Lithic Tools at the World’s Columbian Exposition

“Lithic Tools at the World’s Columbian Exposition”
Yuyang Wang (Penn EALC)

The stone objects in the World’s Columbian Exposition collection of the Penn Museum offer valuable information about lithic tool manufacture in prehistoric Japan. Although most of these tools cannot be dated to a specific period, they definitely came from the pre-Jōmon and Jōmon periods. People designed and produced these tools for specific needs and understanding the raw material and manufacturing techniques would help elucidate the important role of lithic production in a hunter-gatherer society. The Penn collection includes about 56 lithic tools of various kinds, including hammerstones, scrapers, drills, adzes, and so on. The lack of excavation reports or descriptions makes it difficult to identify the rock types used to make these tools, complicating the investigation of lithic production as a whole. This paper aims to identify the rock types in these tools and to provide a basic description of the material. Since the objects are artifacts, not samples, we did not perform any scientific experiments or collect any data.  But we did use petrographic methods and a Scanning Electronic Microscope (SEM).  This paper will analyze the choice of rock types, specific tools, and geographic origins of the objects as a reflection of Japanese knowledge of prehistoric society.

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