The principles of flint knapping

The fracturing of flint, as for any other brittle rock of its type, requires the knowledge of several principles of physics and some specific rudimentary knowledge of angles and volume. The force of the movement with which the flint is struck, the hardness of the striker, the morphology of the block being worked and the exact location of the impact are all important factors in detaching a flake and its form. The different methods used for detaching flakes leave characteristic marks on them.

Diverse methods of laminar production

In the Palaeolithic, several methods were used for knapping stone to produce blades, with either hard or soft strikers. At Étiolles, first, the core was shaped, with flakes removed in order to give it regular curves and very oblique striking platforms. This was done using a sandstone striker. Blades were then detached using a soft striker made from reindeer antler. The knapper continually worked to maintain the morphology of the core by detaching small corrective flakes, to ensure the angles and convexities were suitable for knapping a series of blades. The longer the blades , the more precise the gestures had to be.