Sometimes, we simply don’t know. The flint tool you see in this photo is really old. But just how much is “really old”?
Let’s take a step back to what we do know. Pictured here is Elroi Levi, who joined his dad at work one day during Passover break and found a knapped flint !
So, exactly is a what is knapped flint? Well, flint is a hard rock that tends to have a very sharp edge when it breaks. Prehistoric humans figured out that breaking off multiple chips, in a process called “knapping”, allowed them to shape these rocks into many types of tools, such as knives, cleavers, arrowheads, or in this case – a scraper – a tool primarily in leather and woodworking.
So, now that we know what it is, we ask when is it from? and, as the first line stated – we simply don’t know. The main problem we have is that flint was so common, that long after the invention of bronze and iron, some flint tools stayed in play, so to speak. The flint even had a certain advantage – resharpening an uneven metal blade can be
quite the ordeal – but with a flint, all you need is to knapp off a few new chips, and you’ve got a fresh working edge.
Theoretically, this type of tool can be from almost any period in prehistory and even later, but we can (possibly) narrow down the potential date. We know two things: on the one hand – even tough flint scrapers were used well into the Bronze and Iron age – they were pretty rare. In later periods, when a piece of glass could be used to gain the same advantages, flint tools all but disappear, on the other hand – finds that predate the Bronze Age are extremely rare in
Jerusalem. All in all, while we can’t rule out other dates, our best guess points towards the 2nd or 3rd millennia BCE.
Not bad for a bring-your-kid-to-work-day!