Early Cultures: Pre-European Peoples of Wisconsin
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Making Stone Tools
Example of flintknapping: striking with a hammerstone
Stone tools such as spear points were made through a process called flintknapping. Striking a rock in a particular way causes flakes/chips to come off. Learning to strike the rocks in the best way takes lots of practice and involves many mistakes. Even today, with patience and learned skill, people can make spear points out of stone.

The first step in making a tool from a piece of raw material is to remove the weathered surface called cortex. The piece of raw material is struck with a hammerstone which causes large flakes to be driven off. Some of these flakes may be used later to make smaller tools such as scrapers or triangular points.

Shaping the piece into the desired tool form is the second step in the tool making process. Early stages of this process are done using a hammerstone. For the later and finer work a baton of wood or antler is used to thin the edges and to establish the form.

Pressure flaking is the last step in making the stone tool. Very small, thin flakes are carefully removed from around the margins of the tool by applying pressure with an antler tine. This type of flaking strengthens, straightens and sharpens the cutting edges of the tool and shapes the piece into its final form.

Example of flintknapping: pressure flaking

Hafting spears
Early spears were different than spears people use today. Today we might find spears with points made of steel and shafts made of aluminum. Early hunters had to use the raw materials that were available around them. Instead of processed metals, they used wood and stone. Hafting is the process of tying a tool to a bone or wood shaft. The end of the shaft was notched or split and the tool was wedged into the notch. Animal sinew or plant fibers were probably used to tie the tool to the shaft.

Example of hafting spears

The shaft of the spear was made from wood. Long, straight pieces of wood make the best spears. The bark is stripped and then the piece is straightened if necessary. This took a lot of work and wood was not always available so early people came up with a way to cut down on the number of lost or broken spear shafts. Instead of having one long shaft with the spear point attached to the end, these early people made the shaft in two pieces. The spear point was attached to a short piece of wood, the foreshaft, which then fit into a longer shaft. This two piece construction allowed the main shaft to fall off after the point was stuck in the animal. In this way the shaft didn't get lost or broken if the animal was still able to run from the hunter.

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Man with spear
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