Unless you’re an Anthropology student, if you have seen the Lithic Reduction Workshop posters around campus you may not even know what lithic reduction is. Lithic reduction, or flintknapping, is creating a tool out of stone, something all of our ancestors did a very long time ago, before Canadian Tire and Walmart.
The Manitoba Archaeological Society and Brandon University put on a Lithic Reduction Workshop at Brandon University on November 12th. In the beginning there were only two instructors scheduled to come but due to a large amount of interest a third instructor was asked. The instructors were Gord Hill, Chris Whaley and Gary Wowchuk and there was a limit of 36 participants. This workshop was open to anyone wishing to attend. It was $25, or $10 if you were a Manitoba Archaeological Society member.
The workshop began with the instructors talking a little about themselves, and what got them interested in lithic reduction and archaeology. Gord Hill then went on to explain the basics of the art of flintknapping. For the rest of the workshop, the approximately 25 participants got the opportunity to try it out for themselves. Each person selected a piece of leather to protect their leg, safety glasses, an antler to use as the instrument to knock off the flakes, and finally a large, broken piece of toilet tank. Yep, toilet tanks. Turns out the material toilet tanks are made from are great to use to practice flintknapping due to how they break apart when struck with the antler.
The instructors went around the room helping all the participants as everyone tried to turn their toilet tank into a spearhead or knife. Shards of toilet tank shot around the room and there were a few bandaids passed out.
By the end of the workshop, I think everyone left with a new respect for the people who had to make stone tools in order to survive and a deeper understanding for how they were made.