A History of Flint-Knapping Experimentation, 1838-1976 [and Comments and Reply]

by L Lewis Johnson, Jeffery A Behm, François Bordes, Daniel Cahen, Don E Crabtree, Dena F Dincauze, Conran A Hay, Brian Hayden, Thomas R Hester, Paul R Katz, Ruthann Knudson, Francis P McManamon, S C Malik, Hansjürgen Müller-Beck, Mark H Newcomer, K Paddayya, Patricia Price-Beggerly, Anthony J Ranere, H D Sankalia, Payson D Sheets show all authors
Current Anthropology ()


In this paper I attempt to discuss all flint-knapping experiments which have been published, either by the knapper or by others, from the earliest available references through 1976. Although I will mention some observations of living aborigines and some experiments in use, my focus is experimental knapping. Thus, my references are assuredly not complete on topics such as ground stone tools, tool use, and aboriginal knapping. Another area I have not completely reviewed is the study of eoliths, purported pre-Paleolithic tools. MacCurdy's 1905 summary of the eolith controversy up to that date contains a 154-item bibliography, and the dispute continued unabated until at least 1936. In keeping with my purpose, I have concentrated on those disputants who were experienced knappers and who performed experiments intended to test the artifactual nature of these objects. A chronological review of studies published will be a major portion of this presentation: what was attempted, why it was attempted, what the results of the experiments were, and how they were used by the author. The review is largely divided into decades. In each section I will brieflv review works published, indicate trends or major concerns, and review in detail those studies which strike me as particularly important.

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