workshop these projects as a class.