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Managing Lithic Scatters

Oxford Archaeology, Oxford Archaeology (2019) Managing Lithic Scatters. UNSPECIFIED. (Submitted)

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Due to their durability stone artefacts are a significant source of archaeological evidence, and are usually found either sealed in their original context as undisturbed sites, or as lithic scatters displaced by natural or agricultural processes. For much of prehistory both types of lithic sites provide the majority, and sometimes the only evidence, of past human activity and subsistence strategies. By studying and understanding their formation, spatial distribution and technological attributes, we can get closer to understanding the activities of the people who created these artefacts.

Lithic sites are an important archaeological resource that can provide valuable insights into prehistory. They are an ubiquitous, but often neglected, resource found in different landscape settings and depositional environments; as such, they can inform on the ways people in the past engaged with the world they inhabited. Lithic sites are archaeological sites where people worked with stone. Foremost this involved reducing nodules of raw material into flakes, blades and tools which could be used in a variety of tasks. This type of activity defines many undisturbed sites and scatters, but worked stone can be found in a variety of contexts. In relation to undisturbed sites, these often constitute secondary depositional environments; for example, where worked stone is moved from its primary context into middens or pits. In some instances, this has been taken to imply the use of worked stone as a metaphor, referencing how people interacted with specific places in the landscape. So, in addition to their practicality, lithics may also have accrued symbolic meanings relating to the experiences of those who made, used and discarded worked stone.

Lithic scatters are frequently recovered from the ploughzone through fieldwalking, test pitting or evaluations. Undisturbed sites can also be found through trenching and excavations, where lithics have been sealed by alluvial, colluvial or silting deposits and/or deposited in sub-surface features. Detailed recording and analyses of lithic sites can significantly contribute to our understanding of how gatherer-hunters and early farming groups lived from the Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age.

This guidance replaces the existing Managing Lithic Scatters. It is intended for everyone involved in working with lithic material, ranging from developers to those involved in community based projects. As such, it considers key themes relating to the definition and significance of lithic sites; the means to identify, assess, evaluate and excavate them; and their mitigation and management. Therefore, it encompasses a broad range of advice and techniques that can be applied to a wide variety of project types and budgets.

Item Type: Other
Subjects: Period > UK Periods > Bronze Age 2500 - 700 BC
Period > UK Periods > Mesolithic 10,000 - 4,000 BC
Period > UK Periods > Neolithic 4000 - 2200 BC
Period > UK Periods > Palaeolithic 500 000 - 10 000 BC
Depositing User: Parsons
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2019 15:54
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2023 09:11
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/4701

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