Georgia Gwinnett College students explore the past using ancient technologies demonstration

Flintknapping includes the use of light, soft pieces of sandstone as hammerstones to break small pieces off hard pieces of obsidian to create a variety of sharp, lightweight stone tools.

Flintknapping includes the use of light, soft pieces of sandstone as hammerstones to break small pieces off hard pieces of obsidian to create a variety of sharp, lightweight stone tools. 

By Collin Elder

Ever wonder how ancient humans survived in a world where tools were forged by hand and weapons were made of stone? Through its anthropology minor, Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) provided some of the answers through a demonstration of survival techniques used by ancient humans.

The event, featuring a local primitive technologies expert, was organized by Dr. Kathryn Deeley, assistant professor of anthropology, along with fellow anthropology colleagues, Dr. Gregory Gullete, professor, Dr. Jenna Andrews-Swann, associate professor and Dr. Mary-Beth Chrostowsky, lecturer.

Deeley said the idea for the event came to her after attending a similar demonstration in 2019. GGC has hosted a variety of events for its new anthropology minor over the past three years, so the idea of hosting an event that brings to life the techniques students read about in their textbooks was exciting, she said.

“Our main goal was to attract students to the anthropology minor and raise awareness of the field in general,” said Deeley.

The demonstration offered students insight into several areas, primarily the use of primitive tools to secure food or provide life-saving utility. The focus of this demonstration was flintknapping, a technique for creating stone tools. The process included the use of light, soft pieces of sandstone as hammerstones to break small pieces off hard pieces of obsidian to create a variety of sharp, lightweight stone tools, such as projectile points, knives and awls.

Students were introduced to the atlatl, an ancient spear-thrower, and they learned how to handle this wooden tool to propel spears farther and harder than a human typically can throw them, giving an edge to primitive humans when hunting large, dangerous game, like mammoths. They also learned how to use a primitive bow to hunt. The bow was invented thousands of years after the atlatl was created.

Organizers are eager for more students to get involved with the new minor.

“Anthropology is often an overlooked course. People don’t always know what it is or what we will cover. So, we host these events to show people the exciting things you can learn through anthropology,” said Deeley. “The event was well attended and many GGC students, faculty, and staff remained engaged during the whole two-hour event. Because of the event’s success, we’ll plan another demonstration in the spring.”

Download anthropology stone age event gallery photos.

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