Lithic technology

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The Stone Age

before Homo (Pliocene)


Lower Paleolithic
Early Stone Age
Control of fire
Stone tools
Middle Paleolithic
Middle Stone Age
Homo neanderthalensis
Homo sapiens
Recent African origin of modern humans
Upper Paleolithic
Late Stone Age
Behavioral modernity, Atlatl,
Origin of the domestic dog


Microliths, Bow, Canoe
Heavy Neolithic
Shepherd Neolithic
Trihedral Neolithic
Pre-Pottery Neolithic
Neolithic Revolution,
Pottery Neolithic

In archeology, lithic technology refers to a broad array of techniques and styles to produce usable tools from various types of stone. The earliest stone tools were recovered from modern Ethiopia and were dated to between two-million and three-million years old. The archaeological record of lithic technology is divided into three major time periods: the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age), Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age), and Neolithic (New Stone Age). Not all cultures in all parts of the world exhibit the same pattern of lithic technological development, and stone tool technology continues to be used to this day, but these three time periods represent the span of the archaeological record when lithic technology was paramount. See: Stone tool.

Raw materials[edit]

Some types of raw materials are:

These raw materials all have common characteristics which make them ideal for stone tool production. To make a stone material ideal for tool production, it must be non-crystalline or glassy, which allows for conchoidal fracturing. These characteristics allow the person forming the stone ("flintknapper") to control the reduction precisely in order to make a wide variety of tools.


Stone tools are manufactured using a process known as lithic reduction. The technique used is dependent upon the level of detail required for the desired tool. The technique with the least detail is conducted using a hammerstone, in which a hard rock (often sandstone) is struck against the raw material in order to chip off large flakes, and begin to shape the stone. Using a hammerstone produces what is known as a preform, which is the core of the tool in need of more detailed refinements. The next technique allows for an increased level of detail; using a soft hammer (often made of wood or bone), one can chip away flakes of material with more precision. The most precise technique is known as pressure flaking. This technique involves pressing small flakes off rather than by means of percussion. Bone and antlers are often used as punches in order to create a very precisely detailed tool. Another technique, known as indirect percussion, combines the use of a punch and a hammer in order to apply pressure to a precise area of the stone.


See also[edit]