Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A preliminary first draft of our aims for the year:

Group Aims:
1. To further our knowledge of prehistoric stoneworking through a research programme of experimental lithic production.
2. To educate ourselves, other archaeologists and the public about prehistoric stoneworking.

Project Title:
Experimental Stoneworking – Exploring Tasks from Early Prehistory

Main Research Themes & Questions:
1. Scalar Stories: from microlith to macrolith in the Irish Mesolithic
a. How do available raw material resources impact upon the production sequence of microliths and macroliths?
b. How does the production of these impact on the production of other elements of toolkits produced from the same nodule?
2. Technological Tasks: stone axe production from early prehistory
a. What is the production sequence of flaked and ground stone axeheads of argillaceous stone?
b. What is the impact of expedient production on functionality?
c. What is the impact of changing lithology on the production sequence and expedience of stone axe production?
3. Tipping Points: projectile technologies and early Irish prehistory
a. How does the production of lithic projectile points of different style impact on the production sequence?
b. How do available raw material resources impact upon the style of projectile points produced?

Subsidiary Research:
It is envisaged that where appropriate our programme of experimental replication will feed into projects undertaken by individual members. For example Bernard will be using the debitage from microlith and macrolith manufacture. Niamh will be using the hammer stones from various experiments as a control group. If we can expand this aspect then please let us know!

Primary lithic production will be focusing on flint with additional working of chert where possible. Axe production will focus on shale, baked shale (IPG Group XXI Mynydd Rhiw, Wales), augite granophyre (IPG Group VII Graig Llywd, Wales) and possibly porcellanite (IPG Group IX, Tievebulliagh & Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland) and porphyritic andesite (Lambay Island, Ireland). We need to organise to collect flint, chert and shale cobbles. I would suggest we organise to collect some beach flint in Antrim but also to collect some beach nodules from other parts of the east coast (maybe an afternoon at Bray?) and maybe try to collect shale cobbles at the same time.
The stones for use as hammers will be selected as needed but we should discuss these and collection strategies for them seeing as previous attempts were somewhat unsuccessful. We will also need access to ash, hazel, sinew, fresh hides and plants such as nettles. We will need access to small amounts of wood for manufacturing handles for pressure flakers and to antler and bone.

We will aim to do 5/6 nights of practice per experiment (Roebuck, Tuesdays 6-9) with a one day formal experiment which would then run on a Saturday and possibly Sunday (UCD experimental space or Ferrycarrig). We aim to undertake the first experiment in Semester 1 and the further two experiments in Semester 2.

We will record our practice sessions informally with photos etc. We will aim to do a full set or recordings for our experimental days with photographs, notes and video. We will record all relevant data for the experimental days and bag each stage of production sequences so that we can analytically reconstruct what we have done.

Facebook Group: focus for online outreach and networking
Youtube Channel: focus for photo slideshows and videos of experimental replication process
Academic Paper: at least one academic publication to start to be written next August focusing on bringing one of our experiments to full publication, possibly in an edition of the Journal of Irish Archaeology or the Lithic Studies Society. It seems that the easiest of our experiments to publish is the one focusing on stone axes.
Meso Miscellany: we will write a brief overview of our activities up for an issue of Mesolithic Miscellany (https://sites.google.com/site/mesolithicmiscellany/) in early 2012.
Archaeology Ireland: submit a short article to Archaeology Ireland outlining some of our ideas/results, possibly in time for the spring or summer 2012 issues.
Conferences: if we are successful with the first experiment we will submit a conference paper to the ‘Where the wild things are’ Conference, Durham, March 2012 (http://www.wildthingsconference.com/) and we will present our stone axe experimental work at one of the future meetings of the implement petrology group (http://implementpetrology.org/).

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