Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (06): 994-1004.doi: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2022.0008

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Blind test experiments in the technological interpretation of lithic artifacts

ZHANG Yuzhe1,2,3(), TONG Guang1,2,3, ZHANG Yueshu1,2,3, HU Xiaochun1,2,3, LI Feng1,3,4()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3. CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing 100044
    4. School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, Beijing 100871
  • Received:2021-07-14 Revised:2021-10-28 Online:2022-12-15 Published:2022-12-19
  • Contact: LI Feng;


Over the last 60 years lithic analysis has advanced tremendously, which has led to solid theoretical foundations and mature operating processes. By using lithic analysis, researchers can investigate human behavior, cognitive ability, subsistence patterns and more. Interpreting technological features is an essential way to study and understand lithics. The basis of technological interpretation is the reduction sequence, which serves as the foundation for studying the entire lithic assemblage’s debitage. Increasing the accuracy of technological interpretation is, without a doubt, an objective that researchers must continually purse. It is generally believed that raw materials, the number of scars on lithic artifacts and the experience of researchers are key factors affecting the accuracy of technological interpretation. Although refitting analysis can test the conclusion of technological interpretation to a certain extent, not all unearthed lithics qualify for this type of analysis. Systematic guidance and rich research experience can effectively improve the accuracy of researchers’ recognition of technological features of artifacts and thus improve technological interpretations. While experience is difficult to quantify and intuitively display, accuracy of lithic technological interpretation is often ignored. In most interpretations, results are usually considered to be completely correct, a point that is also worthy of further discussion. So, is there a way to intuitively show the credibility of technological analysis and help researchers improve the accuracy of their technological reading? This research uses a similar approach in use-wear analysis to conduct a blind test of technical interpretation on experimentally knapped dolomite and quartzite pebbles found near the Shuidonggou site in Ningxia. This study uncovers elements impacting technological reading precision, through the phases of knapping experiments, preliminary technological interpretation, refitting analysis and correction of initial studies, and repeatability of technological interpretations. It also outlines ways for improving technological interpretation accuracy, as well as a brief discussion on the value of the blind test experiment.

Key words: lithics, technology, experimental archaeology, knapping sequences

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