Knapping Skill and Craft Specialization in Late Neolithic Flint Daggers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Late Neolithic flint daggers of Scandinavia have long fascinated contemporary flintknappers, due to the beauty of some specimens and the presumed skill required to make them. Examination of populations of daggers in museum collections reveals differences in knapping quality. Such differences are commonly ascribed to variations in skill levels on the part of their makers, and high skill is often assumed to indicate craft specialization. The results of a systematic examination of over 500 flint daggers from southern Sweden suggest that no coherent population of daggers was made by specialists to serve as prestige items or for economic gain. Nor do calculations of dagger output support an interpretation of craft specialist production. Rather, it is suggested that the finest daggers were made by artisans who wished to challenge their own embodied flintknapping skills. In pushing the limits of their craft, their motivation was personal, rather than economic.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology

Keywords

  • craft specialization, Flint daggers, flintknapper, Late Neolithic, skill
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-139
Number of pages13
JournalLithic Technology
Volume42
Issue number4
Early online date2017 Aug 24
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes