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Primitive Skills: Making an Ötzi the Iceman Flint Dagger

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We continue recreating Ötzi the Iceman’s gear kit by learning how to make his flint-blade dagger. We also learn a little of how primitive man lived.

It’s no secret that I like the work of primitive archery and primitive skills expert Shawn Woods. Woods explores the life of early, pre-Industrial humans, and he shares those explorations in brief videos that are simple, highly informative, and entertaining in their directness and honesty.

One of Woods’ favorite subjects is Ötzi the Iceman. He has made a mission of studying Ötzi, the Iceman’s life and the tools he used. In an ongoing series of how-to videos, Woods shares his own accomplished efforts at recreating the accoutrements that were found with Ötzi’s 5,000-year old body.

Today Woods attempts to fashion a working replica of the flint-bladed dagger that was found with Ötzi, right down to the same variety of wood the Iceman used for the handle of his dagger.

The materials and tools Woods uses to duplicate Ötzi’s dagger are as close to the original as can be achieved, and the methods he uses as accurate as can be reasonably assumed. What I especially like is Woods’ commitment to accuracy in the dimensions of the original, while also embracing an attitude of logical assumption and “spirit of the original”.

For example, Woods shapes the flint blade into what he believes the original blade looked like before the tip was broken, which is the state in which the dagger was recovered. His explanation of Ötzi’s pressure flaker is especially interesting, as is his argument debating the actual identification and function of the object.

Some apparently believe the object may be a striker used in making fire. Woods maintains that the object is indeed a “pocketknife”-type dagger. He also sheds light on some of the deformity or damage the dagger sustained when Otzi and his gear were recovered from the ice.

Woods also reveals that he relies strongly on a book by Konrad Spindler, titled The Man in the Ice. I’ve ordered Spindler’s book and am waiting anxiously for its arrival.

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Primitive Skills: Making an Ötzi the Iceman Flint Dagger