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Stone Tools

Stone provided the material for humanity's earliest durable technological industry. Although bone and wood may well have been in use earlier, they have rarely survived. The earliest of our ancestors (and some of their cousins, too) learned quickly that a sharp rock can be very useful for many purposes. From that point on, for more than a million years, humans have slowly refined the art of making stone tools, from early choppers to razor-fine blades of volcanic glass.

In America two stone industries were commonplace. The earliest of these involved chipping flints to make tools. A combination of stone hammers, antler batons, and fine antler tips were used to carefully reduce a flint core to flakes, which were then meticulously flaked into their final forms. Chipped stone tools types include arrowheads and spear points, scrapers, knives, and drills.

The other technology involved pecking and grinding stones to make tools. Durable cobbles of granite or basalt were battered into shape by other stones. Most often, final shaping involved grinding the tools agains other stones to provide a smoothed finish. This class of tools includes grinding slabs (metates), axes, celts, and mauls.

Here are some examples of stone tools from the Archaeological Research Center's collection. Just click on any of the small pictures to learn more:

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