Calling all intelligent lifeforms

“We’ll be saying a big hello to all intelligent lifeforms everywhere and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys.” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Call me biased but I think the contribution of stone tools to the success of human kind is much under-rated – something Douglas Adams clearly understood. They’ve been with us for millions of years. For most of the time that we, and our hominin forebears, have walked the earth stone tools have been vital to our survival. In fact its only in the last three thousand years or so – a mere grain of sand on the great beach of eternity – that we’ve learned how to get by without them.

Now don’t get me wrong metal has its advantages. I’m as glad as the next person that I don’t have to resort to fashioning my own knife from a lump of flint in order to chop my spuds and carrots (neither of which would of course have been available to our prehistoric ancestors but that’s another story). But the fact is we wouldn’t have survived the hundreds of thousands of years that we took to figure out how to identify metal ores (more rock by the way, but I’ll let it pass) and to smelt metal if we hadn’t been able to transform rock into tools.

Just a few of the remarkable collection of stone tools housed in Avebury Museum; including chisels from Switzerland, axes from Brittany and a Danish dagger.

Just a few of the remarkable collection of stone tools housed in Avebury Museum; including chisels from Switzerland, axes from Brittany and a Danish dagger.

So in homage to the achievements of our stone tool making predecessors on Wednesday 6 November I’m going to be running a Stone Tools workshop at Avebury. If you’d like to join me we’ll look at how prehistoric people made and used all manner of stone tools, and you’ll learn how to recognise stone tools and worked flint. Along the way you’ll handle real Neolithic and Bronze Age tools and have the chance to see hidden treasures from our museum collections that aren’t normally on display.

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About Dr Nick

Dr Nick Snashall is Archaeologist for Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. She is fascinated by prehistoric stones, large and small, and their potential for unlocking the secrets of our past. Nick is co-director of Living with Monuments (an AHRC funded research project aiming to address our lack of knowledge of Neolithic settlement and non-monumental activity through targetted fieldwork and archival research into the Avebury region) and Ground -Truthing Stonehenge’s ‘Superhenge’: excavations at Durrington Walls (Current Archaeology's 2017 Research Project of the Year)

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