Experimental design and inference in lithic studies: a controlled experiment perspective. Sam C. Lin

published: 29 Oct 2015  |  
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  • SESSION 10 – Stirring the wheel on human behavior: Mechanical devices for testing material performance
    Experimental design and inference in lithic studies: a controlled experiment perspective

    In this study, we examine the nature of scientific experiment and how conventional knapping experiments depart from its criteria. More importantly, the potential consequence of such departure on the archaeological applicability of the experimental outcome is considered. We then discuss our experience in implementing a more controlled, objective experimental design to study the formation of stone flakes through the use of a mechanical apparatus.

    The research design has successfully verified the effects of several important factors associated with flake formation under controlled setting. However, we also frequently encountered both theoretical and practical challenges in conducting controlled lithic experiments, namely the operationalization of variables, interpretation of complex interactions among variables, and comparability with archaeological artifacts. We argue that while the use of mechanical device in lithic experimentation is important, researchers also need to be aware of the ramifications of their experimental design on the inferential validity and applicability of the experimental result.

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