How do archaeologists "know" that a stone that they find is actually a tool?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Basically, archaeologists know that something is a tool because they know what a tool is supposed to look like.  Archaeologists have done a lot of practicing with making stone tools of their own.  Because they have done this, they know what the distinguishing characteristics of such things are.  In particular, they know what it looks like when you hit a stone with another stone to shape the first stone.  This leaves characteristic marks from the percussive blows.

By making their own stone tools, archaeologists have learned what marks are left by the intentional shaping of stone.  That is how they can tell when a stone has been shaped on purpose rather than simply having been split by natural processes.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial