Lithics for the Budding Archaeologist


What did we do before computers and electricity? What about before steel, iron, bronze, and copper? Lithics (stone tools) are the oldest preserved human technology and are the main evidence of human behavior over the last 2.5 million years.

This course offers students an introduction into archaeological lithic analysis, as well as basic archaeological methods and theories. Students will learn about how rocks break, quarrying, lithic manufacture, classification, typology, and the role of lithics in cultural systems.

See intro video


Scott Minchak

Class Details

Live Class: No

Frequency: Weekly, 90 minutes

Assignments: Weekly assignments

Duration: 15 weeks

Student Expectations:
Project/discussion-based class. Students submit weekly assignments for feedback and then present live a comprehensive "student showcase" based on a theme.

Student Support:
Teacher is available via email or by appointment, as well as through question and answer segments online.

Feedback will be provided on weekly assignments and projects. Grade recommendations are optional.

Blackboard will be the primary software used for demonstration/instruction. Students need some kind of office software. Any can be used to complete assignments; however, students are responsible for resolving and working out any accommodations necessary due to differences in the software or versions.

Students should be comfortable navigating basic computer functions.

For Ages:

Class 1: Intro, Course Requirements, and the Basics: What is an artifact?
Class 2: When making a stone tool, what do you use? Chert, Flint, and Why Rocks Break
Class 3: Anatomy of a Flake: Ways to Make Stone Tools
Class 4: Humans in Deep Time: From Where We Were to Where We Are
Class 5: Lithic Quarries: Where do you get your rocks?
Class 6: Biface Technology: Arrows and Darts
Class 7: Core, Blade, and Tranchet: The Swiss Army Knife of Stone Tools
Class 8: Review and MID-TERM EXAM
Class 9: Use-Wear: How were stone tools used, and on what were they used?
Class 10: Analysis of Lithics from Hunter-Gatherer Groups
Class 11: Analysis of Lithics from Complex Societies
Class 12: Groundstone
Class 13: Trade and Exchange: Where did the stone tools go, and how do we know?
Class 14: Looking Back and Forward
Class 15: Review and FINAL EXAM