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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: Tools ~ On: 13 November, 2010

31 comments so far

Ben Silver
August 29, 2015

Talk about making something look easy! Impressive skill.

Travis Wilkerson
October 18, 2015

I live for looking for flakes, hammer stones, ax heads, hell just yesterday my mother and I were just scouting My father's brothers land. Let me tell you fellow rock hounds, it was Valhalla and if not for an injured hand, I'd still be staked out there with my pick ax, and sifter. So this man's skill amazed me "oh" about five minutes" DAMN. I have been trying this skill for years now and the biggest thing I've managed to work out is a five inch piece of Green Chert. But practice makes perfect as they say haha. Also he mentions two types of skills. I probably fall in the high labor low work category because i've been making spears and spear points from scrap metal since I was a kid. Overall its just a fascinating study, A pit of virtually unlimited chances for more understanding of the first nations people

Cleroth
January 6, 2016

+Dean Vik At least it's more useful than your pitiful condescending comment.

Dean Vik
January 9, 2016

I suppose… If your a fan of propagating misinformation as "useful", since that's generally the best way to teach people about our past… I mean if I wanted to teach people how to do the Heimlich maneuver and instructed them to start by repeatedly punching the person in the face, that would be "useful" right?

Cleroth
January 9, 2016

+Dean Vik There's a difference between doing something poorly and completely not doing it. Whatever you might have to say, he's still flint knapping, even if it's done poorly. So yes, teaching how to do bad flint knapping is more useful than your comment which brings nothing to the discussion other than "I'm better than this guy."
If you don't want misinformation to be propagated, then how about you explain what he did wrong, or better, do a video yourself?

Dean Vik
March 1, 2016

DNA from Pre-Clovis Human Coprolites in Oregon, North America
M. Thomas P. Gilbert1,, Dennis L. Jenkins2,, Anders Götherstrom3, Nuria Naveran4, Juan J. Sanchez5, Michael Hofreiter6, Philip Francis Thomsen1, Jonas Binladen1, Thomas F. G. Higham7, Robert M. Yohe II8, Robert Parr8, Linda Scott Cummings9, Eske Willerslev1,†
a note on Clovis culture and NA cultures… Two genetically and technologically distinct groups in NA 10-12k years ago!

Amithrius
June 29, 2016

James May is very talented.

LongArmFossils
November 13, 2016

Oh you made it look easy!!!

LongArmFossils
November 13, 2016

I'm so impressed!!!

Allan Course
July 2, 2017

Someone told me they’d seen this video of me recently and so I had another look and saw the conversation trail, so I thought I’d explain. The filmers wanted me to make a working flint arrowhead as fast as I could – they didn’t want me to take 20 minutes making a grave-goods quality barbed and tanged. So, I decided to knock up a basic leaf-shaped arrowhead of the kind that was used in the Carn Brea neolithic battle. They may not look pretty, but I promise you they are effective – I’ve tested them on pig carcasses and from a 60 lb draw weight ash bow at 40 yards, they will penetrate four to six inches.

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