The mediating effect of platform width on the size and shape of stone flakes
To understand the ways in which past stone knappers controlled the morphology of the flakes they produced, archaeologists have focused on examining the effects of striking platform attributes on flake size and shape. Among the variables commonly considered, platform width has routinely been noted to correlate with flake size and hence used to explain past knapping behaviors. Yet, the influence of platform width on flake variation remains equivocal due to the fact that the attribute is not under the direct control of the knapper. Instead, platform width tends to be treated as a by-product of other independent knapping parameters, such as platform depth. In this study, we hypothesize that platform width acts as an intermediary that intervenes the effect of other independent variables on flake attributes. By analyzing experimental flakes produced under both controlled and replicative settings, the results support the hypothesis that platform width mediates the effect of platform depth on flake width, such that flakes with relatively larger platform widths are generally wider but no longer. This finding provides a way to incorporate platform width into discussions of the interrelationships among knapping variables, and highlights the importance of platform width for investigating how past knappers controlled flake production through platform manipulation.
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European Research Council