Curation and Recycling: Estimating Paleoindian Endscraper Curation Rates at Nobles Pond, Ohio, USA

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Publication Date

Spring 3-10-2015


Reduction, recycling, and other changes that stone tools experienced during their use lives reflect design, circumstance and opportunity. The result is discarded artifacts whose sizes and shapes are plain to see and easy to measure. If we can infer their original size, we also can determine tools' degree of reduction from first use to that discard. The difference between original and discarded size reflects curation, which itself subsumes the concept and practice of recycling. Endscrapers are a common retouched-tool type both in North American Paleoindian and Old World Paleolithic assemblages. In this pilot study, we estimate degree of reduction in a sample of unifacial endscrapers from the Nobles Pond Paleoindian site in Ohio, USA. Also, we demonstrate how resulting curation measures can be fitted to the Weibull and other statistical models, not for the sake of mere mathematical virtuosity but to compare curation rate and implicate different failure processes between data sets. Compared to an experimental known, failure in Nobles Pond endscrapers is characterized by attrition, thus fits a Weibull model whose shape parameter β > 1. This result is useful for comparison between assemblages and for modeling how the record formed. The better we can estimate original size of discarded retouched tools, the better we can gauge curation and exploit the value of this theoretical concept.

Publication Title

Quaternary International



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