History of Flint - flint is a kind of stone used for stone tools
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Flint

Flint
Flint

September 2016 - Flint is a kind of sedimentary rock that occurs naturally in many places in China, West Asia, North Africa, and Europe. Flint is easier to knapp (to shape) than a lot of other kinds of stone, and it will hold a sharp edge longer, so in the Stone Age people made most of their tools out of flint. Flint's not as good for tools as obsidian, but it was easier to get.

There are two ways of knapping flint. The older way was to take a rock and knock off bits until you had a sharp edge, and use that as a tool. That was easy and quick to do, but it took a lot of flint for each tool.


Here's a video of some young men knapping flint.

People who had trouble getting enough flint for everyone thought of a better way: take a rock and knock off bigger flakes, and make each one of those flakes have a sharp edge. Then you can get twenty or more tools out of the same rock that made only one tool before.

yellowish stone pointed tips
Flint arrowheads or spear tips (North Africa)

If you can get flint, you can try knapping it yourself. It's not hard to make the first kind of tool, but it is a lot harder to make the second kind. Here are some examples of the second kind of flint tool.

More about obsidian
More about sedimentary rocks

Bibliography and further reading about flint:

Obsidian
Limestone
Marble
Tufa
Travertine
Basalt
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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