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Flint Knapping -how to be a flint knapper ~ by WoodlandsTV

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http://www.woodlands.co.uk Flint Knapping. How to be a flint knapper. What is flint knapping. Allan Course demonstrates how a neolithic arrowhead was made. This is the art of flint knapping and the tools he uses come from the antlers of a red deer. The piece of flint is hit by direct percussion - in other words Allan hits the antler bone on top of the flint to get a flake of flint from the side to produce the arrowhead. Flint knapping takes a lot of practice but once you are skilled at it you can get repeatable good results.
The flake of flint is then shaped to produce in this case a leaf shaped arrowhead. This style of arrowhead was in use in Britain between 4000BC to 1500 BC.
The tools for this part are also very simple - a piece of leather to protect the hand, and another small piece of antler bone. By putting the piece of antler on the edge of the flint and pushing down tiny pieces of flint are chippped off. The tip of the arrowhead has to be very sharp to penetrate flesh effectively. Having worked on the tip , the sides are then trimmed to be sharp and reasonably straight.

The process takes about 3 minutes and tells us something about our ancestors in prehistory. We can be pretty sure they had specialist flint knappers, so an expert could turn out about 20 arrowheads in an hour . Although the process was quick it required a high degree of skill to be so productive which is why they specialised. The rest of the arrow is the other way around. It doesn't take much skill to take a piece of hazel wood, take the bark off, smooth it and add feathers to it, but it does take a lot of time. So archaeologists will look at these crafts in two ways. The flint arrowhead is high skill, low labour, whereas the reat of the arrow is relatively low skill, and high labour. In Britain in say 3000BC there would have been no need for everybody to become an expert flint knapper because the amount of time they would have to spend on it to become good, compared to the time that they actually needed to use that skill just doesn't make it an efficient process. So we're certain flint knappers were specialists. We're also pretty sure that one flint knapper on a part time basis, because he had his own farm and livestock to look after, could have serviced a community of two hundred people. so flint knappers were specialists.
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Posted in: Uncategorised ~ On: 13 November, 2010

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35 comments so far

Dallas DautermanDallas
September 22, 2018

Ignore any negative comments, good show. It's often the non-performers who are the loudest critics.

Denver Flippin'
September 26, 2018

Correct,he didn't flake the arrowhead for thinning and shaping he just crushed the edge until it was arrowhead shaped and making arrows does take a good amount of skill and practice.

Southern Fun
February 15, 2020

Nope, doesn't matter. Everyone on the internet is an expert at everything. Over 30 years experience, you say? Pshhhh… just read 15 comments about how you did it wrong.

Eh, I don't know how to end this stupid joke. I gave up after the second sentence. I've found quite a few arrowheads in the dirt where I live, they are, I would say, 3 to 4 times as big as the one you made. I wonder if they were for a different purpose or just the way whatever tribe was originally here learned to make them? I used to wonder… were all the ones I found used for hunting or were any of them used for battle? Also, I've always only found the arrowhead. No stick or string with it. One might say that stuff decomposed but… I'm not sure how long it would take for the stick to rot away into the dirt.

Southern Fun
February 15, 2020

Have any of you ever seen an arrowhead from the Native Americans roamed the land? I'm fairly certain that is what he was demonstrating. NOT the techniques that the Europeans brought over and modern day Western "Native Americans" make with all their "white man" tools.

All of the arrowheads I found appear to have been made the same way he did in this video. Rough around the edges from pressure flaking or WHATEVER it's called. I don't know anything about flint knapping yet I seem to have more sense about it than you so called experts.

Ummm Ok
April 13, 2020

He reminds me of shrek

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