A type of hard stone, often gray in color, found in rounded nodules and usually covered with a white incrustation; a microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline form of silica containing some water and very fine pores, added to clay as an inert filler or aggregate. A member of the chalcedony group of water-bearing silica minerals, it was found from early use to fracture conchoidally and was ideal for making stone tools with sharp edges. It is chemically a quartz, but has a different microcrystalline structure. It can therefore be flaked readily in any direction and so shaped to many useful forms. It occurs widely, and where available was the basic material for man’s tools until the advent of metal; it is commonest “stone” of the Stone Age. The only types of stone preferred to it were obsidian and the tougher rocks used for ground tools in the Neolithic. The term is often used interchangeably with chert and also as a generic term denoting stone tools in the Old World. Nodules of flint occur commonly as seams in the upper and middle chalk of northwest Europe. During the Neolithic and Copper Age of Europe, flint workers recognized that flint from beds below ground were of superior quality to surface flint, especially for the manufacture of large tools such as axes. These beds were exploited by sinking shafts and then excavating galleries outwards. Flint mines are known from many areas of Europe and good examples occur in Poland (Krzemionki), Holland, Belgium (Spiennes), and England (Grimes Graves).
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A thin broad piece of stone detached from a larger mass for use as a tool; a piece of stone removed from a larger piece (core or nucleus) during knapping (percussion or pressure) and used in prehistoric times as a cutting instrument. Also, any casual cutting implement typically consisting of large pieces of debitage detached from a core, not “formed” tools. Flakes often served as blanks from which more complex artifacts – burins, scrapers, gravers, arrowheads, etc. – could be made. Waste flakes (debitage) are those discarded during the manufacture of a tool. Flakes may be retouched to make a flake tool or used unmodified. The process leaves characteristic marks on both the core and flake which makes it comparatively easy to distinguish human workmanship from natural accident.
A fluted and stemmed, fishlike stone tool of South America, dating to c. 11,000–8000 bc. The complex has some similarities to the Clovis of North America and is representative of the Paleoindian time in South America.
Chronological phase (c. 2130–1938 bc) between the Old Kingdom (2575–2130 bc) and the Middle Kingdom (1938–1600 bc), which appears to have been a time of relative political disunity and instability. The period includes the 9th dynasty (c. 2130–2080 bc), 10th dynasty (c. 2080–1970 bc), and 11th dynasty (c. 2081–1938 bc). (The period corresponds to Manetho’s 7th to 10th dynasties and the early part of the 11th dynasty.) After the end of the 8th dynasty, the throne passed to kings from Heracleopolis, who made their native city the capital. Major themes of inscriptions of the period are the provision of food supplies for people in times of famine and the promotion of irrigation works. In the 10th dynasty, a period of generalized conflict focused on twin dynasties at Thebes and Heracleopolis. The 11th dynasty made Thebes its capital. In the First Intermediate Period, monuments were erected by a larger section of the population and, in the absence of central control, internal dissent and conflicts of authority became visible in public records. Non-royal individuals took over some of the privileges of royalty, notably identification with Osiris in the hereafter and the use of the Pyramid Texts. These were incorporated into a more extensive corpus inscribed on coffins – the Coffin Texts – and continued to be inscribed during the Middle Kingdom.