What is it about?

Stone tool use is a significant milestone in human evolution. Using mediation analysis, we show that toolmakers can control stone flakes' size and shape by manipulating platform width. This is a variable previously thought to be of minimal relevance.

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Why is it important?

Our study shows for the first time how platform width can be incorporated into models of stone flake formation. This information clarifies the process by which ancient humans controlled stone flake morphology in stone tool making by changing the striking platform surface. With this knowledge, we show that Neanderthals effectively applied different technological strategies to control flake size and shape 100-60 thousand years ago.


This article shows the significant potential of using cross-disciplinary knowledge (Hertzian cone properties from fracture mechanics) and techniques (mediation analysis from the social sciences) to clarify long-standing questions in Paleolithic archaeology and stone tool research.

Sam Lin
University of Wollongong

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This page is a summary of: The mediating effect of platform width on the size and shape of stone flakes, PLoS ONE, January 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0262920.
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