debitage – waste products of making stone tools

Debitage may look like a word from the worlds of finance or fashion, but it actually comes from the world of archeology. Debitage refers to the waste products of making stone tools, everything from large flakes to dust. It is easy to understand why archeologists would be interested in studying the tools themselves, but there is lots of information to be gleaned from debitage also.

I recently read Flintknapping: Making & Understanding Stone Tools (1994) by John C. Whittaker and was interested to learn that modern flintknappers use details gleaned from the tools and debitage to help them with the re-creation of ancient tools. Some pretty sophisticated techniques were developed to create ancient stone tools and subtle differences in technique can help archeologists draw conclusions about the people who made the tools and place them in context of human history.

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