Basics of Lithic Technology


Technological purpose served by flakes


Remove arris

One of the first requirement in reducing a quarry core is to eliminate prominent arrises from corners. These flakes are often the basis for robust scraping tools. Continuing to follow successive arrises creates blades. Camp tools usually are thicker than 6-mm, and must be created relatively early in the reduction process.


The final series of flakes on formal camp tools are often designed simply to achieve a requisite thickness.

Surface contouring

Some flakes are specially planned to give projectiles aerodynamic symmetry.

Clip corners

When tabular material is obtained at the quarry, corners are often clipped by wedge-shaped flakes to provide striking platforms near a core surface. The clipped corners may be used to estimate thickness of the source material.

Thin base

Hafting requires basal taper and thinning that is sometimes produced by special flakes. Channel flakes taken from the base, called flutes, are an extreme example.

Position impact offset

Similar to corner clipping, short bevel flakes are often used to make sure that the flake starts deep enough to achieve its desired thickness.


Edges of knives and projectiles are sometimes serrated by specialized flakes related to notching.


Notching is accomplished by various means, but distinctive flakes looking like flattened cones are useful for recognizing when notching has taken place.


Sharpening is typically performed repeatedly from the same face, producing beveled edges. The flakes can be remarkably uniform in size and shape.