Dr. Metin Eren awarded grant from the National Science Foundation!
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Metin Eren and his colleagues Drs. Brett Story and Briggs Buchanon on their NSF award, "Collaborative Research: The role of function in traditional weapon design"!!
The goal of this project is to understand the role that function plays in traditional weaponry design. It will investigate the evolution of Ice Age stone tool weaponry, dated to13,500 to 12,500 years, used by hunter-gatherers in the colonization of North America. The weapons, stone point tips attached to spears and called "Clovis points" by archaeologists, were flintknapped into specimens with parallel to slightly convex sides, a concave base, and flake-removal scars; termed "flutes." These flutes occur on one or both faces and on average extend from the base to about a third of the way to the tip. These points are found across North America, having spread widely and rapidly at an unprecedented rate. During this expansion over space, across time, and in different environments the size and shape of Clovis points changed significantly. Archaeologists know that cultural drift contributed to this variation, but is it possible that this single source could alone generate so much variation so quickly? Or are multiple sources, for example cultural drift + functional changes, necessary to so rapidly give rise to such variety? If functional differences are found among different forms of Clovis points, it follows that Clovis people in different times and places may have chosen specific attributes to provide them with a selective functional advantage. The project will contribute to the overall understanding of how and why weapons evolve among small, mobile, isolated groups of humans ; a fundamental anthropological question of broad archaeological and ethnographic relevance, as well as to many situations in the present day. Furthermore, since the peopling of the Americas was part of the broader late Pleistocene global dispersal of human out of Africa, this project will ultimately advance the understanding of the behavioral and technological adaptations that determined how our species came to so successfully colonize the planet. The investigators will examine whether different sizes and shapes of Clovis points possess any functional advantages or disadvantages. Through a series of realistic hunting-related experiments in conjunction with a series of controlled engineering experiments, the researchers will determine the prey penetration-ability, aerodynamics, durability, fracture mechanics, and cutting-efficiency of replica Clovis points of varying forms.