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A history carved in stones: multi-scale approaches for surface texture analysis

4 April 2022
2:00 pm
San Francesco Complex - classroom 1

Stone implements have been used since the early stages of humankind as tools for processing different resources, one of the most direct actions being pounding and grinding. Identifying the function(s) of this kind of tools, namely macrolithic tools, and distinguishing them from simple stones is not an easy task. Therefore, they are often underrepresented in the archaeological record and poorly studied. This seminar aims at illustrating the scientific approach we set up within the project REVEAL for the comprehension of macrolithic tools’ function and the processes in which they were involved, exploiting multi-scale morphological analyses, in order to reveal the artefacts complex biography.  The designed research, inspired by the principles of tribology, considers macro to submicron scales imaging techniques to create digital models of the real tools and perform a wide range of surface texture analyses across multiple scales of observation, exploiting, from the largest to the smallest scale, photogrammetry, different resolution microscopy – including SEM – and confocal profilometry.  The case study – Brînzeni I, a cave in north-west Moldova occupied during the Upper Palaeolithic – is relevant when investigating human nutritional habits at the dawn of Anatomically Modern Humans emergence in Eurasia. Pros and cons of the different quantitative techniques are discussed, to propose general conclusions of interest also for other archaeological applications.


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Giusi Sorrentino - Università di Torino