Knapping in the Rain

Just after lunch started, so did the rain. When it had not let up after an hour, the director sent everyone home.

During lunchtime, though, one of the site supervisors demonstrated flint knapping, i.e., how to make stone tools out of a large block of flint. First he used a large piece of antler as a hammer to knock the rock into a generally workable shape, then he continued further rough shaping with a large round cobble whacked against the flint.

This process resulted in an almost usable hand-sized chunk of rock with sharp edges. Lastly he used a small piece of antler repeatedly pressed to the stone in order to flake off little pieces, producing a sharp, shaped edge. This process demonstrates how little time it takes to make utility stone tools from scratch. Somehow, I’ve never seen someone do this before, so I found it most interesting.

With the afternoon free, we came home and I finished up “Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages,” a book about tracing these and other drink backwards in time using various kinds of archaeological evidence, including high-tech analyses of residues found on ancient pottery. Many cultures, time periods, and fermentation methods are examined throughout the world. The author also covers several attempts at recreating ancient beverages, some of which I’ve already tried, and others that are at home to try soon. You can buy these at stores with larger selections of beers and wines.


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