Tag Archives: flint

More on tranchet axes

I’ve found this lovely description and set of pictures of tranchet axes at Star Carr – from around 8500 BC.

http://www.prehistory.yas.org.uk/content/starcarr.html

Also a video of Will Lord making a handaxe, then turning it into a tranchet style one.

The key is the last blow parallel to the edge, giving you a razor-sharp cutting surface. When it breaks or dulls, you simply repeat the process – if you’re lucky, the striking platform will still be there; so it’d take you seconds to sharpen your axe.

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Knapping is MAGIC!

I have decided that I love knapping 🙂 Actually, even better – given my complete lack of 3D visualisation skills – that I love watching someone who knows what they’re doing, knap!

Yesterday, I watched in awe as Will Lord casually knocked out axe after axe after arrowhead; then very patiently went round and made tactful suggestions about the attempts we were making. He is a brilliant teacher, and it was a fascinating day; half-a-dozen of us sat around a wood fire, happily reducing great nodules of flint to rubble.

Will knocked out this absolute beauty in about 5 mins – photographed by my Olduvai Gorge handaxe for comparison:

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I completely failed in the hand-axe department. I tried three times; I could get to a certain point, then just couldn’t see the way to make the next platform to take the next slice off.

On a smaller scale, I was better. This picture shows my more successful attempts, with the hand axe as comparison! I’d actually get excited if I found the leaf arrowhead on a site; nicely Neolithic, lol! And the scraper’s over-elaborate for the Bronze Age, but that’s because I got carried away with how satisfying it was to nibble round 🙂

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The only problem was self-inflicted – the palm of my left hand is covered with tiny cuts, several of which bled – and then bled again this morning, when my karate lesson required me to slap my hand against a mat, repeatedly. I learn that, when you hit a flint nodule correctly, the flake comes off the bottom of the module. And catching it is inadvisable 🙂

So I shall have fun playing with the head-sized nodule Will sent me home with – as soon as I’ve found suitably thick gloves and leg-pad! And I’m already saving up to do the day again. Or maybe his bronze-casting workshop. Magic!

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Little orange berries :)

Today’s unexpected pleasure was to discover that a field I thought I’d wrapped up last week (archaeologically speaking) had been re-rolled and re-seeded – millions of little orange wheat berries everywhere 🙂

Not only do I get to play on it again for a few days, until this lot of berries sprout, but last night’s heavy rain had washed all the clay from the flints. The beet harvesting machinery has smashed quite a lot, but amongst the debris were half-a-dozen simply gorgeous scrapers and discoid knives.

This site is a good mile or so away from my main Bronze Age site, and these tools are very clearly different to the ones I’m finding over there. They still feel Bronze Age to me, but I can’t wait for the Archaeological Unit to have a look at them. Are they a different slice of BA? (It lasted for an awful long time.) Or maybe the styles are contemporary, and I have two different cultures going on side by side? Exciting!

The only downside of the day was the mud. Clay mud. The really clingy kind, that aggregates mercilessly on boots and spade. The metal detector was mostly decorative, best used for leaning on to schloop one boot then another out of the morass… Still, I’m claiming the time spent hauling all the mud around as stamina training for karate 😀

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