Posts Tagged ‘lithics’

Making flour…and not only

Posted on Sep 28, 2014

By Dr. Giulio Lucarini, University of Cambridge, UK

When I spoke for the first time with Ana Tavares about the food production research project I am currently carrying out in several regions of North Africa* and, in particular, about the analysis I am doing on grinding stones, she experienced a ‘light bulb moment’ and, smiling, exclaimed: “I have finally found somebody who may be interested in our fantastic querns and grinders! Do you think we can apply the same approach to the tools coming from the ancient capital of Egypt?” She did not have to wait too long for my reply. I was absolutely delighted and honored by receiving this proposal, especially considering that the importance of stone assemblages coming from dynastic contexts is very often underestimated or, at least, not considered at the same level of other classes of materials, such as pottery. As an archaeologist and prehistorian I have to admit that making the stones ‘speak’ has always been my greatest passion and the possibility to analyze assemblages from such an important Middle Kingdom site is a new challenge for me. This is the reason why I am writing this blog today.

Giulio analyzes a grinding stone, from Middle Kingdom Memphis, with a USB microscope. Photo by Ana Tavares.

Giulio analyzes a grinding stone, from Middle Kingdom Memphis, with a USB microscope.

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Stories from the Stones

Posted on Apr 18, 2011

Posted by Sabine Boos

As everybody knows, people in ancient Egypt used stone to build their monuments and statues. What is much less known, however, is that a large number of their tools were made of stone and this holds true for the Predynastic period as well as for a major part of Pharaonic times. Chert, sometimes referred to as flint, was the preferred stone for making their tools. Nodules of chert can be found almost everywhere in Egypt’s deserts and because of its good quality with robust, sharp edges people chose chert as raw material to produce many types of tools.

Photo 1: Scrapers from Worker's town (Photo by Sabine Boos)

Most people associate stone tools with the Paleolithic period (the Old Stone Age) and thus with a time, when people have generally been thought to be more “primitive”. A term that we wouldn’t want to use to refer to the advanced civilization of the pyramid builders. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of the Lost City of the Pyramids preferred tools made of chert for a wide variety of purposes. Many of these tools are quite similar to those Homo erectus used 2 million years earlier.

Photo 2: Simple core from Worker's town, in no way different to the so called Chopping Tools of Homo erectus (photo by Sabine Boos)

I have studied Egyptology and prehistory and see a great chance to combine my two main fields of research by looking at the lithic industry of Giza with the background of prehistoric technologies as well as in the Egyptological cultural context.… READ MORE »


Flint Industries at Ancient Giza

Posted on Sep 16, 2009

Arabic abstract By Tim Stevens, Lithics Analyst
and Brian V. Hunt

Flint blade from Giza

Flint blade from Giza

Many people think of stone tools as strictly Stone Age technology. The fact that people used chert and other stone for tools is what defines prehistory as the Stone Age. This has led to an under-appreciation of the role of stone tools in sophisticated, literate societies, such as that of Old Kingdom Egypt (2575-2134 BC).

To date, Giza Plateau Mapping Project specialists have examined over 33,500 flint artifacts (flint and chert are geologically distinct but “flint” is often used to refer to objects made from chert) from the Lost City of the Pyramids. Chert can be shaped into very effective tools and its presence in huge quantities on the desert surface made it a natural resource for the pyramid builders.

The Bronze-Age Egyptians’ introduction of metals and other materials certainly changed the relative importance of chert, but it continued to be used during the Old Kingdom and later. Chert is perhaps so common that archaeologists sometimes ignore this simple material in favor of artifacts like pots, which are familiar because we still use pottery, and inscribed sealings because hieroglyphic texts speak more directly than material like chert.… READ MORE »

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