Cherokee Flint knapping

Flint knapping is a brand new, modern, recently-invented process about four million years old. People have been making stone tools about 40,000 times longer than they have been driving cars, flying airplanes, or talking on the telephone. One reason for the process’s popularity is that it enabled humans to survive. Another is its simplicity. A third is the fact that the tools you needed to shape stone tools were abundant and easily obtained. Of course technology comes and technology goes, and in the last century flint knapping went from something that was still widely practiced to something that is now only done on a daily basis for survival purposes by a few people in the remotest parts of the world.

Flint knapping is a reduction process. This means that you start with something big and make it smaller. Knapping, or flaking, is done by striking flint in such a way that it shapes the stone rather than pulverizing it.The reason that flint became the stone tool of choice is because of its physical properties that cause it to chip and flake without shattering. Unlike harder stones, that cannot be easily chipped, or softer stones, that shatter when struck, flint lets the user shape it without either destroying the stone, destroying the tool used to shape it, or, most importantly, without the use of a forge. Flint knapping can be done at room temperature with few specialized tools.

The knapper begins by striking a large piece of flint directly with a harder stone or with an animal bone.

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