TEACHERS' NOTES

1-100A Flint implements
Notes
The Stone Age These tools and implements come from the period known to archaeologists as the Stone Age. The use of metal was unknown, and stone was used as a raw material for objects which needed strength and durability. The Stone Age is often divided into Old, Middle and New phases. • The Old Stone Age is associated with a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and the use of caves and shelters for homes. • By about 4000 BC, a more settled lifestyle, involving farming (both crops and animals) had developed. This period from 4000 BC, until the knowledge of how to work bronze reached Britain about 2000 BC, is known as the New Stone Age. Flint Where it was available, flint was used, rather than other kinds of stone, for making tools and weapons. This was because it is tough, finegrained, forms strong cutting-edges and points, and breaks in a predictable way. It occurs in chalk and other limestones, as irregularly shaped modules. The best quality flint had a uniform grain. Poorer quality flint contains 'knots' which are extra tough and sometimes show up as a different colour; they tend to spoil the evenness of a fracture. Good quality flint was sought-after in prehistoric times. At Grime's Graves in Norfolk, for example, flint was mined from shafts up to 16 metres deep during the Neolithic period.

Museum Education Service
1

Exhibit 1 is a flake which has been deliberately struck from a lump of flint. and the bulb and ripples are clearly visible. Flakes were often struck from the lump of flint with a hammer-stone (exhibit 2). Sometimes it was the flakes that were used for tools. The Old Stone Age hand-axe is an example. there will be a swelling. concentric ripples and a bulbar scar. a flake is detached from it. 2 . and sometimes there is a small dent in the bulb called a bulbar scar. known as a 'bulb of percussion'. Individual flakes could be made into a variety of tools by re-touching removing small pieces of flint by applying pressure from a piece of bone or antler. rather than the core. 3. Flint tools could be made from either cores or flakes. Look at the examples in this collection and notice all the secondary 'working' used to shape the flake or to produce the required edge. Notes on exhibits 1. Below this there will be concentric ripples. It also shows how imperfections in the flint can affect the surface. This core would have been discarded and the flakes made into tools. Look at the other artefacts in this collection and see how many have these features. This flake has certain characteristics. The core was the lump of flint left after flakes had been struck from it (exhibit 3). and some tools were produced simply by striking off flakes until the flint core had been reduced to the required shape and size. just below the spot where the flint was struck. Its pitted surface provides evidence of its use. Flake This shows some of the features of a deliberately struck flake: the bulb of percussion. The earliest flint tools were made in this way. Sometimes there are fissures below the bulb. Hammer-stone This was used to strike a lump of flint to produce flakes. which radiate from the point of impact.Making a flint implement When a lump of flint is deliberately struck. 2. Core The core is the piece of flint left after flakes have been struck from it. Where the flake comes away from the body of the flint.

The illustration shows how the arrowhead could have been fastened to the shaft. They may have been used for planing or smoothing spear. The hand-axe was the general-purpose tool of the Old Stone Age. The hand-axe was held in the hand (see illustration). 8. 9.4. Leaf-shaped arrowhead This type of arrowhead was used in the New Stone Age. New Stone Age polished axe-head This is only part of atypical New Stone Age tool. Middle Stone Age tranchet arrowhead As with the tranchet axe-head. Scrapers (concave) These more unusual scrapers have concave scraping surfaces.or arrow-shafts. not hafted to a handle. Microliths are often found at Middle Stone Age riverside settlements. 7. the period when people lived in caves and shelters. and these small deliberately shaped piece of flint were fastened to lengths of bone to make harpoons. had no knowledge of agriculture and depended for their food on hunting and gathering. The faint ripples show where flakes have been removed. 5. This axe could have been used for tree-felling. Microlith Microlith literally means 'tiny stone'. 6. flakes have been removed from it in order to produce the required shape. a 'blade' was produced by striking off a flake at an angle at one end. and beautifully ground and polished. Modern experiments have shown that axes like this are effective for chopping down trees. The point has been broken off at one end. 10. 3 . No double it had other uses too. Tranchet axe-head An axe-head from the Middle Stone Age period. Hand-axe This is a core tool i. with a cutting edge produced by taking off a flake at an angle at one end. Scraper (convex) This is the sort of scraper usually assumed to have been used for scraping skins. Notice all the secondary working or retouching that has been used to produce this arrowhead. made of flint.e. 11 & 12. The illustration shows how the axehead could have been hafted to its handle.

like 'perhaps'. stone wasn't the only raw material available. Drawing is a useful activity for focusing attention on the features which distinguish a deliberately made implement from a natural lump of flint or a simple flint flake. asking for ideas on what they might have been used for. 14. Drawing Ask the children to study and draw carefully at least one of the implements (nos. and look for signs that little flakes of flint have been removed from edges and surfaces. Some leading questions could be useful: • What clues can you find that this implement had been deliberately shaped? • Do you think it is complete? • What do you think it might have been used for? Pool ideas afterwards. 4 . Knife Both the long edges and each end of this implement have been retouched. it may not even have been the main one. possibly' or probably. Look at the shape. Encourage the use of words which express this uncertainty. Both sides of the flake have been re-touched as well as the point. Materials then The period when stone was used for making tools and weapons is known for obvious reasons as the Stone Age. and that our limited evidence may even give us a biased picture of Stone Age life unless this is taken into account.13. 4-14). However. Activities Discussion Divide the class into small groups and circulate the implements (nos 414) round the groups. Borer This implement is made from poor quality flint containing knots and other imperfections. this makes the subject useful for class discussions and should promote awareness of the uncertainty of our understanding of the past. so presumably it could have been used as a knife as well as a borer. Although a lot of archaeological interpretation of flint implements has been helped by study of contemporary Stone Age cultures there is plenty of room for conjecture. Discuss: • What other raw materials could have been used by Stone Age people? • Which of these materials would survive until the present? • What would happen to the others? Discussion could lead to the idea that evidence is incomplete.

Include both natural and man-made ones. Hold the flake at an angle against a block of wood. these smaller flakes were removed by pressing the edge with a piece of bone or antler. press down on the edge with the nail. but a long nail is a good substitute for a modern demonstration. 5 . it behaves rather like flint but is easier to work.Materials now Make a class list of materials which we use nowadays. Take a lump of natural flint and strike off flakes by hitting the lump sharply on its flattest surface with a rounded stone (not the hammer-stone in this collection). • Which of these materials would have been available to Stone Age people? • Are there any materials not on the list which you think Stone Age people might have used? Making flint tools If you are ambitious you could try out or demonstrate Stone Age techniques for making tools. your audience will also need goggles. A piece of glass can be used instead of a flint flake. Don't forget that observers must wear goggles and should stand well clear. and a small piece of flint should be detached from the edge and underneath. You will need goggles and thick gloves. Choose a flake of suitable shape and turn it into a knife or arrowhead by taking off smaller flakes.