In this paper I explore how post-depositional contaminants and non-use related ancient residues may be distinguished from use-related residues directly associated with the application of ancient artefacts. It is assumed that contaminant and unintentional remains have a random distribution over a tool's surface. Preserved use-related residues, however, are expected to have a consistent spatial distribution around a working edge. To test this, residues on used and unused experimental flakes were recorded after they underwent weathering. The surfaces of the experimental flakes were divided in four quadrants, of roughly equal size. The surface coverage of the residue types per quadrant was then recorded. On used flakes with well preserved residues, the use-related residues are more abundant on portions associated with the sharp edge than on portions associated with blunt sides. On the samples without identified use-related remains and on the unused sample, the distribution of micro-remains is more uniform. This study confirms that by using a contextual approach it is possible to distinguish use-related remains from non-use-related and co-incidental remains.
- Experimental archaeology
- Multi-stranded and contextual approach
- Residue analysis