One of the difficulties in the analysis of bone tools is the necessity of quantifying and understanding variability within formal morphological types because typology is often defined by species and skeletal part despite similarities in use wear and, thus presumably in function. While some morphological types stick closely to a formal definition others are made in a cruder, more opportunistic fashion on a variety of skeletal elements. Thus, there is a manufacture quality continuum along which individual tools fall. Clusters of tools of a general type from a particular assemblage falling near the extremes of this continuum have been termed Class I (planned) and Class II (opportunistic). It is suggested here that better quality tools reflect the economic importance of the task they were used in to the society as a whole, whereas more crudely made tools reflect the personal needs of an individual person in certain task(s) or activities. Variables examined include species and skeletal part, percentage of surface covered by manufacture wear, percentage of surface covered by use wear and curation. Examples of such analyses include tools from the Swiss Neolithic lake dwelling site of Saint Blaise-Bains des Dames as well as a small bone tool assemblage from the Migration Period site of Endröd 170 on the Great Hungarian Plain.
Bone tools, manufacturing continuum, planned tools, opportunistic tools, Neolithic, Sarmatian.