Burins have long been considered to represent a special class of stone tools, used primarily for engraving. A number of studies, however, have indicated that burins functioned in a variety of very different ways. This study finds evidence that burins were used as cutting/scraping tools, engraving tools, hafting elements, and bladelet cores at three late Pleistocene sites in SW Asia. We suggest that burins should not be considered as a class of tools, but the varied products of a manufacturing technique analogous to retouch. Burination is simply a technique for removing mass from flakes and (more often) blades, serving to modify edges and produce spalls. This has important implications for the interpretation of lithic assemblages from the Upper Paleolithic through the Neolithic.
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