Blog 109 – 20.9.18..a prehistoric cut above..

September is actually the New Year. I mean…it should be. It’s the end of the holidays and it’s when school starts. It’s when ones thoughts turn, pretty abruptly, from the frivolity of frolicking in sandals to the sturdy lace-ups of more indoor-based activities…like studying… And so, with the aim of stimulating my brain cells rather than my melanin pigment…I wandered off to New Scientist Live 2018 at London’s Excel Centre – a kind of science festival. There are so many choices of things to learn, do, and see in London….it’s marvellous..and overwhelming. The place was teeming with very intelligent people, at least one Nobel laureate and lots of school children.

Now, I kind of don’t like to admit this, but I like knives. Knives have an undeservedly bad reputation, in my opinion. I don’t go anywhere without my Swiss Army knife – mostly because I like to be prepared (girl-scout style) for any urgent and necessary apple-slicing that may be needed. I understand that many people collect knives with fancy handles and display swords etc above their mantlepieces (OK, some people do). But I don’t like knives because of how they look/how big/how small or even how sharp they are. I like them, because they were likely man’s first and most basic tool…the thing we invented when we first decided we wanted to do/make/shape things more easily and conveniently…when we first decided not to accept things as they are. Our first technology. So. Imagine my excitement when I came across a stand run by a young man called James Dilley – a large display of stone tools, cave art, prehistoric toys…and a handaxe workshop where (for free), James taught us how to make a handaxe (a prehistoric knife) out of a lump of flint. I sat at the front and watched him very carefully as he produced a serviceable flint handaxe in under 10 minutes. I had seen this done before, and I had tried once before, pretty unsuccessfully, to produce one myself. But I really focused on how James held both the flint and the hammerstone with which he was shaping (knapping) it. And then I told myself I was Michelangelo…that is, that the handaxe was already inside the stone and all I had to do was chisel it out…and I think it worked…I produced something that looked quite like the real thing (see pics). I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get home to see if it worked…and it kind of did, though I doubt it would help much if I had to butcher a deer…

I’m sure I remember reading somewhere about a butcher (Italian, I think) who was going around doing demonstrations/lectures on knife/butchery skills…he was worried that we were going to lose this skill, along with many others we have already lost/are losing. All I can say is, if I can knock one of these up, there is definitely hope for the future of mankind.

Thanks to husband for donating a piece of his dinner in the cause of experimental archaeology.



my handaxe!..made by me!!


Hammerstone, antler shaping tool and finished handaxe


How to get at bone marrow with your handaxe


About aintwegotitmade

Who am I?.......well, I'm getting to that age where I have to think about that before I answer... My name is J, I'm married, and my husband and I live in the great city of London. I started this blog as an update to family and friends when I completely ruptured my Achilles tendon a few years ago (see The first post). I am so fortunate in every possible way...and in all honesty, I'm just using this blog to remind myself... Why is it called Ain't we got it made?: this is a line from one of my favourite songs (Sing Baby Sing - Have I got it made? Well - I've got a roof over my head, running water right into my house, a fully-stocked supermarket round the corner, free and readily available healthcare; and I live with my lovely husband in a great city, in a beautiful country, where I feel safe and secure.... I rest my case. Fact or opinion: I am not an expert on anything… but I can confirm that everything in this blog is either fact or opinion. I hope to post regularly, mostly about things I find uplifting, positive, amusing, optimistic, important..or perhaps just about regular daily life...but I won't bother you too much. Thanks for stopping by... jx
This entry was posted in Education/learning, Everyday Life in London, Fun/Humour, Good Life, London, Making things, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Blog 109 – 20.9.18..a prehistoric cut above..

  1. Caroline Daws says:

    Well done J, an excellent hand axe!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s