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Primitive Living Skills- Beyond the Basics- Flintknapping and Lithic Technology-
Points, Blades, Scrapers

Flintknapping skills are probably not something that would be used in our survival scenario, where our goal is to make our way back to civilisation. They are most definitely a primitive living skill, a skill that is practiced and developed over years, over a lifetime.

My personal experience with flintknapping started about 20 years ago. While in college I took a lithic analysis and reproduction class from Mayan archaeologist Payson Sheets, who had himself learned flintknapping from Don Crabtree. We smashed plenty of rocks, and a few fingers, and learned the technical side of flintknapping- the mechanics involved in the creation of stone tools. If you can find a class like this at a local university I highly recommend taking it. There is nothing like complete immersion to learn such a skill. If a university course is not an option, there are plenty of flintknappers around the country that offer afternoon, day- long, or weekend introductions to the art. The Society of Primitive Technology website has a class schedule and listing for primitive schools. Check to see if there is one in your area.

3 points made quickly from obsidan form northern New Mexico
To the left are a few rather expedient, far from perfect points that I created with a few minutes work on each. I chose a few scrap pieces of obsidian that I had lying around, picked up a piece of antler, and flaked away. They all could use more work- cortex (the weathered outside of the nodule) is still visible on all three pieces. Ultimately the cortex would be removed and the points worked down to be thinner. Once you learn the basic skills you can create at least expedient points that can be hafted and used.

bifacial flaking example- obsidian point ready for hafting

The photo to the left shows a point that I spent a bit more time on. This is an example of bifacial thinning- removing small flakes from both sides of the point to make it thinner and to achieve the desired shape. Bifacial thinning is done using a deer antler tine to apply pressure against the edge of the point at the location of the desired flake. The flake is removed across the point, with pressure being applied towards the center of the point. The process is repeated up and down both sides of the flake along both edges.

Visit the Wilderrness Kids pages for my thoughts on teaching flintknapping skills to children.

Recommended titles on flintknapping, or with contents about flintknapping and primitive weapons:

Back to Top
Primitive Skills- Living Comfortably Off the Land
Primitive Skills- Learning the Basics, Water
Primitive Skills- Shelter
Primitive Skills- Fire
Primitive Skills- Food
Primitive Skills- Navigation
Primitive Skills- Primitive Weapons
Primitive Skills- Fishing
Primitive Skills- Flintknapping
Primitive Skills- Tracking
Desert and Wilderness Survival and the Survival Kit Page
Choosing Your Survival Knife

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