Rock type variability and impact fracture formation: Working towards a more robust macrofracture method

Justin Pargeter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Investigations into the development of weapon systems are increasingly important in archaeological debates about human evolution and behavioural variability. 'Diagnostic' impact fractures are key, but controversial, lines of evidence commonly used in such investigations. In 2009 a series of experiments was initiated to investigate the processes associated with macrofracture formation specifically focussing on the taphonomic factors affecting the formation of 'diagnostic' impact fractures (DIFs). This paper adds to that experimental data set with macrofracture results from recent knapping experiments investigating rock type variability and DIF formation. These results show that rock type variation plays less of a role in DIF formation than variables related to use and lithic taphonomy. The collective results of this experimental series show that the location, co-occurrence, type and proximity to retouch on a tool are all important means of distinguishing between weapon and non-weapon related DIFs. Collectively these macrofracture patterns are more important in diagnosing weapon components than any one 'diagnostic' impact fracture is alone. Overall, these experimental studies are showing that background 'noise' in the form of non-hunting related impact fractures, exists in many macrofracture results and that much work remains in securing the analytical robusticity of the method. The paper concludes that the macrofracture method is not a stand-alone method, but when used with caution and in conjunction with other lines of evidence it is a useful, time-efficient, tool for generating assemblage-level use-trace data.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)4056-4065
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
    Issue number11
    StatePublished - Nov 2013


    • Diagnostic impact fractures
    • Experimental archaeology
    • Hunting
    • Knapping
    • Macrofractures
    • Rock types
    • Stone tool replication
    • Taphonomy
    • Use-wear

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Archaeology
    • Archaeology


    Dive into the research topics of 'Rock type variability and impact fracture formation: Working towards a more robust macrofracture method'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this