RockHoundBlog

What is flintknapping?

Filed under: regular postings — Gary December 3, 2010 @ 10:58 am
Michael Miller

Michael Miller

Archeologist Specializing in the Art of Flintknapping.

Michael Miller has been fascinated with rocks since early childhood; his mineral, fossil, and rock collecting took him to interesting places but, none as addicting as the realm of flintknapping. What is flintknapping? Technically and archaeologically, knapping is shaping of conchoidally fracturing stone to create an objective piece, be it an arrowhead, gun flint, scraper, etc. Numerous types of stone can be knapped, a short list includes: flint, chert, obsidian, chalcedony, basalt, and jasper. Lithic material for use in flintknapping can be found just about everywhere humans have ever called home. Michael grew up in Ohio and even after traveling all over the world as a professional archeologist he prefers the cherts from the Midwest. His favorite material to knap is Upper Mercer chert from south-central Ohio; it is a black to blue chert that is often mottled and occasionally has quartz inclusions. Some of the most colorful stone for knapping, Flint Ridge Flint, comes from Ohio too. Flint Ridge Flint is highly revered for the numerous colors, distinctive banding, and inclusions that make it so unique.  Michael enjoys digging for his stone but, also participates in an ever growing trade-network of knappers and exchanges his rocks for exotic and interesting cherts from all over the USA and world.

Flint Ridge

Flint Ridge

Flint Knapping

Flint Knapping

How do you get started in flintknapping? As with other rock hobbies, learning to knap takes dedication and time. Michael recommends that beginners look to the pros; flintknapping has a long tradition of being passed down, and the best way to learn is from another skilled flintknapper.  He says to go to a “knap-in”, this is when a bunch of knappers get together over a weekend for the sole purpose of banging on rocks, trading/selling rocks, learning new techniques and talking rock with fellow rock knockers. Ask almost any knapper for a lesson, and they’ll happily share their time, rock, and skills with you. If you can’t get to a knap-in, the Internet offers tons of resources, as many knappers have spread their specialized knowledge in the form of pictures and videos. Michael’s website,  FlintKnappers.com, offers a large selection of links to those looking to learn more about the art.

Michael spends his days working as a lithic analyst, an archaeologist that specializes in the study of stone artifacts. He uses his in-depth knowledge of flintknapping to help inform him about the artifacts that he studies; by correlating the practices of prehistoric humans with modern day experiments, he gains invaluable insight into the lifeways of our ancestors. On his off time, you guessed it, he plays with rocks and devotes untold hours to his website, http://www.FlintKnappers.com, which has grown over the past ten years into the largest flintknapping website out there, showcasing the work of over 40 knappers and listing thousands of replicas for sale.

knapping

knapping

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