Microflint in archaeological sediments from Boker Tachtit, Israel: A new method for quantifying concentrations of small flint fragments

Publication date: March 2018Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 91
Author(s): Zane Stepka, Omry Barzilai, Steve Weiner, Elisabetta Boaretto
Flint is one of the most common rock types used for producing stone tools. During flint knapping huge amounts of microscopic sized flint particles are produced. Thus the presence of high concentrations of microflint in a sedimentary layer, could be a good indication that flint was knapped at that location. We have developed and tested a method for quantification of microflint concentrations in sediments. The method involves concentrating the microflints in specific density fractions, and then counting a representative proportion of the flint fragments using a polarized light microscope. We show that the method successfully identifies a knapping layer in an Initial Upper Palaeolithic level at the site of Boker Tachtit, Israel. This level also contains macroscopic flint debitage, including refitted artifacts. Microflint quantification can aid in identifying knapping areas and be useful for better understanding site formation processes.