Use-wear experimental studies for differentiating flint tools processing bamboo from wood
Bamboo is widespread in south China and is one of the major organic resources in daily use through history due to its similar potential use value as wood. Due to the unfavourable preservation conditions and taphonomic alteration, the rare discovery of well-preserved organic remains from Palaeolithic sites means there is a lack of direct studies on the technology and behaviour of early prehistoric humans. Use-wear analysis has been proved as a reliable method to detect evidence left by working wood and bamboo on stone artefacts. This study aims to provide an experimental reference of use-wear features and patterns to identify and interpret the exploration of bamboo and wood resources in prehistory. In this experiment, 12 flint flakes were selected for processing bamboo stems and pine branches with working motions of whittling, sawing, and chopping. The results show that the use-wear features, including edge scarring, edge rounding, and polish, of bamboo-working and wood-working are distinctive. Edge scarring is closely related to the working motion, and moderate bright to very bright polish is a significant feature associated with bamboo-working. It is possible to distinguish wear traces caused by bamboo-working from those by wood-processing through
a combination of low-power and high-power techniques under a 3D digital microscope.
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