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Lithics Ireland
Lithic Analysis and Consultancy

Mesolithic flake

The title's quote comes from Knowles' 1889 paper on his fieldwork, where he collected lithics made from various raw materials. He commented on the difficulty of identifying such lithics and the consequent biases produced in the archaeological record. However, these comments were effectively overlooked, and flint continued until recently to be perceived as the premier lithic raw material: the Antrim flint deposits were regarded as the lynchpin of Irish prehistory, and, when noted, other materials were seen as substitutes rather than proper materials in their own right. This article outlines research on the social archaeology of the Mesolithic in the west of Ireland, and how the 'flint gaze' has shaped our understanding of prehistory. The article's main focus will be on the social implications of the variety of lithic raw materials that were used at that time – materials that included chert, siltstone, greywacke, quartz, slate, flint, tuffs, and rhyolite, as well as other types used in the manufacture of stone axes.

(Online version is available from Internet Archaeology)

  • Lithics Ireland Consultancy
  • Galway, Ireland