New approaches to the experimentation on the impact of lithic projectiles points, C Loi, V Brizzi

Tags: fractures, New York, Academic Press, pp, Projectile Points, traces, Point, archaeological record, American Anthropological Association, projectile point, experimental protocol, C. Brizzi, Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueologia de la Universidad de Granada, Vth International Conference, Monte S. Vittoria, Atti del Convegno Nazionale Giovani Archeologi, Archaeology, weapon system, International Series, Ales Loi, University Microfilms Odell, Harvard University, Newsletter of Lithic Technology Special Publication, Monte Arci Obsidian, P. Melis, the International Symposium La Chasse, Loi, Odell-Vereecken, post-impact, Loi C., Federico Halbherr, Brizzi, Journal of Field Archaeology, Ho Ho Nomenclature Committee, Arrow points, Arrow point, wild boar hunting, fatigue, Vittorio Brizzi, experimental protocols, projectile, Dipartimento di Biologia, lithic material, Experimentation, Missouri Archaeological Society, Lithic Technology, Upper Palaeolithic, Functional Analysis, Dipartimento di Storia, procedural variables, reconstruction, Missouri Archaeological Society Ahler, Bibliography Ahler, BAR International, Kinetic Energy
Content: New approaches to the experimentation on the impact of lithic projectiles points Cinzia Loi (*), Vittorio Brizzi (**) (*) Dipartimento di Storia, Universitа di Sassari (**) Dipartimento di Biologia ed Evoluzione, Universitа di Ferrara - Palaeoworking Abstract Traditional ballistic experiments, able to verify the macroscopic and microscopic results of impact on lithic projectile points for comparison with the archaeological record, have been carried out using carcasses or substitute targets placed at a variable distances, from 10 to 20 metres. According to the authors, this practice has limitations. First, the effects of shortrange impacts have not yet been taken into consideration. In this case, the effect of vibrational mechanics on impact generates transversal macro fractures that are generally considered ,,incidental in the literature. Second, modifications occurring immediately after impact on a live target resulting from the wounded animal escaping, from transportation of the carcass by hunters and from removal of the projectile from the animal have not been considered. The adopted experimental protocols have never been completely accepted and some basic elements, such as criteria defining a firm bond between the projectile shaft and the armour, have never been agreed. A sample of archaeological remains found at the Neolithic site of Monte Santa Vittoria (Mount Santa Vittoria), in Neoneli, has allowed the authors to investigate how macroscopic diagnostic indexes on projectile points that are considered valid in the literature may be integrated with those resulting from the application of the protocols mentioned above. Keywords Use-wear analysis, experimental archaeology, terminal ballistic, bow and arrow, impact diagnostics, lithic projectile point ________________________________________ 1
(*) Department of History, University of Sassari (**) Department of Biology and evolution, University of Ferrara, Paleoworking Introduction Experimental ballistics relating to the prehistoric period is carried out through the simulation of hunting, specifically the moment of impact between projectile and prey, so as to carry out comparative analyses with the archaeological record. Fracture patterns on lithic artefacts have long been the subject of experimental and theoretical studies. They have proved very useful in interpreting functional tools from an archaeological, technological and behavioural point of view, with reference to their production, use and abandonment (Ahler 1979, 1989, 1992; Callahan 1979; Dockall 1997). Later, with the introduction of use-wear analysis, a significant frame of reference began to be defined. It allowed damage on tips and margins to be examined by comparison of the archaeological artefact and a specially replicated piece subjected to abrasion wear and fatigue. Developed in Russia, thanks to Semenov (1964), this technique has been applied to a vast collection of lithic material (Odell 1977; Keeley 1980; Vaughan 1985). Blind tests carried out subsequently have provided excellent results (Keeley and Newcomer 1977; Odell and Odell-Vereecken 1981). Fundamental to this process is the investigation of functional aspects, in addition to the morphological/cultural class. The typology of the artefact must be defined and its membership in a use-category classified in function of wear traces. Experimental work specifically devoted to impacts was developed mainly during the years after Semenov. Usewear traces on projectile tips are basically of two kinds: traces of abrasion and of fatigue. Both are diagnostic of fracture mechanics of solid homogeneous structures under static or dynamic loading (Cotterell, Kamminga and Dickson 1985). The first (abrasion) refers to deformation of the surface of the object due to polishing, flattening or blistering but does not correspond to a change in the macroscopic physical shape of the artefact (Buckley 1981: 469-71). The second (fatigue) represents an actual break, visible to the naked eye, which occurs when the mechanical strength of the material which forms the artefact is overcome by impact force. These fractures are divided into 2
longitudinal, lateral and distal transverse processes (snap fractures), crushing, step fractures and spin-off fractures. The traces, whether of abrasion or fatigue, are often associated and are observed in various combinations dependent on how the tool is used, the consistency of the material and its mechanical properties, the type of stress and its duration. In this work, we refer only to fatigue traces. From a morphological point of view, fatigue traces are divided into longitudinal, lateral (burination), basal and transverse processes, while, in mechanical terms, these are classified according to initiation and termination (cone fracture and bending fracture) (Figure1). If the classification of macro-fracture impact summarised here (Figure 1), adopted by the Ho Ho Committee (Ho Ho Nomenclature Committee 1979), is almost universally accepted by scholars, in spite of the debate opened by Keeley (1980), Odell (1986), Vaughan (1985), Newcomer, Grace and Unger-Hamilton (1987), a unique experimental protocol is still lacking. Figure1 3
Impact experimentations as described in the literature The following summary (which brings together, chronologically, major documented experiments) describes briefly the objectives, the number of projectile points and the kinds of target used. It does not distinguish between experiments with lithic and organic points, as the critical issues of the experimental protocol are generally the same. ,,Laboratory' experimentation should always simulate real situations in a controlled and ,,track-able manner. Analysing the methods used by each of these scholars, it appears that artificial targets (seldom described in detail) and carcasses in various states of preservation have been used in different ways and at different distances, as opposed to what is advised above on protocol standardisation. In this summary, only Flenniken (1985) shoots obsidian points (11) into ,,live wild goats. Tyzzer (1936), who was probably the first to experiment with different types of hafting and various fastening systems, investigated the pattern of macroscopic fracture on nine cattle bone tips shot with a bow into wood and soft soil. Ahler (1971), in trying to understand the relationship between formal types and their associated function, carried out a small number of tests on the impact of spears on the ground, while Van Buren (1974) used the ground, grass and wood to test the penetration and precision of 270 spears armed with lithic tips. Arnt and Newcomer (1982) experimented with 20 points of organic material shot with a bow at fresh carcasses of sheep and simulated targets; Barton and Bergman (1982) compared the impact damage of 17 Mesolithic tips on a deer carcass in an attempt to identify differences between geometric microliths hafted solely with mastic, only with binders and with both binders and mastics. Bergman and Newcomer (1983) studied the fracture pattern of 26 lithic tips mounted on arrows resulting from impact on a simulated carcass. Guthrie (1983) performed a comparative test between deer antler points and other organic materials using 50 arrows shot from a compound bow at a moose carcass; Fischer, Vemming Hansen and Rasmussen (1984) were the first to verify, both at a macroscopic and microscopic level, the wear traces of 153 lithic points impacting on simulated carcasses, fresh carcasses of wild boar, woven grass, fish, branches and tree trunks. Flenniken (1985) studied the relationship between the fracture pattern and morphological changes after the first use and recovery of 11 obsidian points on living wild goats while 4
Flenniken and Raymond (1986) continued with the same objective using 30 obsidian points, hafted as arrows, on trees, soft soil and undergrowth. Using a bow and spearthrower, Odell and Cowan (1986) released 80 projectile point (spears and arrows) on a fresh dog carcass to verify the impact of different formal point types. Titmus and Wood (1986) used sand, soft soil, bark and wood to study the relationship between different techniques and wear traces on 34 obsidian points attached to spears. Woods (1988) used sandy soil, gravel, bark and wood to investigate the relationship of form and function of different obsidian points hafted on spears. Cox and Smith (1989) compared the fracture patterns on impact of 21 knife blades and arrows on a fresh carcass of White-tailed deer. Frison (1989) carried out a study of the impact of 7 Clovis points hafted on spears on an elephant carcass. Stodiek (1990) investigated the effect that impact on deer carcasses had on joint interfaces between shafts and 22 bone and antler points. Towner and Warburton (1990) explored differences in wear traces between production and impact using obsidian points hafted on spears on seasoned wood. Shea (1988, 1993) compared experimental traces of use resulting from impact on carcasses of cows, horses, white-tailed deer, gazelle and goat with archaeological evidence comprising more than 100 triangular points of Middle Palaeolithic/Mousterian date. Cattelain and Perpиre (1993) attempted to distinguish between injuries resulting from the impact of armed points hafted on arrows and spears, directing 100 shots against goat carcasses. Chadelle, Geneste and Plisson (1991, 1993), in two sessions, used a bow and crossbow (calibrated to simulate the kinetic energy of a spear-thrower) to compare fractures on more than 400 lithic points resulting from impact on goat carcasses as a function of their size and kinetic energy. Pokines (1993) studied 20 organic tips to observe the patterns of impact indicators on a goat carcass. Knecht (1991, 1993a, 1993b) used 23 bone and antler points hafted on spears in repeated shots at fresh goat carcasses arranged in correct anatomical order, studying the morphology of the impacts of rejuvenated points, which allowed him to identify the necessary parameters (the minimum quantity of energy to penetrate the skin of a goat) to standardise testing; he then investigated the types of fracture on different areas of impact (abdomen, vertebrae, ribs, pelvis, skull and jaw). Callahan (1994), in order to study the properties of the system of fixing shaft and point, shot 32 points hafted on spears and javelins at an elephant carcass. Finally, Knecht, in 1995, with a sample of 90 bone points, released 302 shots at a cow carcass, maintaining the standards established during his 1993 experiment; however, the results have not yet been fully published (Knecht 1997). 5
Experimentation process: material and procedural variables If neglected, the material and procedural factors mentioned can invalidate the experimental process (Figure 2). First, they concern reconstruction of the weapon system, i.e. bow-andarrow or spear-thrower and dart (a reverse engineering procedure), that determines the impact dynamic. Neglecting at the early stages the variables resulting from the choice of one weapon system rather than another can lead to a wrong or useless data-collection (Kooi and Bergman 1997, Brizzi 2005). The difference is evident in the macroscopic and microscopic impact and post-impact effects on the projectile tip and on animal tissue of shooting at carcasses rather than live game. The effect is influenced by dynamic parameters; for example, the motion of the prey could be of the same magnitude as that of the projectile. More critical is the post-impact phase, in which the projectile continues to act within the body cavity through the movement of the prey (the shock of the arrow striking natural obstacles) (Odell and Cowan 1986: 202). The presence of the projectile or any part of it in the wound immediately after impact creates more complex wear traces on the projectile surface than those found during repeated shots on inanimate carcasses. Also, in the post-mortem recovery phase, the action of transporting the carcass, combined with possible attempts by the hunter to remove the arrow from the body, produce fatigue and abrasion traces on the point that are quite different from those resulting from the linear motion of a projectile striking a target. Such variation could, in many cases, affect the validity of an experiment, when fractures generated experimentally are compared with those evident in the archaeological record. The choice of distance from which to shoot is also a fundamental factor due to differences in the mode of impact, point fatigue and test target characterisation. Another limitation of ballistic testing concerns the lack of data from shots carried out over short and very short distances, a situation likely in hunting, where the hunter releases the arrow against prey ,,driven by, for example, a dog or another human. Under these conditions, the dynamic components of the arrow (vibration mode) change considerably the forces acting on the projectile point at impact. The resulting wear traces are likely to significantly complicate the resulting pattern. Also, shooting at short range (d <3m) satisfies the need to check wear 6
traces on impact points resulting from forces generated in this particular phase of the trajectory (initial acceleration). The impact over short distances is very different, from a dynamic point of view, from shooting at medium range (10 experimental data have been obtained either using carcasses that have been stored in an unknown state or substitute targets. It is easy to understand how the difference between an impact on a live target and on a carcass or on an artificial substitute is sufficient to compromise the validity of the experiment when the experimentally generated fractures are compared with the archaeological record. Thus, the classification of fractures caused by fatigue set by the Ho Ho Committee can be unsatisfactory. 7
Figure 2: Boston Matrix on procedural and material importance in the experimentation process Experimenting on live animals is clearly an ethical problem! However, an increasing number of hunters today use bows legally during the hunting season. Since 2002, the writer, in collaboration with several American and European bowhunter associations and the NBEF (National Bow-hunting Education Foundation), has worked - in the context of the TIPS project (Terminal Impact Projectile Study) - on the processing of data collected through the use, by these associations, of a hunting experimental protocol proposing specific behavioural and instrumental standards. The projects activities are coordinated through a controlled-access web extranet. In Italy, the network is the PalaeoworkingItalian Association for Experimental Archaeology and Primitive Technology, involving several researchers connected to different university laboratories, whose task is to provide the hunters with information and tools and to process the data collected by them. 8
If this procedure, which follows the guidelines of ,,outcome driven analysis, were adopted in the different experimental processes concerning the terminal ballistics, it would allow a holistic and decisive approach to the problems mentioned above. Regarding such arguments, Ashby (1996: 1-4) wrote: "Penetration data collected from real shots, into real tissues, is not a static measurement. Outcomes differ from shot to shot, as the uniformity of tissues encountered change. In the real world it is impossible to control all the variables, and one does not wish to do so. Those variables do exist. They will be encountered. The scholar of abstract science will cite that this testing methodology includes too many variables, but it is precisely because of the multitude of variables that it is necessary. When dealing with infinitely complex variables, only ,,outcome driven information analysis, from a multiplicity of data, provides usable results. This is why the medical community commonly uses ,,outcome driven studies." It is clear that, if the impact of the projectile is with the ground, a rock, a tree or a shrub, the problem does not exist. Although a very wide data-collection can provide statically useful data, some interesting guiding elements have emerged from the existing Data processing (concerning the subset of the arrows with obsidian points) (Table I). As we shall see, they were used to arrive at an interpretation of the lithic industry found in the Mount Santa Vittoria in Neoneli (OR) and to generate hypotheses regarding the local hunters behaviour. The Site The Santa Vittoria settlement, located on the tabular peak of Mount S. Vittoria (Figure 3), in a dominant position (824 metres above sea level), on the border between Neoneli and Nughedu S. Vittoria territories, in Barigadu (Central Sardinia), is within the naturalistic Oasis of Assai Nature Reserve (Loi, in press). 9
Figure 3: Mount Santa Vittoria (Neoneli, OR) The territory, an area with a radius of two kilometres, consists of high hills (601-860 metres above sea level) and is geologically composed of Palaeozoic formations (Loi, b, in press). The Mount S. Vittoria substrate is also characterised by granitic rocks covered by ignimbritic soils. The flora is mainly Mediterranean bush consisting of evergreen sclerophyllous shrubs and, more rarely, arborescent elements. Its rich and varied fauna consists of fallow deer, Sardinian deer and wild boar (Loi and Brizzi, in press). The Santa Vittoria lithic industry, made up of 99 per cent of SC group obsidian, includes 65 arrow points, 357 remains, including end and side scrapers, blades and several undifferentiated cutting edges. The arrow points, leaf-shaped or stemmed, have offered many cues of research. Some show more or less relevant damage at the distal end while others have fractures in the stem and in the shoulders (Figure 4). Concerning size and weight, they should that be 18 or 40 millimetres long (Figure 5) and their estimated mass can vary from two to six grams. The most common type is the stemmed bifacial point with more or less prominent shoulders. The examined arrowheads have a lenticular plan or convex sections. The retouch is flat and intrusive, in certain cases serial and oblique. The identified macro-fractures highlight several indicators of impact and an extraordinary percentage of fractures due to stem 10
bending (snap fracture) (Figure 6, 7) by comparison to those from different experimental sessions. In fact, some of these remains have been replicated, hafted in arrow shafts and thrown to animal carcasses. Figure 4: Some examples of arrowheads discovered at S. Vittoria, with snap fractures in the stem 11
Figure 5: Arrow point, original and suspected length Figure 6: Macro wear traces synthesis on Arrow points sample Figure 7: Localization of macro-wear traces on Arrow point sample 12
The experimentation Data from the functional analysis were integrated with new determinations resulting from ballistic testing focusing on the sample of arrow points. The completeness of the available data, derived from experimental analysis, enables us to make some comments on the site under consideration that will help stimulate debate on land use at various stages of prehistory. We have reproduced - using the same raw material (obsidian group SC-Pau) - the lithic sample and tested it on hafted shafts, according to the protocols adopted by other researchers (Fisher, Hansen and Rasmussen 1984; Odell and Cowan 1986) .We carried out two sessions of ballistic testing. One of the critical elements examined was the interface between shaft and arrowhead (hafting), which depends on the stability of the junction between the components and, in this case, comprised a V-shaped connection and a mastic composed of pine, ochre and beeswax in the proportions 60­20­20. The distal part of the shaft was reinforced with bovine tendon. Care was taken to minimise this bonding mass while ensuring a uniform structural solidity. In fact, the arrows, using bows of varying strength (from 45 to 79 pounds of draw-force [200.2­ 351.4 N]) and arrows of between 35 and 60 grams mass, with an output velocity of between 45 and 70 metres per second, were shot at a wild boar carcass (prior to rigor mortis and positioned so that the joints were exposed and contracted) from both medium range (first session - for comparison with results published by other cited authors) and very close range (second session). It is clear that the ,,real hunting situation testing itself provides a set of causes generating the entire pattern ,,for fatigue, including evidence obtained from shots at very close range. The purpose of the experimental session was to isolate the phenomenon so as to acquire specific data. With that information, experimental observation of fractures due to shortrange shooting would acquire a more decisive statistical significance. To these experimental results (derived from static situations) we have added data obtained from observations in real deer and wild boar hunting situations, collected in the TIPS project (Table II). 13
Table I: Data extract from the TIPS project (2002­6) (*) not consistently considered diagnostic in the literature Table II: Summary of experimental and hunting data (*) not consistently considered diagnostic in the literature Tests carried out on the carcass at a distance of 20 metres (first session) produced results compatible with those of Odell and Cowan (1986) and Fisher, Vemming Hansen and Rasmussen (1982), especially as regards ,,diagnostic fractures. However, the most interesting observation relates to the difference between the results on the carcass at an average distance (first session, 20 metres), those at a very short distance (second session) and real hunting situations, where the snap fractures appeared at least five times more frequently in the proximal portion of the stem. 14
The experimental outcome shows substantial confirmation of the data observed in the test sample, considering the integration of experimental data from short-range shots. Noting that, in all the S. Vittoria lithic remains, in addition to the sample examined, a high number of point fragments showed obvious snap fractures, enables us to expand our comment to the total lithic repertoire. This finding suggests to us the opportunity to include these types of fractures among the diagnostic index as an integral and direct result of hunting activities. Indeed, experimentation has not considered, at least so far, events outside the ,,simple impact with an inanimate body from medium range. That is to say, even microscopic analysis (of abrasion traces) should take into account these factors. Behavioural hypothesis The points were irretrievably fractured in the sense that they could not have been further reworked and reused against large game. The site presents a classic ,,assemblage of hunting tool remains, scrapers, blade and tips, probably left in anatomical parts or simply abandoned because there was no possibility of reusing them. In fact, most of them have distal fractures, i.e. in the stem. The number of points and their stylistic/technological variability suggest the involvement of a large number of hunters participating in structured and coordinated hunts extending over a considerable period; the high incidence of snap fractures testifies to the probability of brief and very short-range shots and could indicate lengthy transportation of the carcasses with arrows still embedded within them. The arrowheads are very small: their form assumes the use of light arrows (m<25 g) released using very strong bows. This suggests group hunts organised so as to drive animals towards the hunters lying in ambush, where short-range shots could easily have been made, with a large number of arrows released at the prey. A single point of this size would not be sufficient to cause fatal blood loss; more would be needed to achieve the desired result. Matching of fractures resulting from experimentation with the archaeological evidence indicates that the stresses undergone by the sampling arrowhead inside the carcass (post- 15
mortem) could have resulted from driving/ambushing hunting situations where opportunities for shooting at close range are more likely due to the nature of the landscape. On the basis of what has been stated, it may be tentatively suggested that the discovery of a large number of points whose fractures were caused by impact and that were associated with several cutting tools, together with the position of the site (an elevated location allowing a good view of the surrounding area and any approaching fauna or opponents) and investigation of the area, indicates that Santa Vittoria was a butchery site. In such a context, game was likely to be cut into pieces for ease of transportation to villages. Thus, in Santa Vittoria, work was organised and carried out using the cutting edges of different pieces made on site using an unspecialised technique from small cores brought by hunters and discarded when unusable. Mount Santa Vittoria would represent a temporary settlement enabling the long-distance monitoring of any approaching competing groups. Discussion As a matter of fact, the analysis of the trial conditions has clearly demonstrated that the number of variables involved in the investigation of arrows impact on carcasses by means of field simulation is too large for a reasonable and handy functional description of the process. For this reason, a project aiming to find a functional relationship able to allow a direct comparison between experiment and archeological records has to be currently postponed. Setting up a verification standard able to give a tested set of results in a wide range of experimental conditions as found in the practice of hunting should be in fact too much expensive and very difficult to manage. On the other hand, results obtained in condition of "real hunting", in the frame of the T.I.P.S. project, can be used as a phenomenological approach so obtaining a significant increase in the number of potential interpretations of the archeological data, as well as to develop materials and hypotheses about the behavior of the hunters, provided that few additional control procedures were indicated and applied. Coming back to field results, this approach indicates that even considering that point snap fractures (particularly when positioned in the stem) could be due to fortuitous trampling or falling, their high statistical incidence resulting from "real hunting" experiments and in short-distance tests, strongly suggests that kind of tools breaking as potentially originated in current hunting activity too. As a consequence, a careful examination of the Santa Vittoria 16
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Title: New approaches to the experimentation on the impact of lithic projectiles points
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