Students caught knapping!

The behaviors of our distant ancestors don’t preserve in the archaeological record but the products of these behaviors sometimes do. Much of what we can say about early human behavior is based on the material artifacts they left behind, particularly the stone tools. One approach to getting a better understanding of how and why these tools were made is to replicate the process, a key aspect of the niche field of experimental archaeology.

This past week, our Anthropology Club had the opportunity to make their own stone tools, as a way to better understand the process. Joanne Minerbi, a Masters student at California State University, Northridge gave of her time to teach our students the science and art of making stone tools. Joanne has been involved in archaeological projects in the Mojave Desert, Nevada and Idaho. Her thesis research is tentatively titled “Lithics of the Lost Village: Patterns of Trade and Exchange at Sjútkanga, the Encino Village Site.”

After giving our students a crash course on the different properties of rocks, she demonstrated how to make diverse kinds of tools. Once our students were prepped, it was their turn to have a go at flintknapping. They got a sense of how even the simplest tools require a lot of preparation and planning to pull off.

SMC students try their hands at the advanced technique of pressure flaking.