About the Museum of Stone Tools
It may seem a far cry from the first generalised stone implement to the latest highly specialised aeroplane, but once the first step is taken the rest is comparatively easy.
- O. G. S. Crawford (1921)
Welcome to the Museum of Stone Tools! The Museum's mission is to promote stone artefact research to students and life-long learners. The Museum hosts a diverse collection of high-quality open-access 3D models of stone artefacts from all over the world.
Humans and their ancestors have been making stone tools continuously for some 3.3 million years, and all of our advanced technologies—from cell phones to Mars rovers—were implicit in that first stone tool.
The physical demands of stone-flaking drove evolutionary changes to the human hand, allowing the precise grips that underpin all manners of artistry and sport. Forethought and planning are necessary for complex stone-flaking, and this influenced the evolution of our unique cognitive abilities.
Ancient flaked stones have become icons for the deep past. The British Museum’s A History of the World in 100 Objects began with stone tools, and in symbolic recognition of the importance of stone tools in the history of technology, NASA sent a Clovis spearpoint to the International Space Station in 2015.
But we have not reached the end of stone-flaking. Stone and stone tools are important aspects of contemporary Indigenous cultures, and stonemasons continue to use stone-flaking techniques. The internet hosts a robust trade in modern-made tools: a thriving hobby of stone toolmakers—called ‘flintknappers’—share their skills in person and on social media. And recently-made stone tool ‘fakes’ continue to appear on the antiquities market.
The deep-time perspective provided by stone tools is unique for researchers interested in the origins and development of human technology. Many archaeologists devote their life’s work to studying stone tools, and flintknappers and experimenters have spent decades to learn stone working at the highest skill levels. The Museum of Stone Tools is grounded in the knowledge generated by these archaeologists and flintknappers world-wide.
The MoST’s interactive 3D models encourage visitors to manipulate these remarkable artefacts and to understand them as tangible objects rather than static images. The sidebar tools and annotations allow the users to fully appreciate the complexities of stone artefacts. There are various ways to use the Museum of Stone Tools:
- Start with our guide for how to use the online 3D models of stone tools to help you get the most from the models.
- Engage with the clickable map of stone tools to see examples of stone tools from around the world.
- Explore the museum's online collection of different types of stone tools.
- Or dig deep into the details of stone tool manufacture and analysis.
MoST's iconic image is a chert hollow-based arrowhead from North Africa, used for hunting around lakes and wetlands from about 4500-7500 years ago. Climate change subsequently caused the wetlands to disappear, forming the modern Sahara Desert.
My name is Mark Moore, and I am the Director and Principal Curator of the Museum of Stone Tools. My research explores how the evolution of hominin cognition—the way that humans think—is reflected in the way they organised their stone-flaking techniques to produce tools. I explore both extremes of stone working complexity, including tools made by non-modern hominins (such as Homo floresiensis, the ‘hobbits’ of Indonesia) and tools made by modern Homo sapiens in various parts of the world, including Australia, Indonesia, Arabia, Europe, India, and North America. The mechanical restrictions of stone flaking can cause similarities in outputs in the absence of complex intentions, a phenomenon I call the ‘spandrels effect’, and my theoretical and experimental research documents the nature and implications of this.
I learned to flintknap during my childhood in Indiana, and I use insights from experimental flintknapping in my study of complex reduction sequences practiced by flintknappers from throughout prehistory. This background is reflected in the way I have organised the Museum of Stone Tools, with its emphasis on how stone tools were made. I look forward to sharing with you my passion for stone tools and tool-making!
Expertise: Stone tools, lithic technology, flintknapping, experimental archaeology, cognitive archaeology, human evolution, Homo floresiensis.
Professor Mark Moore
Director, Museum of Stone Tools
Australian Research Council Future Fellow
Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology
University of New England, Australia
The Museum of Stone Tools was created on the land, and surrounded by a sense of belonging, both ancient and contemporary, of the Anaiwan people. We value and respect the Indigenous knowledge systems that support the Museum's content and aspirations.
The Museum of Stone Tools is built on the Pedestal 3D license to the University of New England, Australia. Special thanks to Sandy Pullen, Emma Watt, Michelle Richards, and colleagues in Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology for making the Museum possible. We also thank the many archaeologists and model-makers around the world who make their models available through Open Access licensing, often on the platform Sketchfab.
The Museum of Stone Tools is partially supported by an Australian Research Council grant to Professor Mark W. Moore (FT200100372).
Voyager Digital Web Design
Through Voyager Digital, Michelle Richards makes archaeology and historical research accessible to a general audience via digital humanities and mapping projects. Michelle adapts web functionality to the goal of research dissemination and community outreach. For the Museum of Stone Tools, Michelle integrates the stone tool models with searchable and filterable artefact data, along with interactive mapping tools and search engine optimisation.