Mastering Hammer Use in Stone Knapping: An Experiment

  • Yoshihiro NishiakiEmail author
Part of the Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series book series (RNMH)


The art of chipped stone manufacturing is a result of repeated hammer use, which is enabled by the enhanced judgment and motor skills resulting from experiences of the knapper. Hammer accuracy should vary considerably according to the knappers’ skill levels. This article refers to an experiment to investigate how complete novices learn proper hammer use for core reduction. Results of the experiment show that the novices improved their command quickly through individual and social learning, but the progress plateaued soon thereafter. They also demonstrate that the novices learned from others, not only the knapping basics but also the posture required for the work. The role played by social learning in this process highlights the significance of social environments for effective learning of chipped stone manufacturing in prehistory.


Chipped stone technology Experimental archeology Expert knowledge Individual and social learning Hammerstone 



Analyses of the data presented in this paper were made possible with grants from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan (22101002; 16H06408).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University MuseumThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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