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Lithics Ireland
Lithic Analysis and Consultancy

Mesolithic flake

Abstract
Worldwide, vein quartz was a commonly used raw material for stone tools but this material has proved difficult for archaeologists to analyse because many quartz assemblages appear to be comprised of amorphous pieces, not easily recognised as humanly modified or forming ‘tools’. This paper discusses the analysis of the debitage – focusing on the debitage fragmentation rate, the debitage, break, and fragment types, and the quantitative analysis of the complete flakes – resulting from experimental knapping of quartz, which formed part of a project which investigated the use of quartz in Irish prehistoric lithic traditions. The results have highlighted the complexity involved in analysing quartz assemblages, and the significant differences between the debitage products of quartz and chert knapping assemblages. While bipolar knapping is generally easy to differentiate from direct percussion, it is harder to differentiate between soft and hard hammer percussion.

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