Degree Name

Honours degree of Bachelor of Science


School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences


Alexander Mackay


The adoption of heat treatment as a strategy to improve the workability of stone has long been observed in the archaeological record, commencing in Australia as far back as the late Pleistocene. Several studies have suggested that heat- treated cores tend to produce thinner and sharper tools, however the impact of this technique on their performance over extended periods of use is less well known. It has been hypothesised that the process reduces edge durability due to the increased brittleness of the raw material and the narrower edge profiles that it produces. When used to process hard materials such as wood or bone, heated edges are assumed to exhibit a more rapid loss of performance, leading some to suggest that the technique might have been selectively deployed. The aim of this present study is to test whether heated tools have higher cutting efficiency in a controlled experimental setting and to determine to what extent the performance of heated and unheated tools decline over the period of their use. This study will in turn inform discussions of the functional gains of heat treatment and can be used to complement future experimental studies.

FoR codes (2008)

210102 Archaeological Science



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.