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Knapping Skill and Craft Specialization in Late Neolithic Flint Daggers

Olausson, Deborah LU (2017) In Lithic Technology 42(4). p.127-139
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.... (More)

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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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
craft specialization, Flint daggers, flintknapper, Late Neolithic, skill
in
Lithic Technology
volume
42
issue
4
pages
13 pages
publisher
Department of Antrhropology, University of Tulsa
external identifiers
  • scopus:85028526231
ISSN
0197-7261
DOI
10.1080/01977261.2017.1364328
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3d1337a6-cd78-40d2-98cc-3b17a2ec61da
date added to LUP
2017-09-27 08:45:06
date last changed
2018-01-07 12:19:30
@article{3d1337a6-cd78-40d2-98cc-3b17a2ec61da,
  abstract     = {<p>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.</p>},
  author       = {Olausson, Deborah},
  issn         = {0197-7261},
  keyword      = {craft specialization,Flint daggers,flintknapper,Late Neolithic,skill},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {127--139},
  publisher    = {Department of Antrhropology, University of Tulsa},
  series       = {Lithic Technology},
  title        = {Knapping Skill and Craft Specialization in Late Neolithic Flint Daggers},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01977261.2017.1364328},
  volume       = {42},
  year         = {2017},
}