This replica biface was made to explore techniques of secondary thinning. The biface was knapped from Peoria/Keokuk chert from Oklahoma by flintknapper Mark Moore in 2018.
The biface in this model shows secondary thinning by the removal thinning flakes that propagated nearly edge-to-edge. The flakes were struck from isolated platforms prepared by a combination of pressure and percussion flaking. The technology is similar to that practised by Solutrean flintknappers in the early stages of making prestige laurel-leaf bifaces, and by Palaeoindian flintknappers in the later stages of making large Clovis points. The biface was coated in charcoal powder for photogrammetry.
Mark Moore is a contemporary flintknapper and archaeologist based at the University of New England, and the Director of the Museum of Stone Tools.
He first became interested in flintknapping in 1979 after watching flintknapper Greg Thomas at a Center for American Archeology summer camp in Kampsville, Illinois. Inspired by this demonstration, Mark taught himself bifacial thinning techniques by trial and error, using hammerstones and antler billets and pressure flakers on Wyandotte chert from southern Indiana. He aspired to make stone tools like those from the archaeological record of the American Midwest.
Mark attended the Fieldschool of Lithic Technology in 1988, receiving advanced flintknapping instruction from Jeff Flenniken, Phil Wilke, Terry Ozbun, and Gene Titmus. There he learned bifacial percussion flaking using a soft hammerstones, serial pressure flaking techniques, and pressure blade manufacture. He knapped obsidian for the first time and was introduced to copper pressure flaking tools.
In 1996 Mark emigrated to Australia and began replicating Aboriginal stone tool types. In 2004 he was taught by Kim Akerman the traditional pressure flaking techniques used by Aboriginal flintknappers in the northwest Kimberley region to make serrated dart points. In 2013 he began working with short antler punches for thinning bifaces.
Mark instructs Australian students in basic flintknapping skills, and has engaged in workshops with Traditional Owners in Queensland, New South Wales, and the Kimberley region of Western Australia, as well as with archaeological colleagues in Indonesia. In 2012 Mark formed the Australasian Flintknappers Guild as an informal group dedicated to learning advanced flintknapping techniques. He continues to engage in stone-flaking workshops with Aboriginal people on country.
Mark uses traditional flintknapping tools, such as hammerstones, antler billets, wood billets, antler or bone pressure flakers, and occasionally copper or fencing wire pressure flakers. By ca. 2013 students were attending flinknapping sessions with copper billets (‘boppers’) they purchased online, so to learn about these tools, Mark purchased a set in 2014. He alternated between copper and antler percussion flaking until ca. 2019, mastering the use of copper billets, and has since switched back to using the more challenging traditional flintknapping tools.
Mark’s percussion technique is unusual because, for work on small to medium-sized bifaces, he rarely relies on his leg to support the piece. Because of this, and some 30 years fine-tuning his body to using relatively light antler tools, the use of tip-heavy copper billets caused incremental but irreparable damage to tendons in the elbow and shoulder of his dominant arm. This is a cautionary tale about potential long-term injuries caused by stone flaking.
Mark enjoys replicating bifacial technologies, particularly those from North America, Europe, and the Kimberley region of Australia. He also replicates Aboriginal stone tools such as macroblade points and knives, tula adzes, horsehoof cores, and edge-ground axes.