Take a closer look: Advantages and disadvantages of tridimensional traceological analysis of use wear on bone retouchers
Bone retouchers are part of the human toolkit since the Lower Palaeolithic. These tools are essential to the understanding of lithic technology and raw materials exploitation in both Neanderthal and Sapiens cultural complexes. They are also considered to be among the first bone tools ever made. On account of their great morphological variability and the lack of any standardised shaping, bone retouchers are often classified as expediential tools rather than a true bone industry. The present work proposes a new approach to the traceological study of bone retouchers through the application of tridimensional digital microscopy. The results show several advantages in the identification and description of the retouch-induced use wear. The comparison with the currently applied methodology suggests the need to rethink the whole approach to this bone industry. By means of a more in-depth traceological and technological study procedure, bone retouchers can potentially play a crucial role in understanding the subsistence strategies of human groups throughout Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic.