Small knaps to a better scraper: the economics of stone sharpening in Neanderthals

by on October 13, 2012 at 11:10 am in History, Science | Permalink

That title is suggested to me by Sam Penrose, who sends this article along:

“A fundamental assumption is that the most important factor in lithic techno-economics is the amount of cutting edge you can extract from your raw material. So making thinner flakes with more edge overall is a more economic use of stone resources. Dibble took a very large scale approach to the archaeological record, and suggests an overarching pattern of increasing economy through time. Early Stone Age flakes from the African Oldowan are variable in size, but have average levels of economy, measured by edge : mass. By the Middle Palaeolithic, techno-economics have become improved, but interestingly through two approaches. Prepared core technology, or the Levallois technique, permits control over the flakes produced, and, depending on the style used, can result in either wide/long and thin flakes.”

1 Mark Thorson October 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

Coming to your Sharper Image catalog:

http://laughingsquid.com/modern-stone-flint-tools/

2 Greg Ransom October 13, 2012 at 11:56 am

So is this biology / economy of nature ala Michael Ghiselin or is it Gary Becker’s “science of behavior” / economic imperialism.

Promiscious use of the words “economy” and “economics” etc to the point where ever use has a different significance and does a different job leads to professors completely confused & muddled about what they are soon and what sort of “science” and explanations they are providing — ie it leads to false understanding and incoherent knowledge.claims.

3 prior_approval October 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I’m sure the university based on a YouTube channel will be able to help this situation out. After all, ‘university’ is right in its name.

4 dearieme October 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

“a more economic use of stone resources”: was there a shortage of stone?

5 Osual October 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Good stone take time and energy to find.

6 Ray Lopez October 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Yes, some say there was a shortage of stone says the archeological record. In the Doomsday Myth, by Charles Maurice and Charles Smithson, Hoover Institute, there’s a somewhat apocryphal but interesting chapter on how even in the stone age there was a “Peak Flint” moment, when the good flint started to run out, but cavemen found other supplies. Maurice et al. are cornucopia advocates, like Julian Simon was and the opposite of the Club of Rome types.

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