A long period of training was required to be able to knap long blades. There are clues to this on some cores. At Étiolles, there were rules concerning flint knapping at the camp.

Evidence of incremental learning

Many flint products contain marks from technical errors and knapping accidents that resulted in lower-quality products. The diversity of defective products demonstrates how this knowledge was gradually acquired, from a “beginner” phase, during which the knapper tried their hand at detaching simple flakes, to an advanced stage, where they demonstrated full theoretical and practical knowledge.

The social organisation of knapping

Knapping was done by highly experienced adults. These experienced knappers chose the best and largest cores in order to supply the community with the long blades it needed. They worked in prime locations, close to hearths or in outdoor workshops, from which less competent adults were excluded. The defective products were probably made by youngsters who only had access to low-potential materials, in particular cores that had already been reduced or, more rarely, smaller blocks of local flint. These children or young adults practised knapping away from the main areas of activity, at the edges of tents or near small outdoor hearths.