These musings on the stone called flint and its poorer-quality relation chert are prompted by the recent discovery of 120,000-year-old stone tools in the United Arab Emirates. Read more about that here.
Worked flint is beautiful – hard, glassy, grey, touchable. I first held it in my hands when studying prehistoric archaeology in the early 1970s.
At the time Bruce Bradley (now Professor) was studying for his PhD in experimental archaeology at Cambridge University. He was famous even then for his flint-knapping technique – it was said that it was lucky he wore spectacles as they were covered in tiny chips from the flying fragments of stone and he would otherwise have been blinded.
When he left he sold off many of his pieces. I have to admit I didn’t go to the sale myself, but my fellow student Matthew Spriggs picked up some flint tools for me. Thus I acquired the large hand axe, an arrowhead and a small sickle, all of which are pictured here.
And thanks to the miracle of Google, I find Matt is now an archaeology professor in Australia. I wondered what had happened to him!