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A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any
tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use tool use by animals, simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone tools dates back Paleolithic, hun ...

tool
made either partially or entirely out of
stone A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks form the Earth's outer solid layer, th ...
. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with
prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, ...
(particularly
Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology ...

Stone Age
) cultures that have become extinct.
Archaeologists Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique h ...
often study such prehistoric societies, and refer to the study of stone tools as
lithic analysis In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biolo ...
.
EthnoarchaeologyEthnoarchaeology is the ethnographic study of peoples for archaeological reasons, usually through the study of the material remains of a society (see David & Kramer 2001). Ethnoarchaeology aids archaeologists in reconstructing ancient lifeways by ...
has been a valuable research field in order to further the understanding and cultural implications of stone tool use and manufacture. Stone has been used to make a wide variety of different tools throughout history, including
arrowhead An arrowhead or point is the usually sharpened and hardened tip of an arrow s and nock. An arrow is a fin-stabilized projectile launched by a bow and arrow, bow. A typical arrow usually consists of a long, stiff, straight ''shaft'' with a weig ...

arrowhead
s,
spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

spear
heads,
hand axe A hand axe (or handaxe or Acheulean hand axe) is a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is under ...
s, and
querns , North Ayrshire Quern-stones are Rock (geology), stone tools for hand-Grinding (abrasive cutting), grinding a wide variety of materials. They are used in pairs. The lower stationary stone is called a quern, while the upper mobile stone is called ...
. Stone tools may be made of either
ground stone Image:Grinding stone.jpg, Traditional grinding stone used for making chutney, dosa batter and idli batter, in India today. In archaeology, ground stone is a category of stone tool formed by the grinding of a coarse-grained tool stone, either pur ...
or knapped stone, and a person who creates tools out of the latter is known as a
flintknapper Knapping is the shaping of flint Flint is a sedimentary rock, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as the variety of chert that occurs in chalk or marly limestone. Flint was widely used historically to make ston ...
. Knapped stone tools are made from
cryptocrystalCryptocrystalline is a rock texture Texture may refer to: Science and technology * Surface texture, the texture means smoothness, roughness, or bumpiness of the surface of an object * Texture (roads), road surface characteristics with waves short ...
line materials such as
chert Chert () is a hard, fine-grained sedimentary rock Sedimentary rocks are types of rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is cat ...

chert
or
flint Flint is a sedimentary Sedimentary rocks are types of rock (geology), rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic matter, organic particles at Earth#Surface, Earth's surface, followed by cementation (geology ...

flint
,
radiolarite Radiolarite (Jurassic) from the Alps. Radiolarite is a Siliceous ooze, siliceous, comparatively hard, fine-grained, chert-like, and homogeneous sedimentary rock that is composed predominantly of the microscopic remains of radiolarians. This term ...
,
chalcedony Chalcedony () is a cryptocrystalline form of silica, composed of very fine intergrowths of quartz and moganite. These are both silica minerals, but they differ in that quartz has a trigonal crystal structure, while moganite is monoclinic. Chalced ...

chalcedony
,
obsidian Obsidian (; ) is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed when lava extrusive rock, extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth. It is an igneous rock. Obsidian is produced from felsic lava, rich in the lighter element ...

obsidian
,
basalt Basalt (, ) is a fine-grained extrusive A volcanic rock from Italy with a relatively large six-sided phenocryst (diameter about 1 mm) surrounded by a fine-grained groundmass, as seen in thin section under a petrographic microscope Extr ...

basalt
, and
quartzite Quartzite is a hard, non-Foliation (geology), foliated metamorphic rock which was originally pure quartz sandstone.Essentials of Geology, 3rd Edition, Stephen Marshak, p 182 Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usu ...

quartzite
via a process known as
lithic reduction In archaeology, in particular of the Stone Age, lithic reduction is the process of fashioning stones or rocks from their natural state into Stone tool, tools or History of weapons#Prehistory_and_the_ancient_world, weapons by removing some parts. ...
. One simple form of reduction is to strike stone
flake
flake
s from a nucleus (core) of material using a
hammerstone In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to ...
or similar hard hammer fabricator. If the goal of the reduction strategy is to produce flakes, the remnant
lithic core In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain ...
may be discarded once it has become too small to use. In some strategies, however, a
flintknapper Knapping is the shaping of flint Flint is a sedimentary rock, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as the variety of chert that occurs in chalk or marly limestone. Flint was widely used historically to make ston ...
reduces the core to a rough unifacial, or
bifacial A hand axe (or handaxe or Acheulean hand axe) is a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is in ...

bifacial
preform Preform may refer to: *Optical fiber#Preform, a piece of glass used to draw an optical fiber *Polyethylene terephthalate#Preform, a piece of Polyethylene terephthalate test tube shaped form blown into a completed bottle. *Lithic reduction#Blanks a ...
, which is further reduced using
soft hammer
soft hammer
flaking techniques or by
pressure flaking In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gai ...
the edges. More complex forms of reduction include the production of highly standardized blades, which can then be fashioned into a variety of tools such as
scraper Scrape, scraper or scraping may refer to: Biology and medicine * Abrasion (medical), a type of injury * Scraper (biology), grazer-scraper, a water animal that feeds on stones and other substrates by grazing algae, microorganism and other matter * ...
s,
knives A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse wa ...

knives
,
sickle A sickle, bagging hook, reaping-hook or grasshook is a single-handed agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching televi ...

sickle
s, and
microliths A microlith is a small stone A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks form the ...
. In general terms, Knapped stone tools are nearly ubiquitous in all pre-metal-using societies because they are easily manufactured, the
tool stone In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biol ...
is usually plentiful, and they are easy to transport and sharpen.


Evolution

Archaeologists classify stone tools into industries (also known as complexes or technocomplexes) that share distinctive technological or morphological characteristics. In 1969 in the 2nd edition of ''World Prehistory'',
Grahame Clark Sir John Grahame Douglas Clark (28 July 1907 – 12 September 1995), who often published as J. G. D. Clark, was a British archaeologist who specialised in the study of Mesolithic The Mesolithic ( Greek: μέσος, ''mesos'' "middle"; λί ...
proposed an evolutionary progression of flint-knapping in which the "dominant lithic technologies" occurred in a fixed sequence from Mode 1 through Mode 5. He assigned to them relative dates: Modes 1 and 2 to the Lower
Palaeolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek wikt:παλαιός, palaios - old, wikt:λίθος, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone too ...
, 3 to the
Middle Palaeolithic The Middle Paleolithic (or Middle Palaeolithic) is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age, is a period in human prehistory distinguished by the original devel ...

Middle Palaeolithic
, 4 to the Advanced and 5 to the
Mesolithic The Mesolithic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

Mesolithic
. They were not to be conceived, however, as either universal—that is, they did not account for all
lithic technology In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biolo ...
; or as synchronous—they were not in effect in different regions simultaneously. Mode 1, for example, was in use in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
long after it had been replaced by Mode 2 in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
. Clark's scheme was adopted enthusiastically by the archaeological community. One of its advantages was the simplicity of terminology; for example, the Mode 1 / Mode 2 Transition. The transitions are currently of greatest interest. Consequently, in the literature the stone tools used in the period of the
Palaeolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek wikt:παλαιός, palaios - old, wikt:λίθος, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone too ...
are divided into four "modes", each of which designates a different form of complexity, and which in most cases followed a rough
chronological Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republi ...
order.


Pre-Mode I

;Kenya Stone tools found from 2011 to 2014 at
Lake Turkana Lake Turkana (), formerly known as Lake Rudolf, is a lake in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya, Kenyan Rift Valley, in northern Kenya, with its far northern end crossing into Ethiopia. It is the world's largest permanent desert lake and the world's ...

Lake Turkana
in
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

Kenya
, are dated to be 3.3 million years old, and predate the genus ''Homo'' by about one million years. The oldest known ''Homo'' fossil is about 2.4-2.3 million years old compared to the 3.3 million year old stone tools. The stone tools may have been made by ''
Australopithecus afarensis ''Australopithecus afarensis'' is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, ...

Australopithecus afarensis
'', the species whose best fossil example is
Lucy Lucy is an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World ...
, which inhabited East Africa at the same time as the date of the oldest stone tools, or by ''Kenyanthropus platyops'' (a 3.2 to 3.5-million-year-old
Pliocene The Pliocene ( ; also Pleiocene) epoch (geology), Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58Dikika The Dikika is an area of the Afar Region Afar Region (; aa, Qafar; am, ዓፋር ክልል), formerly known as Region 2, is a regional state A regional state or a regionalised unitary state, is a term used to denote a type of state that is for ...
,
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the ...

Ethiopia
near (200 yards) the remains of Selam, a young ''
Australopithecus afarensis ''Australopithecus afarensis'' is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, ...

Australopithecus afarensis
'' girl who lived about 3.3 million years ago.


Mode I: The Oldowan Industry

The earliest stone tools in the life span of the genus ''
Homo ''Homo'' () is the genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), cir ...

Homo
'' are
Mode 1
Mode 1
tools, and come from what has been termed the Oldowan Industry, named after the type of site (many sites, actually) found in
Olduvai Gorge The Olduvai Gorge or Oldupai Gorge in Tanzania is one of the most important paleoanthropology, paleoanthropological sites in the world; it has proven invaluable in furthering understanding of early human evolution. A steep-sided ravine in the Greg ...

Olduvai Gorge
,
Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the Africa Africa is the world's second-larges ...

Tanzania
, where they were discovered in large quantities. Oldowan tools were characterised by their simple construction, predominantly using
core Core or cores may refer to: Science and technology * Core (anatomy) In common parlance, the core of the body is broadly considered to be the torso. Functional movements are highly dependent on this part of the body, and lack of core muscular dev ...
forms. These cores were river pebbles, or rocks similar to them, that had been struck by a spherical
hammerstone In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to ...
to cause conchoidal fractures removing flakes from one surface, creating an edge and often a sharp tip. The blunt end is the proximal surface; the sharp, the distal. Oldowan is a percussion technology. Grasping the proximal surface, the hominid brought the distal surface down hard on an object he wished to detach or shatter, such as a bone or tuber. The earliest known Oldowan tools yet found date from 2.6 million years ago, during the
Lower Palaeolithic 250px, Four views of an Acheulean handaxe The Lower Paleolithic (or Lower Palaeolithic) is the earliest subdivision of the Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age, is a period in human pr ...

Lower Palaeolithic
period, and have been uncovered at
Gona Gona is a coastal village in Oro Province Oro Province, formerly (and officially still) Northern Province, is a coast The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the sea or ocean, or as a line th ...
in
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the ...

Ethiopia
. After this date, the Oldowan Industry subsequently spread throughout much of Africa, although archaeologists are currently unsure which Hominan species first developed them, with some speculating that it was ''
Australopithecus garhi ''Australopithecus garhi'' is a species of australopithecine from the Bouri Formation in the Afar Region of Ethiopia 2.6–2.5 million years ago (mya) during the Early Pleistocene. The first remains were described in 1999 based on several ske ...
'', and others believing that it was in fact ''
Homo habilis ''Homo habilis'' ("handy man") is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the large ...

Homo habilis
''. ''Homo habilis'' was the hominin who used the tools for most of the Oldowan in Africa, but at about 1.9-1.8 million years ago
Homo erectus ''Homo erectus'' (meaning "upright Body relative directions (also known as egocentric coordinates) are geometrical orientations relative to a body such as a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread s ...

Homo erectus
inherited them. The Industry flourished in southern and eastern Africa between 2.6 and 1.7 million years ago, but was also spread out of Africa and into
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
by travelling bands of ''H. erectus'', who took it as far east as
Java Java ( id, Jawa, ; jv, ꦗꦮ; su, ) is one of the Greater Sunda Islands in Indonesia. It is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the south and the Java Sea to the north. With a population of 147.7 million people, Java is the world's List of ...

Java
by 1.8 million years ago and
Northern China Northern China () and Southern China () are two approximate regions within China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is ...
by 1.6 million years ago.


Mode II: The Acheulean Industry

Eventually, more complex Mode 2 tools began to be developed through the Acheulean Industry, named after the site of Saint-Acheul in France. The Acheulean was characterised not by the core, but by the
biface A hand axe (or handaxe or Acheulean hand axe) is a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is i ...

biface
, the most notable form of which was the
hand axe A hand axe (or handaxe or Acheulean hand axe) is a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is under ...
. The Acheulean first appears in the archaeological record as early as 1.7 million years ago in the West Turkana area of
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

Kenya
and contemporaneously in southern Africa. The Leakeys, excavators at Olduvai, defined a "Developed Oldowan" Period in which they believed they saw evidence of an overlap in Oldowan and Acheulean. In their species-specific view of the two industries, Oldowan equated to ''H. habilis'' and Acheulean to ''H. erectus''. Developed Oldowan was assigned to ''habilis'' and Acheulean to ''erectus''. Subsequent dates on ''H. erectus'' pushed the fossils back to well before Acheulean tools; that is, ''H. erectus'' must have initially used Mode 1. There was no reason to think, therefore, that Developed Oldowan had to be ''habilis''; it could have been ''erectus''. Opponents of the view divide Developed Oldowan between Oldowan and Acheulean. There is no question, however, that ''habilis'' and ''erectus'' coexisted, as ''habilis'' fossils are found as late as 1.4 million years ago. Meanwhile, African ''H. erectus'' developed Mode 2. In any case a wave of Mode 2 then spread across Eurasia, resulting in use of both there. ''H. erectus'' may not have been the only hominin to leave Africa; European fossils are sometimes associated with ''
Homo ergaster ''Homo ergaster'' is an extinct species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular int ...

Homo ergaster
'', a contemporary of ''H. erectus'' in Africa. In contrast to an Oldowan tool, which is the result of a fortuitous and probably
ex tempore ''Ex tempore'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
operation to obtain one sharp edge on a stone, an Acheulean tool is a planned result of a manufacturing process. The manufacturer begins with a blank, either a larger stone or a slab knocked off a larger rock. From this blank he or she removes large flakes, to be used as cores. Standing a core on edge on an anvil stone, he or she hits the exposed edge with centripetal blows of a hard hammer to roughly shape the implement. Then the piece must be worked over again, or retouched, with a soft hammer of wood or bone to produce a tool finely Knapped all over consisting of two convex surfaces intersecting in a sharp edge. Such a tool is used for slicing; concussion would destroy the edge and cut the hand. Some Mode 2 tools are disk-shaped, others ovoid, others leaf-shaped and pointed, and others elongated and pointed at the distal end, with a blunt surface at the proximal end, obviously used for drilling. Mode 2 tools are used for butchering; not being composite (having no haft) they are not very appropriate killing instruments. The killing must have been done some other way. Mode 2 tools are larger than Oldowan. The blank was ported to serve as an ongoing source of flakes until it was finally retouched as a finished tool itself. Edges were often sharpened by further retouching.


Mode III: The Mousterian Industry

Eventually, the Acheulean in Europe was replaced by a lithic technology known as the Mousterian Industry, which was named after the site of
Le Moustier Le Moustier is an archeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human ...

Le Moustier
in France, where examples were first uncovered in the 1860s. Evolving from the Acheulean, it adopted the
Levallois technique upright=1.25, The Levallois technique of flint- knapping The Levallois technique () is a name given by archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeo ...
to produce smaller and sharper knife-like tools as well as scrapers. Also known as the "prepared core technique," flakes are struck from worked cores and then subsequently retouched. The Mousterian Industry was developed and used primarily by the
Neanderthals Neanderthals (, also Neandertals, ''Homo neanderthalensis'' or ''Homo sapiens neanderthalensis'') are an extinct species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an org ...
, a native European and Middle Eastern hominin species, but a broadly similar industry is contemporaneously widespread in Africa.


Mode IV: The Aurignacian Industry

The widespread use of long
blade A blade is the portion of a tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use tool use by animals, simple tools, only human beings, whose use of st ...
s (rather than flakes) of the
Upper Palaeolithic The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) also called the Late Stone Age is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age, is a period in human prehis ...

Upper Palaeolithic
Mode 4 industries appeared during the
Upper Palaeolithic The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) also called the Late Stone Age is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age, is a period in human prehis ...

Upper Palaeolithic
between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, although blades were produced in small quantities much earlier by Neanderthals. The
Aurignacian The Aurignacian () is an archaeological tradition of the Upper Paleolithic The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) also called the Late Stone Age is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. Very broadly, it ...

Aurignacian
culture seems to have been the first to rely largely on blades. The use of blades exponentially increases the efficiency of core usage compared to the Levallois flake technique, which had a similar advantage over Acheulean technology which was worked from cores.


Mode V: The Microlithic Industries

Mode 5 stone tools involve the production of
microlith A microlith is a small Rock (geology), stone tool usually made of flint or chert and typically a centimetre or so in length and half a centimetre wide. They were made by humans from around 35,000 to 3,000 years ago, across Europe, Africa, Asia an ...
s, which were used in composite tools, mainly fastened to a shaft. Examples include the
Magdalenian The Magdalenian cultures (also Madelenian; French: ''Magdalénien'') are later culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowled ...
culture. Such a technology makes much more efficient use of available materials like flint, although required greater skill in manufacturing the small flakes. Mounting sharp flint edges in a wood or bone handle is the key innovation in microliths, essentially because the handle gives the user protection against the flint and also improves leverage of the device.


Neolithic industries

In prehistoric
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
, ground stone tools appear during the
Japanese Paleolithic The is the period of human inhabitation in Japan predating the development of pottery, generally before 10,000 BC. The starting dates commonly given to this period are from around 40,000 BC; although any date of human presence before 35,000 BC i ...
period, that lasted from around 40,000 BC to 14,000 BC. Elsewhere, ground stone tools became important during the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
period beginning about 10,000 BC. These ground or polished implements are manufactured from larger-grained materials such as
basalt Basalt (, ) is a fine-grained extrusive A volcanic rock from Italy with a relatively large six-sided phenocryst (diameter about 1 mm) surrounded by a fine-grained groundmass, as seen in thin section under a petrographic microscope Extr ...

basalt
,
jade Jade is a mineral, much used in some cultures as jewellery and for ornaments, mostly known for its green varieties, though it appears naturally in other colors as well, notably yellow and white. Jade can refer to either of two different silica ...

jade
and
jadeite Jadeite is a pyroxene The pyroxenes (commonly abbreviated to ''Px'') are a group of important rock-forming inosilicate Silicate minerals are rock-forming minerals made up of silicate groups. They are the largest and most important class of m ...

jadeite
, greenstone and some forms of
rhyolite Rhyolite ( ) is the most silica Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is an oxide An oxide () is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and ...

rhyolite
which are not suitable for flaking. The greenstone industry was important in the
English Lake District The Lake District, also known as the Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), human impact characteristics ( human geography), and th ...

English Lake District
, and is known as the Langdale axe industry. Ground stone implements included
adze An adze (; alternative spelling: adz) is an ancient and versatile cutting tool similar to an axe An axe (sometimes ax in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or ...

adze
s,
celt The Celts (, see Names of the Celts#Pronunciation, pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: Celtic a collection of Indo-European languages, ...
s, and
axe An axe (sometimes ax in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, ...

axe
s, which were manufactured using a labour-intensive, time-consuming method of repeated grinding against an abrasive stone, often using water as a lubricant. Because of their coarse surfaces, some ground stone tools were used for grinding plant foods and were polished not just by intentional shaping, but also by use. Manos are hand stones used in conjunction with
metate A metate or metlatl (or mealing stone) is a type or variety of quern, a ground stone tool used for processing grain A grain is a small, hard, dry seed, with or without an attached husk, hull or fruit layer, harvested for human or animal consu ...

metate
s for grinding corn or grain. Polishing increased the intrinsic
mechanical strength Strength of materials, also called mechanics of materials, deals with the behavior of solid objects subject to stresses and strains. The theory began with the consideration of the behavior of one and two dimensional members of structures, whose s ...
of the axe. Polished stone axes were important for the widespread clearance of woods and forest during the Neolithic period, when crop and livestock farming developed on a large scale. They are distributed very widely and were traded over great distances since the best rock types were often very local. They also became venerated objects, and were frequently buried in
long barrow Long barrows are a style of monument constructed across Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context. Beginning with foreign exploration during the Age of D ...
s or
round barrow A round barrow is a type of tumulus A tumulus (plural tumuli) is a mound A mound is a heaped pile of earth, gravel, sand, rocks, or debris. Most commonly, mounds are earthen formations such as hills and mountains, particularly ...
s with their former owners. During the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
period, large axes were made from flint nodules by knapping a rough shape, a so-called "rough-out". Such products were traded across a wide area. The rough-outs were then polished to give the surface a fine finish to create the axe head. Polishing not only increased the final strength of the product but also meant that the head could penetrate wood more easily. There were many sources of supply, including
Grimes Graves Grime's Graves is a large Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12,000 yea ...

Grimes Graves
in
Suffolk Suffolk () is a ceremonial county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), W ...
,
Cissbury Cissbury Ring is an biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north of Worthing Worthing () is a seaside town and district with Borough status in England and Wales, borough status in West Sussex, England. It is situated at the foot of the ...
in
Sussex Sussex (), from the Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, e ...

Sussex
and Spiennes near
Mons Mons (; German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language ...

Mons
in
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
to mention but a few. In
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
, there were numerous small quarries in
downland , Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight () is a Counties of England, ceremonial county and the List of islands of England, largest and second-most populous island in England. It is in the English Channel, between two and five miles off the coast of H ...
areas where flint was removed for local use, for example. Many other rocks were used to make axes from stones, including the Langdale axe industry as well as numerous other sites such as
Penmaenmawr Penmaenmawr (, ) is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. Origin a ...
and
Tievebulliagh Tievebulliagh () is a mountain in the Glens of Antrim The Glens of Antrim,Logainm.ie
(
Co Antrim County Antrim (named after the town of , ) is one of six that form . Adjoined to the north-east shore of , the county covers an area of and has a population of about 618,000. County Antrim has a population density of 203 people per square kil ...
, Ulster. In Langdale, there many outcrops of the greenstone (archaeology), greenstone were exploited, and knapped where the stone was extracted. The sites exhibit piles of waste flakes, as well as rejected rough-outs. Polishing improved the
mechanical strength Strength of materials, also called mechanics of materials, deals with the behavior of solid objects subject to stresses and strains. The theory began with the consideration of the behavior of one and two dimensional members of structures, whose s ...
of the tools, so increasing their life and effectiveness. Many other tools were developed using the same techniques. Such products were traded across the country and abroad.


Modern uses

The invention of the flintlock gun mechanism in the sixteenth century produced a demand for specially shaped Flint#To ignite fire or gunpowder, gunflints. The Flint#To ignite fire or gunpowder, gunflint industry survived until the middle of the twentieth century in some places, including in the English town of Brandon, Suffolk, Brandon. Threshing board, Threshing boards with lithic flakes are used in agriculture from Neolithic, and are still used today in the regions where agriculture has not been mechanized and industrialized. Glassy stones (
flint Flint is a sedimentary Sedimentary rocks are types of rock (geology), rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic matter, organic particles at Earth#Surface, Earth's surface, followed by cementation (geology ...

flint
, quartz, jasper, agate) were used with a variety of iron pyrite or marcasite stones as Fire making, percussion fire starter tools. That was the most common method of producing fire in pre-industrial societies. Stones were later superseded by use of steel, ferrocerium and matches. For specialist purposes Glass knife, glass knives are still made and used today, particularly for cutting thin sections for electron microscopy in a technique known as microtomy. Freshly cut blades are always used since the sharpness of the edge is very great. These knives are made from high-quality manufactured glass, however, not from natural raw materials such as chert or obsidian. Surgical knives made from
obsidian Obsidian (; ) is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed when lava extrusive rock, extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth. It is an igneous rock. Obsidian is produced from felsic lava, rich in the lighter element ...

obsidian
are still used in some delicate surgeries.


Tool stone

In archaeology, a
tool stone In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biol ...
is a type of stone that is used to manufacture stone tools.


See also

*Chaîne opératoire *Eccentric flint (archaeology) *Flint *Knapping * Langdale axe industry *Lithic technology *Manuport *Mount William stone axe quarry *Prismatic blade


References


External links

* * * * * * * * * * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Stone Tool Lithics, Tools Archaeological artefact types Primitive technology Stone objects