Serrated stone tools have some advantages compared to non-serrated ones:
- If used as an arrowhead, serrated projectiles are supposed to cause increased hemorrhage of the prey. This seems reasonable, but to my knowledge this assumption has not been experimentally evaluated till now. Serration first occurred, as recently shown by Lombard et al (2010), during the South African MSA at Umhlatuzana Rock shelter within a Still-Bay context. Here the serrated points are more similar to the Still Bay points than to any other points in the MSA sequence spanning from Stillbay to post-Howiesons Port times. After the Still-Bay phase of the MSA, serrated projectiles disappeared from the archaeological record. They remained rare until the onset of the Neolithic in Northern-Africa, the Levant and Europe where they became a common component of the weaponry. The same phenomenon is known from early Holocene America.
- Serrated blades and bladelets are are more well suited for tasks that require aggressive ‘sawing’ motions, whereas plain edge blades are better suited for tasks that require push-through cuts (e.g., shaving, chopping, slicing). Serrated artifacts tend to grab fibers and force them against the cutting surface, so they can make it easier to cut several plants including distinctive cereals.Serrated blades and bladelets became a part of artifact ensembles during the Upper Paleolithic and the Epipaleolithic of North Africa and the Levant. Lartet in the 1860ies allready noted that the tiny “Magdalenian saws” may have been used for the production of ivory needles at La Madeleine and Bruniquel. Serration is a common feature on Neolithic / Early Bronze Age stone sickles. It has been shown experimentally with modern sickles that the sharpness of serrated sickles is more stable than non serrated ones and that serration of sickles significantly reduces the work load of the harvester.
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