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Arctic Small Tool tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The first coastal dwellers of the true Arctic regions who appeared before 2200 BC and who had a hunting tradition and a distinctive set of stone tools, weapon tips, and adzes of small size (hence the name). Their sites stretched from the Bering Sea across the north Canadian coast as far east as northernmost Greenland, though there is no evidence of sleds or boats. Within a century or two of 2000 BC, they also expanded southward in Alaska to the Alaska Peninsula and south along the northeastern American coast to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Denbigh Flint Complex (or Arctic Denbigh culture, named for the type site Cape Denbigh, Alaska) is the characteristic tool assemblage. It included small chipped stone artifacts derived from Neolithic eastern Siberia - such as blades, microblades, burins, scrapers, large bifacial projectile points. There was no pottery and the economics were balanced between products of the land (caribou, lake and river fish, musk ox) and sea mammals. Approximate dates range from 4000-1000 BC and this tradition is thought to be associated with ancestral Eskimo. In Canada and Greenland, the Small Tool people gradually developed into the Dorset culture. In Alaska, the Small Tool people disappeared and were replaced by 400 BC by people of the Norton culture who used Siberian-type pottery.
Australian Core Tool and Scraper Tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A late Pleistocene and Holocene stone tool industry of mainland Australia and Tasmania with artifacts dating from 30,000 BC (at Lake Mungo). The industry was characterized by high-domed chunky cores (called 'horsehoof cores') and steep-edge flake scrapers. The industry has close parallels in the islands of Southeast Asia.
Australian Small Tool Tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A mid-Holocene tool industry of the Australian Aborigines that appeared some 3000-4000 years ago when those peoples began to use a new ensemble of small, flaked stone tools (although adze flakes first appeared possibly 2000 years earlier). The types consisted of backed blades and flakes, unifacial and bifacial points, and small adze flakes. There are some regional distributions of tools, including Bondi points, geometric microliths, Pirri points, and Tula adzes. All except the Bondi points and geometric microliths were still in use as parts of wooden weapons and tools at the time of European contact. The industry has close parallels in the islands of Southeast Asia, especially in the microliths of southwestern Sulawesi from 4000 BC.
DEFINITION: Earth-cut fish-trap system in southwest Victoria, Australia, of unknown antiquity.
all-purpose tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A rare stone artifact that could be used for perforating, cutting, and scraping - normally larger than a thumb scraper or a drill but smaller than a large knife or scraper. It always has one end worked to a point for perforation with the opposite end worked in the form of an end scraper. One side is worked rather delicately for use as a knife. It is almost always oblong in shape.
blade tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A tool made from a single thin narrow flake detached from a core. The controlled flaking technique is characteristic of the Upper Palaeolithic but it is also known from earlier cultures.
casual tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Object used as a tool once or twice for a specific purpose and discarded with no purposeful modification
chasing tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A kind of punch used in metalworking to create repousse style ornament.
chipped stone tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Any tool produced by flaking or chipping of pieces from a stone core to produce an implement.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A stool or chair containing a chamber pot
composite tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A tool formed of two or more joined parts, e.g. composite toggling harpoon head.
compound tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Any tool made of two or more different materials, such as a bone harpoon with stone points and barbs set in it, or a wooden arrow with a shaped stone point.
core tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A stone tool, such as a hand-ax, chopper, or scraper, formed by chipping away flakes from a core. These tools, often large and relatively heavy, were characteristic of Paleolithic the culture. They were made by using a pebble, antler, or bone hammer.
cutting tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Any tool used for cutting, gouging, shaving, piercing, scraping, and sawing.
edge-ground stone tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A tool classification of Pleistocene northern Australia and New Guinea and Southeast Asia comprised of hatchets, flakes, and other tools. Important sites include Nawamoyn, Malangangerr, Arnhem Land, Cape York, New Guinea Highlands. Edge-ground tools do not appear until the late Holocene elsewhere in Australia; they are completely absent from Tasmania. In Southeast Asia, it comprises flaked stone tools which are sharpened by grinding or polishing the cutting edge only. They existed in the Bacsonian and Hoabhinian periods.
expedient tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Any tool formed quickly and for immediate use, often made with a flake.
flaking tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A tool, such as an antler billet, or antler drift, which was used in removing flakes during the manufacture of a flaked stone projectile, tool, blade or artifact.
ground stone tool
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ground stone, polished tool, ground-stone artifact, groundstone
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A class of lithic (stone) artifacts produced by abrasion - grinding or pecking - and formed into a tool or vessel. Granite, pumice, and steatite fall into this class. Manos, metates, mortars, and pestles are common ground stone artifacts. Ground stone tools used to crush, pound, grind, or otherwise process materials are also commonly referred to as milling implements.
pebble tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A simple form of stone cutting tool, the oldest type of tool made by forerunners of modern humans. The tool consists of a rounded stone struck a number of blows with a similar stone used as a pounder, which created a serrated crest that served as a chopping blade. The core is only slightly altered by striking off a few small flakes. The most typical are choppers and chopping tools. These tools could be used as crude hunting knives, to grub roots, and for other purposes. The oldest examples are perhaps 2 to 2 1/2 million years old, from sites like the Omo Valley and Hadar in Ethiopia. Those found in large numbers in Olduvai Gorge, in Tanganyika, are universally accepted as eoliths, dating back man's history to 1,000,000 years ago. By a process of refinement these pebble tools developed into the handaxes of Africa, Europe, and southwest Asia, and into the chopping tools of the Far East.
polished tool
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ground stone tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Any artifact made by the pecking or grinding of hard stones. The Neolithic Period was the first widespread used of polished rock tools, notably axes, with the adoption of a new technique of stoneworking. The revolutionary method used to create polished tools was essentially a finishing process that slicked a chipped tool by rubbing it on or with an abrasive rock to remove the scars of the chipping process that had produced the rough tool. Not only was the edge keener, but the smooth sides of the edge also promoted deeper penetration, with the added advantage of easier tool extraction from a deep wedged cut.
scraping tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A stone tool used to remove fat from the interior of an animal hide
simple tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An artifact consisting of a single part.
stone tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A tool made of stone, either ground stone or chipped stone; a lithic artifact.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Any existing physical object that is in some way fashioned or altered by humans and employed for a specific task or purpose. Tools made of stone included of axes, adzes, arrowheads, spearheads, daggers, knife blades, scrapers, borers, burins, picks, etc. The first tools date back to c 2,600,000 years ago, the beginning of the Paleolithic Age, and are different-sized pebble tools called choppers. The chopper was the only tool used by man for almost 2,000,000 years, until the appearance of the hand ax, a superior (and sharper) version of the chopper.
tool kit
CATEGORY: artifact; lithics
DEFINITION: A term for all the tools used by a given culture for its technology (spatially patterned), or for a set of tools used together for a specific task (functionally patterned).
unifacial tool
CATEGORY: artifact, lithics
DEFINITION: A stone tool flaked in such a way as to produce a cutting edge that is sharp on one side only

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