The Past, Present, and Future of Flintknapping: An Anthropological Perspective
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 13: 187-203 (Volume publication date October 1984)
J J Flenniken
In lieu of an abstract, the publisher reproduces the first page of the article. (Link)

Letters to My Tutor….

My dearest Simone,

This article left me thinking of the various ways we make connections to the past.  Flenniken says,“As an anthropological term, flintknapping is simply the manufacture of stone tools by the reductive processes of flaking or chipping.” He also writes that “..flintknapping constitutes an anthropological concept whereby the processes of prehistoric flintknapping are better understood by modern flintknapping experiments.” He distinguished between people who simple make stone tools, artificers, and people like Donald Crabtree who are replicators, those who use the same tools, materials and methods employed by people of old (producing similar products and debris).

Shortly after reading this article, I was lost in thought about how magical it is to touch history in the way that replicators do. It’s one thing to visit the British Museum and gaze upon things that were used by such and such historical figure or to visit an historical site and touch structures and items that were used by early peoples. It’s quite a different thing to go through a similar process, to have the same considerations running through one’s mind, to make the same movements.

This connection to the past is one of the reasons that despite being tomboyish/bohemian as a child, I always loved wearing long dresses, hooped dresses, formal wear. In fifth or sixth grade I played the old woman on the “Old Woman in the Shoe” parade float. Yes, not exactly an historical figure, but … The music teacher loaned me a prairie-styled dress and bonnet to wear. I didn’t want to take the dress off. I loved gently lifting the skirt to walk up stairs. I loved the feel of the fabric brushing back against my legs with every stride. And somehow the feeling of being a bit out of place when walking among people in normal dress also highlighted the connection to a past time when most women wore such dresses and made such movements.

This connection is one of the great parts of reading your diaries. You share so many of your simple and grand thoughts, your simple and grand movements.

I’ll leave you with that.