Studying post depositional damage on Acheulian bifaces using 3-D scanning

Leore Grosman*, Gonen Sharon, Talia Goldman-Neuman, Oded Smikt, Uzy Smilansky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


In this study, we explore post-depositional damage observed on Acheulian bifacial tools by comparing two assemblages: a collection of archaeological handaxes which shows pronounced damage marks associated with high energy water accumulation system, and an experimental assemblage that was rolled and battered in a controlled simulation experiment. Scanning the two assemblages with a precise 3-D optical scanner and subjecting the measured surfaces to the same mathematical analysis enabled the development of quantitative measures assessing and comparing the degree of damage observed on archaeological and experimental tools. The method presented here enables the definition of morphological patterns typically resulting from battering and different from intentional controlled knapping. The most important kinds of damage included the formation of deep, random 'notch-like' scars on the lateral edges and substantial degrees of damage to the tip of the tools, but minimal damage to the artifact's butt. Quantifying the degree of damage and its location and morphological characters allows us to present a method by which post depositional damage on archaeological tools can be measured.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)398-406
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by The Israel Science Foundation center of excellence grant (Number 300/06) and the ISF grant 168/06. Boaz Grosman helped build the rolling barrel both physically and conceptually. Craig Feibel interpreted the NBA stratigraphy and provided section drawings. Bo Madsen provided some of the experimental handaxes and helped excavating the NBA sections. We wish to thank Avshalom Karasik, Ofer Marder and in particular the students of the course “Experimental Archaeology” 2006 at the Hebrew University.


  • 3-D scanning
  • Acheulian
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Handaxes
  • Morphology
  • Post depositional damage


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