Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Robert H. Tykot, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brent R. Weisman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nancy Marie White, Ph.D.


archaeology, lithic, prehistoric tools, sardinia, stone tools


This study focuses on identifying the function of obsidian tools from the Late Neolithic archaeological site of Contraguda on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. The information obtained from use-wear analysis can provide information about changes in subsistence patterns, craft specialization, social differentiation and technology.

This research began by collecting geological samples of obsidian from two of the most exploited sources in the Monte Arci volcanic complex of Sardinia. Subsequently, an experimental set of tools was made from these samples, and they were used to work various raw materials that were presumably available in Sardinia during the Neolithic. Wear patterns were studied on the experimental set utilizing macroscopic and low-power microscopy techniques and were compared to the wear on artifacts excavated from the site of Contraguda. The data obtained from this study were used to identify the function of this site, and complement and refine prior interpretations of human activity in this region. Conducting this study in Sardinian obsidian use wear by utilizing the same geological sources that people during the Neolithic were exploiting provides exceptional data and a perspective that may not be otherwise obtained.

Finally, general information may be gleaned from the experimental and analytical techniques used in this research by others. Macroscopic and low-power microscopy techniques are expedient, inexpensive, and easily used in the field; however, minimal research has been done using low-power techniques relative to high-power or higher-tech methods. This research also addresses the benefits, limits, and feasibility of low-power approaches on their own, as well as in conjunction with other lithic analysis methods.