- Stone tool
A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any
toolmade of stone. Although stone-tool-dependent cultures exist even today, most stone tools are associated with prehistoricsocieties that no longer exist.
The study of stone tools is often called
lithic analysisby archaeologists. Stone tools may be made of chipped stoneor ground stone. A person who makes chipped stone implements is called a flintknapper. In addition to tools, many minerals were used to make arrow headsand spear points.
Chipped stone tools are made from
cryptocrystalline materials such as chert, radiolarite, chalcedony, basalt, quartziteand obsidianvia a process known as lithic reduction. One simple form of reduction is to strike stone flakes from a nucleus (core) of material using a hammerstoneor similar hard hammer fabricator. If the goal of the reduction strategy is to produce flakes, the remnant lithic coremay be discarded once it has become too small to use. In some strategies, however, a flintknapperreduces the core to a rough unifacial or bifacial preform, which is further reduced using soft hammerflaking techniques or by pressure flakingthe edges. More complex forms of reduction include the production of highly standardized blades, which can then be fashioned into a variety of tools such as scrapers, knives, sickles and microliths. In general terms, chipped stone tools are nearly ubiquitous in all pre-metal-using societies because they are easily manufactured, the tool stoneis usually plentiful, and they are easy to transport and sharpen.
Prehistoric stone-working techniques of the
Palaeolithicare divided into four 'Modes' [Barton, RNE, "Stone Age Britain" English Heritage/BT Batsford:London 1997 qtd in Butler, 2005. See also Wymer, JJ, "The Lower Palaeolithic Occupation of Britain", Wessex Archaeologyand English Heritage, 1999.] ,
The Mode 1 industries (
Oldowan, Clactonian) created rough flake tools by hitting a suitable stone with a hammerstone. The resulting flake would have a natural sharp edge for cutting and could afterwards be sharpened further by striking another smaller flake from the edge if necessary (known as retouch). These early toolmakers may also have worked the stone they took the flake from (known as a core) to create chopper cores although there is some debate over whether these items were tools or just discarded cores Fact|date=February 2007.
The Mode 2 (eg
Acheuleanor Biface) toolmakers also used the Mode 1 flake tool method but supplemented it by also using wood or bone implements to pressure flake fragments away from stone cores to create the first true hand-axes. The use of a soft hammer made from wood or bone also resulted in more control over the shape of the finished tool. Unlike the earlier Mode 1 industries, the core was prized over the flakes that came from it. Another advance was that the Mode 2 tools were worked symmetrically and on both sides (hence the name Biface) indicating greater care in the production of the final tool.
Mode 3 technology emerged towards the end of Acheulean dominance and involved the
Levallois technique. It is commonly associated with Neanderthal Mousterianindustry. The long blades (rather than flakes) of the Upper PalaeolithicMode 4 industries appeared during the Upper Palaeolithic[Lewin, R., Foley, R. A. 2004. Principles of Human Evolution (2nd Ed.) Blackwell Science, UK. ISBN: 0-632-04704-6] . The Aurignacianculture is a good example of mode 4 tool production. Mode 5 stone tools involve the production of Microliths. Examples include the Magdalenianculture.
Polished stone tools
Ground stone tools became important during the
Neolithicperiod. These ground or polished implements are manufactured from larger-grained materials such as basalt, greenstoneand some forms of rhyolitewhich are not suitable for flaking. The greenstone industry was important in the English Lake District, and is known as the Langdale axe industry. Ground stone implements included adzes, celts, and axes, which were manufactured using a labour-intensive, time-consuming method of repeated grinding against an abrasive stone, often using wateras a lubricant. Because of their coarse surfaces, some ground stone tools were used for grinding plant foods and were polished not just by intentional shaping, but also by use. Manos are hand stones used in conjunction with metates for grinding corn or grain. Polishing increased the intrinsic mechanical strengthof the axe. Polished stone axes were important for the widespread clearance of woods and forest during the Neolithic period, when crop and livestock farming developed on a large scale.
Langdale axe industry
* [http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/dept/d10/asb/anthro2003/archy/lithictech/lithictech.html Introduction]
* [http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/dept/d10/asb/anthro2003/origins/stone_tools.html Stone Tool Technology]
* [http://id-archserve.ucsb.edu/Anth3/Courseware/LithicTech/2_Introduction.html Principles]
* [http://www.archaeology.hawaii.edu/jlg/lithics/lithics.htm Notes]
* [http://www.nativetech.org/stone/flake.html Flaked Stone Tools]
* [http://www.hf.uio.no/iakh/forskning/sarc/iakh/lithic/type.html Stone Tool Typology]
* [http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/theme/tools/index.html Stone Tools of Texas Indians]
* [http://www.nativetech.org/stone/stonetypes/index.html Stone Types]
* [http://www.chemistryland.com/CHM107/EarlyChemistry/StoneTools/StoneTools02.html Impact of Chemistry]
* [http://www.hf.uio.no/iakh/forskning/sarc/iakh/lithic/bar/bar1.html Interpreting the Function of Stone Tools (book)]
* [http://home1.gte.net/ericjw1/stonetools.html Recommended Readings]
* [http://www.newarchaeology.com/articles/recognize_stone_age_tools.php How to recognize prehistoric stone tools]
* [http://www.worldmuseumofman.org Prehistoric and Neolithic Stone Tools and Weapons - World Museum of Man]
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