Knapping


Knapping

A knapper is a person who shapes flint, chert, obsidian or other stone through the process of knapping or lithic reduction to manufacture stone tools, strikers for flintlock firearms, or to produce flat-faced stones for building or facing walls, and flushwork decoration.

Knapping is done in a variety of ways depending on the purpose of the final product.For stone tools and flintlock strikers chert is worked using a fabricator, such as a hammerstone, to remove lithic flakes from a nucleus or core of tool stone. Stone tools can then be further refined using wood, bone, and antler tools to perform pressure flaking.

For building work a hammer or pick is used to split chert nodules supported on the lap. Often the chert nodule will be split in half to create two cherts with a flat circular face for use in walls constructed of lime. More sophisticated knapping is employed to produce almost perfect cubes which are used as bricks.

In cultures that have not adopted metalworking technologies, the production of stone tools by knappers is common, but in modern cultures the making of such tools is the domain of experimental archaeologists and hobbyists. Archaeologists usually undertake the task so that they can better understand how prehistoric stone tools were made.

Knapping is often learned by outdoorsman for survival tactics.

Knapping for the supply of strikers for flintlock firearms was a major industry in flint bearing locations, such as Brandon in Suffolk, England, where knappers made strikers for export to the Congo as late as 1947.

Knapping for building purposes is still a skill that is practised in the flint-bearing regions of southern England, such as Sussex, Suffolk and Norfolk, and in northern France, especially Brittany and Normandy, where there is a resurgence of the craft due to government funding.

Knapping as a hobby

Modern American interest in knapping can be traced back to the study of a California Native American named Ishi who lived in the early twentieth century.Fact|date=December 2007 Ishi taught scholars and academics traditional methods of making stone tools and how to use them for survival in the wild. Early European explorers to the New world were also exposed to flint knapping techniques. Additionally, several pioneering nineteenth century European experimental knappers are also known and in the late 1960s and early 1970s experimental archaeologist Donald Crabtree published texts such as "Experiments in Flintworking". François Bordes was an early writer on Old World knapping; he experimented with ways to replicate stone tools found across Western Europe. These authors helped to ignite a small craze in knapping among archaeologists and prehistorians. Many groups, with members from all walks of life, can now be found across the United States and Europe. These organizations continue to demonstrate and teach various ways of shaping stone tools.

Examples of knapping tools

There are many different methods of shaping stone into useful tools. Early knappers could have used simple hammers made of wood or antler to shape stone tools.

"Hard hammer" techniques are used to remove large flakes of stone. Early knappers and hobbyists replicating their methods often use cobbles of very hard stone, such as quartzite. This technique can be used by flintknappers to remove broad flakes that can be made into smaller tools. This method of manufacture is believed to have been used to make some of the earliest stone tools ever found, some of which date from over 2 million years ago.

"Soft hammer" techniques are more precise than hard hammer methods of shaping stone. Soft hammer techniques allow a knapper to shape a stone into many different kinds of cutting, scraping, and projectile tools.

"Pressure flaking" involves removing narrow flakes along the edge of a stone tool. This technique is often used to do detailed thinning and shaping of a stone tool. Pressure flaking involves putting a large amount of force across a region on the edge of the tool and (hopefully) causing a narrow flake to come off of the stone. Modern hobbyists often use pressure flaking tools with a copper or brass tip, but early knappers could have used antler tines or a pointed wooden punch; traditionalist knappers still use antler tines and copper-tipped tools. The major advantage of using soft metals rather than wood or bone is that the metal punches wear down less and are less likely to break under pressure.

ee also

* Lithic reduction
* Olduwan
* Chert
* Flint
* [http://www.primitivearcher.com/ Primitive Archer Magazine]
* [http://www.primitivearcher.com/smf/index.php Knapping help forum]
* [http://www.horsefeathersranch.com/ Flint Knapping how to books and help for bow and arrow making]

Further reading

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Knapping — Knap Knap, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Knapped}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Knapping}.] [D. knappen to chew, bite, crack, take hold of; prob. of imitative origin.] 1. To bite; to bite off; to break short. [Obs. or Prov. Eng. ] [1913 Webster] He will knap the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • knapping — v. chip rocks with a hammer …   English contemporary dictionary

  • knapping — knap·ping …   English syllables

  • knapping — …   Useful english dictionary

  • knapping hammer — …   Useful english dictionary

  • knapping-hammer — knappˈing hammer noun (Scot) A hammer for breaking stones • • • Main Entry: ↑knap …   Useful english dictionary

  • flint-knapping — flintˈ knapping noun • • • Main Entry: ↑flint …   Useful english dictionary

  • Errett Callahan — (born December 17, 1937) is an American archaeologist, flintknapper, and pioneer in the fields of experimental archaeology and lithic replication studies.Early life Errett Callahan was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on December 17, 1937. Callahan’s… …   Wikipedia

  • Veldwezelt-Hezerwater — is a Palaeolithic archaeological site in Belgium. ContextThe successive archaeological excavation campaigns at Veldwezelt Hezerwater, Belgium provide important remains of at least five separate Middle Palaeolithic valley settlements. It is… …   Wikipedia

  • Threshing-board — A threshing board is an obsolete farm implement used to separate cereals from their straw; that is, to thresh. It is a thick board, made with a variety of slats, with a shape between rectangular and trapezoidal, with the frontal part somewhat… …   Wikipedia


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