Functional studies of prehistoric artefacts and their socio-economic meaning

The aim of functional studies is to show the potential of the methodological and interpretative issues dealing with archaeological reasoning and their implication in modelling past humankind economic systems.

The main topic of this Commission is devoted to the very complex topics involved in the role played by artefacts in the reconstruction of ancient economic systems. This implies that the reconstruction of past artefacts production and use is not just a matter of re-enactment worked materials, actions, or techniques. What actually functional analysis Commission is concerned of, is dealing with the issues that aimed at understanding the evolution of production techniques and their economical consequences for people that produced and used the artefacts in a social context. Theoretical context of early methodological development of “Traceology” and its acknowledgement as well as different methodological approaches to the discipline, splitted between Eastern and Western approaches, created two distinct "traditions" or "schools" of thought and practice. By acknowledging this situation the Commission will ensure the strongest effort in dealing with the promotion of methodological improvements, supporting any edge research aiming at widening the information capacity of microwear analysis, as well as new data recording and relational data-base.

The beginning of the 3rd millennium needs to promote the debate and opening to the exchange of ideas on the discipline. It is time to work to enhance the knowledge and the development of the discipline, broadening horizons so that Traceology/Functional Analysis will became a common practice for archaeological investigation.

Methodological and Theoretical issues



Artefacts and Tools production

Experimental archaeology

Ethnography and ethno analogy

Economy (Hunting, Agriculture, Specialized tool production, etc.)

Technological facilities and analytic results

Organic residues


Digital data processing

Facilitate the knowledge of scientific production (web site; translations; data-base; etc.)


Bolgar International Archaeological Field School (BIAFS): Experimental Traceological Analysis of Ancient Tools from non-flint raw materials (antler, bone, stone, shell, metal)