Bifaces in plain sight: testing elliptical Fourier analysis in identifying reduction effects on Late Middle Palaeolithic bifacial tools

Kamil Serwatka*

* Institute of Archaeology, Wroclaw University, 48 Szewska Street, PO BOX 50-139 Wroclaw, Poland, Email:

Cite as Serwatka, K. (2015). Bifaces in plain sight: testing elliptical Fourier analysis in identifying reduction effects on Late Middle Palaeolithic bifacial tools. Litikum – Journal of the Lithic Research Roundtable, 3, pp. 13–25.

Abstract. Nowadays, geometric morphometrics are being widely implemented in lithic studies. Their application is driven by the powerful methods of data analysis offered by morphometric computer software. Additionally, computer programs for digital shape analysis are freeware and easy to handle, even for a non-morphometrician. The results achieved with this software yield interesting conclusions and they offer a new perspective on lithic tools. This presents morphometrics as a potentially useful methodological tool in the field of lithic analysis, which often has to deal with artifacts morphology. The aim of this study is to test the utility of basic shape analyses included in the PAST (Palaeontological Statistics) computer program, and especially elliptical Fourier analysis, in identifying reduction effects on Late Middle Palaeolithic bifacial tools. For this purpose, an assemblage of 147 bifacial tools from Southern Poland was analyzed. The sample comprised of Keilmessergruppen handaxes, Keilmesser and Late Middle Palaeolithic leaf points. The results reveal patterned changes in artifacts proportions, which may have been caused by continuous resharpening/reduction as well as by gradual alteration of tools design, due to their changing function.

This study was presented at the 11th SKAM Lithic Workshop: the multifaceted biface – Bifacial technology in Prehistory. 20th-22nd of October, 2014, Miskolc, Hungary. The conference papers are published in the Litikum Journal volumes as special contributions. Informations about the conference as well as the abstract book are available on the SKAM 2014 website:

Keywords: Late Middle Palaeolithic, geometric morphometrics, Keilmesser, handaxes, leaf points

Data availability statement: The author[s] confirm[s] that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article [and/or] its supplementary materials.

Disclosure statement: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

Funding statement: The author received no financial support for the research and/or the publication of this article.

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