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American Flintknappers

American Flintknappers
Stone Age Art in the Age of Computers
by John C. Whittaker
University of Texas Press, 2004

Flintknapping is the art of shaping rocks into arrowheads, knives, or other prehistoric tools. It is mankind's most ancient craft for which physical evidence has been found.

In this book John Whittaker, an anthropology professor specializing in prehistoric tools, provides an in-depth study of modern-day "knappers" -- people who practice the art of flintknapping -- and "knap-ins," social gatherings where knappers trade, compete and discuss their craft. 

"Almost all knappers have at least a casual interest in prehistory," Whittaker points out. "Many take this no further than liking to collect arrowheads, or enjoying primitive crafts, and have no real interest in learning about the archaeological meaning of artifacts or the nature of prehistoric Indian cultures. However, some are just as dedicated scholars in their way as any academic archaeologist."

Whittaker's book is the product of 10 years of study an participation in knap-ins and conversations with flintknappers, which he admits was "a convenient academic excuse to have some weekend fun." He profiles people who knap, like commercial knapper George Eklund and stone dealer Gene Stapleton, and seeks to explain what it flintknapping means to them.

"I'm not interested in art; I'm interested in craftsmanship," flintknapping knife-maker Ernest Callahan explains. "What I want to do is make the best crafted stone knives of which I am capable, taxing myself to the limit of my ability." 

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American Flintknappers

Most knappers know full well that their craft has little practical application in today's world; it is a craft performed for its own sake. Knappers find beauty and inspiration in stone, in prehistoric artifacts, and in the knapped art they make.

Also by John C. Whittaker:

Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007  All rights reserved.
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