Different functional types of tools have been Identified with some certainty. Given their form, their particular uses are pretty obvious: scraping tools have relatively high edge angles and curved edge outline; chopping tools are larger, heavier, and have very blunt edges. Projectile points are small bifacially-flaked tools probably used as the points of hunting spears; they have been the subject of a substantial amount of study. The relative number of tool types found in particular levels of sites have the potential to indicate what the main activities were in that time and place. For example, we have found that proportions of scraping uniface tools and choppers within the overall tool kit differs between hunting camps and base camps. This is probably because after hunting, people would probably primarily use choppers to dismember the carcass, and do other preliminary processing of the game in the hunting camp. Large bones or bony portions of animals might have been removed with choppers to make the carcass easier to carry home to base camp. At the base camp they spent more time working with scrapers to prepare hides for the variety of clothing and shelter functions necessary in this cold environment.
Besides simple assumptions of the relationship between tool form and function, high power microscopy can provide additional information of how, and on what medium, a particular tool was used. This is done by examining the wear on the edges of the tool that did the work. By using similar, modernly-made tools under experimental conditions in the present, a library of different known wear types can be produced.. You can then compare the wear on experimental and prehistoric tools under high magnification. This method of functional analysis has a great potential, providing that unambiguous signatures of tool use on different materials can be found.
Stylistic aspects of the tools serve as important indicators of where and when a tool was made. On a general level, details of tool shape are important in stylistic differentiation. Other key features include unusual techniques used in tool production, which sometimes seemed to have differed between tool makers. Some tools were made in other ways besides chipping stone, but they are significantly fewer in number. They included some ground or pecked stone tools, hammerstones, bone tools, and perhaps wood tools, although these latter have not been preserved. It is notable that grinding stones are exceptionally rare, reflecting the rare use of seeds or other plant material requiring grinding.
Many informal tools may have been used, such as casually adopted and quickly abandoned hammerstones or bone splinters. The bone tools shown here from Panaulauca are typical of the puna Preceramic Period, but they are scarce, and most were less elaborate, with just traces of wear on tips or edges. This group includes several awls, a needle, a bone grooved to cut beads, a scapula flesher or comb, a flaker, and a deer antler hammer. There is also no shortage of chipped tools as you can see from the picture to the left. All the small objects on the excavation surface are tools.