The fractal distribution is the best statistical model for the size-frequency distributions that result from some lithic reduction processes. Fractals are a large class of complex, self-similar sets that can be described using power-law relations. Fractal statistical distributions are characterized by an exponent, D, called the fractal dimension. I show how to determine whether the size-frequency distribution of a sample of debitage is fractal by plotting the power-law relation on a log-log graph. I also show how to estimate the fractal dimension for any particular distribution. Using debitage size data from experimental replications of lithic tools, I demonstrate a fundamental relationship between the fractal dimension and stage of reduction. I also present archaeological case studies that illustrate the simplicity and utility of the method. © 2001 Academic Press.
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