“That’s right. It’s a dolphin”

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WordPress sent an email to remind me that I haven’t posted anything in a while. We have been digging on a hill above Rochdale where Mesolithic microliths and debitage have been identified eroding from a footpath. Consequently, not much knapping has been happening, and I have not had much to report (although this is a lithics based post from the dig).  The only real news is that I have ordered some flint!

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This is what £100 worth of flint nodules from Needham Chalk looks like. I have destroyed about four nodules since I last wrote. In the process I have generated plenty of flakes for scrapers and arrowheads, but still struggle to work any nodule that is not tabular into a core tool. I have watched a couple of Youtube videos and have strategies in mind, and I think the key thing is being able to get rid of lumps from the core. This involves experimentation and practice, hence the flint.

The nodule of flint in the initial photograph, and the title of the post can be seen as a homage to Karl Lee. He has done a number of introductory sessions for us with students new to lithics, and students perhaps not so enthusiastic about lithics at 9am on a Tuesday morning. Karl’s approach was to remain silent until the start of the session. He would then hold up a nodule of flint that looked startlingly similar to a large human penis, and ask the students: “What does this look like?” The students were invariably unsure of how to respond and lots of sniggering and whispering would ensue, but no answer. Karl would then break the tension with “That’s right. It’s a dolphin“. Laughter followed as the students realised the session wasn’t going to be as boring as they had feared. After that opening Karl had their attention and would proceed to talk through the process of making a handaxe. As well as being a skilled flint-knapper he is very engaging, and that is a really valuable attribute in a teaching and learning environment. The irony here is that the nodule in my photograph actually looks like a dolphin.

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