An Experimental Trace and Residue Reference Library for the functional analysis of stone tools in Liège

The experimental reference library for wear traces and residues on stone tools that has been created at TraceoLab, University of Liège, Belgium, has been named TRAIL (“Traces In Liège”) and intends to provide a route (a trail) towards improved understanding of archaeological wear traces and residues. Through that means, it aims to contribute to insight into prehistoric stone tools, technologies, site function and past human behaviour. TRAIL has been gradually build up since the creation of TraceoLab in 2012.

The initial core of TRAIL is formed by the experimental reference collection of Veerle Rots that she created during her previous research, including her PhD research (2002a; see also Rots 2010a). This part of the collection consists of about 1400 pieces. Since 2012, efforts have been invested in the development of this collection within the framework of archaeological investigations and largely thanks to the involvement of Christian Lepers, an experienced primitive technologist, in the group TraceoLab. As a result, the TraceoLab reference collection currently (i.e., April 2021) consist of about 5800 stone tools, each of which is part of a particular experiment focused on one broader topic. The combination of these multiple experiments provides a reliable reference framework to identify and interpret functional evidence on archaeological stone tools. Different parts of the collection have been published, generally within the context of the research in which they were performed, and further details will be gradually shared as research continues.

For some further general details on TRAIL, see:

Rots, Veerle. 2021. “TRAIL – an Experimental Trace and Residue Reference Library for the Functional Analysis of Stone Tools in Liège.” OSF Preprints. April 26.