I just found out that I would make a horrible prehistoric Neanderthal. We were learning how to make flakes (basically shards off of stones; arrowheads and Clovis points and the like), in which I severely injured myself (‘severely’ is being used very loosely here). So to make a flake, you’re suppose to use a stone (or antler or anything else hard) to hit the platform of another larger rock at a little less than 90° angle, and shear off a piece of rock (and then make that into an arrowhead of dart point or whatever).

Not only did I learn I sucked at making flakes, but I also learned that I had extremely bad aim with rocks. Naturally, I received a bunch of cuts and bruises on my fingers/hands/leg/arms. I mean seriously how do you even have enough strength to break a rock with another rock?

After making a passable flake, we were suppose to pound that bad boy into certain types of points (mine was just the basic stem with a long point). We were using obsidian because that’s one of the easiest rocks to work with (the easiest to be broken… but still not that easy), because its got almost the same texture as glass. Oh, and isn’t glass super sharp? Yeah… now I have battle scars from making a 1 inch long tool, great. I guess I’m a klutz when it comes to making points for hunting (who knew, honestly?), but it doesn’t matter because women in those ages probably just picked veggies and weaved baskets. Whew.


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One response to “palaioslithos

  1. Matt

    Actually, I hear that heating the rock (with some varieties – i dont think its neccecary for obsidian) before you flake it can increase the ease of shaping it, and I also hear that pressure flaking works rather well (which is not so much a hitting motion as it is putting the tool directly against the stone and applying pressure in the proper direction). Here is a library of resources that may assist you in your endeavor and I wish you more luck than I had at flintknapping.
    By the way, sharpened obsidian blades are known to have one of the sharpest natural edge of any substance – so much so that a flintknapper who was going to have surgery made a set of tools for the surgeon out of obsidian, and the surgeon loved them.

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