A Technological Analysis of a Neolithic Lithic Workshop at Bai Ben, Vietnam

Nguyen, Dong (2007). A Technological Analysis of a Neolithic Lithic Workshop at Bai Ben, Vietnam PhD Thesis, School of Social Science , University of Queensland.

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Author Nguyen, Dong
Thesis Title A Technological Analysis of a Neolithic Lithic Workshop at Bai Ben, Vietnam
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Science
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Christopher Clarkson
Abstract/Summary This thesis investigates the issue of how stone ‘drill points’ were manufactured at the Late Neolithic workshop of Bai Ben, Northeastern Vietnam, from a technological perspective, and with the aim of understanding the organisation of technology at the site. Within this organisational approach, the issue is investigated in a comprehensive manner from raw material procurement to drill manufacture, use, maintenance, and discard. Attribute based statistical methods are developed to observe the time-ordering of dimensional and morphological changes of classes of cores and drills with the ultimate aim of reconstructing the reduction sequences so that the position of drill points within these sequences is better identified. The analyses show that raw material used to produce drill points is variable in size as well as locally available and readily accessible in the region. The availability and the variation of raw material size are in turn shown to be key factors that strongly affect the whole process of core reduction at Bai Ben. It can be seen in both freehand and bipolar core populations that there is not a simple single reduction trajectory but a complex reduction process that involves reduction sequences of varying lengths. Raw material of different sizes could be transformed either by first employing freehand percussion followed by bipolar percussion, or by directly employing a bipolar technique. Cores could be discarded at many points along the reduction continuum, creating a complex pattern of core size and reduction intensity. In contrast to core reduction, drill reduction was not substantially influenced by raw material selection, but by the initial size and shape of drill blanks. This determined how much reduction was necessary to create a standardized product. The time-ordering of dimensional and morphological changes in various artefact classes thus permits us to understand the causes of assemblage variability at the site. This research represents the first application of a technological approach to the archaeological record of Vietnam. This study illustrates the benefits of conducting future technological investigations at the numerous other workshop sites known from Vietnam. It is argued that such investigations are required to build an understanding of the nature and importance of specialized lithic activities, trade, and exchange in this period of significant cultural change.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 16:32:08 EST