Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mining Flint. Old Story with Modern Topics

I guess it's not completely your cup of tea but I am impressed by our smart 'homo sapiens' ancestors. They were effective, efficient, used fallback scenarios and worked as a team. Sounds pretty modern, doesn't it?

Let's go back in time. 6,000 years ago our ancestors worked together in mining flint in Rijckholt-St Geertruid. In a part of the world we now call The Netherlands. They dug shafts with a diameter of 1 metre. Until they arrived at the level (around 4-12 metres) with the rich flint chunks.
There they gathered the flint in galleries of maximum 8 metres deep. No deeper because the sunlight doesn't shine any further. After gallery 1 they dug gallery 2. Gallery 1 was filled with the debris of gallery 2. Gallery 2 with 3. Gallery 3 with 4. And gallery 5? This gallery was left empty as an (extra) escape route for shaft 2.

What did they harvest in these prehistoric flint mines? Flint! Upstairs the big flint chunks were knapped with hammer-stones into useful smaller, tradable, ready-to-use chunks. These chunks travelled as raw material sometimes hundreds of kilometres and were manufactured, on the spot, into useful flint tools: knives, axes, scythes, scrapers, pierces, arrow-heads, etc. Sounds pretty modern, doesn't it?

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