Artifact of the Week: Debitage

During the process of making stone tools, knappers produce many waste flakes. These tiny flakes and stone shatter are called debitage. By studying debitage archaeologists can gain a better understanding of how tools were made and what materials were preferred.

Debitage can include flakes, shatter, and dust, although archaeologists rarely collect dust. Shatter, or angular debris, is flaking debris that does not show the usual features of flakes.

Archaeologists used to consider debitage to be waste products. However, use-wear analysis indicates many unmodified flakes were used as tools and may have been the desired end products of specific flaking events.

Date: San Dieguito Complex (10,000 ya – 7,500 ya)
Material Class: Lithics – Chipped Stone

Want to learn more? Visit the exhibit By Land and By Sea currently on view at the Center.