Skip to main content

One Historian’s Take on the History of Flintknapping

Like many mysteries of the past the history of flintknapping is important to understanding the human story.

The study of the past is vital for so many reasons. For starters, it not only guides us in our way forward, but it also gives us understanding of who we are as a person, family, nation, culture and human species. As Lakota warrior Crazy Horse is credited with saying, “A people without a history is like wind on the buffalo grass.” We look to the past for guidance and direction.

The recent resurgence of bushcraft has got all kinds of people looking to the past. In a wonderful fad of historical experimentation, people are gaining small insights into the lives of our oldest ancestors. One aspect of bushcraft that may be our oldest achievement is flintknapping.

Watch as one historian describes his theory of the history of flintknappping.

An interesting hypothesis if nothing else.

One thing most people overlook when studying ancient history like this is the scope of time. In a world where we are used to new daily innovations we can’t fully comprehend how long the baby steps took.

If the historian is correct our ancestors first started experimenting with flintknapping 2.5 million years ago. Then, as he explains, about 1.5 million years ago they “started getting more ambitious.”

That took a million years.

Think of life for a million years with no real innovations. A simple sharp rock flaked from a bigger rock to cut things with. In his theory, he also states humans didn’t start hafting the blades onto shafts until around 100,000 thousand years ago. Then, if modern historians are correct, we used those simple tools for the next 90,000 years before we started farming.

Think about how many generations came and went with no changes in technology and no breakthroughs. That experience alone would make their lives almost totally alien from our own.

To be sure, the dates of this analysis come from a fairly inaccurate method of dating called carbon dating. Most scientist agree carbon dating will get you close, but it has made huge mistakes in the past.

Whatever the case may be, the history of flintknapping may be a history we will never fully know.



you might also like

One Historian’s Take on the History of Flintknapping