Archaeologists look at stone tools to learn about ancient societies and they also try to replicate these tools to better understand the work and planning that prehistoric people engaged in to craft them. As an archaeologist, Rex Garniewicz has been making stone tools for over 20 years and will discuss both the history of stone tool making and show participants how to make their own chipped stone tools. Everyone will leave with an “arrowhead” that they made or helped make. Whether or not you are skilled at replicating an ancient tool, you will certainly learn a lot about archaeology and have a new appreciation of what we can learn from what looks like a relatively simple stone tool.
Rex started making chipped stone tools in 1989 when he was studying archaeology at the University of Sheffield. He brought a bucket of English flint back to his dorm room and with no training managed to create a pile of broken rocks. He still has some of his first failures which helped him understand how ancient people made stone tools. Since then, he has worked with several flintknappers and refined his craft to the point where he can make tools that would pass for ancient ones. In our modern world, there is some strange satisfaction in being able to make a tool completely from materials that you find in nature.
This program is designed for beginners, so you don’t need to have any previous experience with archaeology or stone tools, but it is best suited for an adult audience. After looking into the history of flintknapping from the first tools made some 2 million years ago to historic times, and seeing examples of real prehistoric tools, participants will learn how certain types of rock (obsidian, chert, flint, and other glassy stones) break with a conchoidal fracture. It is this type of break, that can be directed using a hammer stone or a piece of deer antler, which allows a flintknapper to shape an arrowhead. Of course, in the process a flintknapper sends razor sharp flakes of stone flying through the air, so it is not an activity for the faint of heart! Participants can bring their own goggles or safety glasses and gloves, but we will also have some available to use – but there is still a chance of getting some cuts or scrapes.
March 28- The Art of Flintknapping- $15 per person (over 14 only)
For 10,000 years Native People in the Americas crafted beautiful tools from obsidian, chert, flint, and other glassy stones by carefully removing stone flakes from a chunk of rock. You will learn the techniques behind making these tools and how to identify chipped stone tools found in this area. You will leave the program with your own chipped stone tool and a lot of appreciation for how difficult it is to craft a thin and symmetrical arrowhead or spearpoint.
This program requires some hand and arm strength, but the ability to make a tool is more related to proper technique than brute strength. You will be making a spear point using obsidian (volcanic glass) by knocking flakes off with stone and antler hammers. Although gloves and eye protection will be provided, this is an activity that, by its very nature, may result in cuts or other injuries and is not appropriate for children under 14.
All materials are provided.