Scepticism as to the potential of stone artefacts to contribute to an understanding of the processes that underlie cultural behaviour has been voiced in the literature since archaeology was first orientated around anthropological aims. A consequence of these doubts is the current reluctance among lithic analysts to move beyond the description of stoneworking technology to the investigation of the organisation of technology in the broader cultural context.
This study demonstrated that, by using a framework that considers the relationship between technological strategies and socio-economic organisation, lithic analysis can be used to investigate questions of broader anthropological significance. The utility of this approach is demonstrated with the analysis of stone artefact assemblage from an archaeological site, Narcurrer, in south-eastern South Australia.
A model for socio-economic change for Narcurrer was constructed from fauna! and taphonomic evidence by Barker (1987). Barker proposed that around 1000 BP the people using Narccurrer underwent a shift in subsistence-settlement strategy involving reduced mobility and an expansion of the resource base. This proposition was tested through the construction of a predictive model that related mobility patterns to the organisation of stoneworking technology and predicted the archaeological consequences.
The analysis supported Barker's hypothesis and enabled an understanding of how technological plans integrated with the social and economic strategies of the people using Narcurrer. The study also revealed implications for lithic analysis in Australia, including recent attempts to construct relative dating systems based on technological attributes.