Description and Definition of Flint. What is flint? Flint is a hard kind of stone, a large somewhat impure variety of quartz, usually found in gray, brown, reddish or nearly black colors and often has a glassy or waxy appearance. Flint was used for the manufacture of Stone Age flint tools as it splits into thin, sharp splinters called flakes when struck by another hard object such as a hammerstone.
Flint implements and tools were used by Native American Indians before the use of metals to make tools and weapons such as axes, arrows, spears, knives, tomahawks, etc. All of these objects were commonly made of flint, but other hard stones such as chert, jasper, chalcedony, granite, basalt and sandstone was also used.
Flint or Chert?
The words Flintstone, Firestone, Hornstone, and Silex are other names for flint and chert. Sometimes "chert" is used as the more general term, with flint being the darker variant. The original rock or piece of flint is referred to as the core.
Flint is easy to find as it is often covered by a thin white layer and, in contrast to the other small rocks and pebbles, it has an irregular shape. The surface of flint is also smooth and not grainy as most rocks. Flint is found along rocky riverbeds, on beaches and in chalk, a soft limestone. Flint is also found as fillings in cracks in other types of rock.
Making Stone Tools from Flint - The Flint Knapper and Flint Knapping
Stone Tools were made from either ground stone or chipped stone. A person who creates tools out of flint is known as a flint knapper. A flint knapper makes stone tools using flint including arrowheads, projectile points for spears, hand axes etc. The process is called Flint Knapping. Flint knapping involves a reduction process of the original stone of flint. Flakes of stone are broken off the of the original piece of flint.
Collection of Stone and Flint Tools
How to make Stone Tools from Flint
To make a projectile point, like an arrowhead or spear point, the piece of flint is directly struck with a hammerstone to remove large sharp flakes and break it into usable pieces of stone. A hammerstone is the archaeological name used for an object used as a prehistoric hammer. By banging the piece of flint large, thin, sharp flakes of stone are produced - basically the original piece of flint is reduced in size making a thinner piece of flint in the required thickness. The next step is called pressure flaking. Pressure flaking is achieved by placing a pointed tool, such as an antler horn or piece of bone on the edge of the stone, and applying an inward pressure to the tool to remove a small, thin flake from the stone. The objective of pressure flaking is to shape and refine the projectile point.