The Identification and Recovery of Backing Debitage: A New Method for Detecting Backed Artifact Industries

Amy Mosig Way, Alun Pope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study presents a new method for the detection of backed artifact industries through the identification of backing debitage. The waste flakes produced during backing retouch are found to have a combination of unique attributes that distinguish them from other small retouch and core reduction flakes. Experimentally produced flakes are compared with an assemblage from a mid-late Holocene site in southeastern Australia, which contains multiple backed artifact production events, including a waste-flake-to-backed-artifact refit. It is shown that the waste flakes in the experimental work hold the same diagnostically distinct attributes as the flakes seen in the archaeological assemblage. This provides compelling evidence for the ability to classify backed artifact waste flakes and identify backed artifact production events in the absence of the finished artifact. The small size of the backing debitage and the implications this has for screen size selection are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-50
Number of pages13
JournalLithic Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • backed artifact industries
  • Backing flakes
  • classification
  • identification
  • screen sizes

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