Surface roughness as a quantitative approach to use-wear on macrolithic tools: A comparative analysis

Selina Delgado-Raack, Jorge Menasanch de Tobaruela, Italo Bettinardi, José Antonio Soldevilla, Roberto Risch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Use-wear analysis has been a well-established aspect of the study of artefact biography for decades, and it has recently developed along two different, though complementary methodological paths. While the classical or qualitative approach still relies largely on the experience gained from the combination of experimental tests, tribological principles and visual observation, new attempts try to define quantitative surface signatures. Surface topography and roughness analyses should allow one to associate surfaces to specific uses and warrant comparability and reproducibility of obtained datasets beyond textual descriptions and images. This approach is highly relevant to use-wear studies of macrolithic tools, where different techniques have made use of the available high-resolution devices. However, no systematic approach has been published yet with the aim of evaluating the operating capacity of the different systems and techniques. Consequently, the precision as well as the resolution of the data obtained and the comparability between results is questionable because of the complexity of the available technical options. The present study offers a method for surface roughness quantification of macrolithic tools and compares the results achieved with different 3D modeling devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103645
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Confocal microscopy
  • Laser scanning
  • Macrolithic artefacts
  • Photogrammetry
  • Surface roughness analysis
  • Use-wear analysis


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