Hands on Prehistory – Allen Denoyer

Allen Denoyer demonstrating flintknapping at Casa Grande Ruins

Experimental archaeology provides a wealth of information that helps archaeologists reconstruct the past.  Information gained from experimental studies is often crucial for understanding prehistoric technologies, especially those technologies that are no longer practiced by living people.  In addition to providing information useful to archaeologists for an academic understanding of the past, experimental archaeology provides a way for the public to experience prehistoric technologies first-hand.  This first-hand experience makes archaeology much more relevant to non-archaeologists, and gives the public a better understanding of, and respect for, artifacts and archaeological sites.  In this presentation I will discuss some of the ways experimental archaeology can help in the understanding of prehistory. I will describe several projects in which I have collaborated with other researchers to provide the experimental data necessary for answering research questions about prehistoric technology.  Many of these projects have involved the production of flaked and ground stone tools using only those tool types used prehistorically.  For instance, projects have involved manufacturing bifaces and projectile points to specific shapes and sizes using various reduction strategies that allow comparison of flake breakage between different tool and raw material types. One of the projects looked at the difference in penetration depth between arrows using stone points as opposed to simply sharpened wooden arrow shafts. This experiment was filmed for the popular “Myth Busters” television show.  I will also have examples of artifacts I have replicated for people to look at and handle

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