This flint blade from Denmark was made by the indirect percussion technique. The blade dates to the end of the Mesolithic period, during the Ertebølle phase, ca. 6100-7500 BP. This was prior to the introduction of agriculture into the region in the Funnel Beaker (Neolithic) period, ca. 6000 BP.
The arrises and arrises on this blade are unusually regular for indirect percussion, and the blade may have been made using a pressure technique. However, the size and context of the blade suggest that it was made by indirect percussion; pressure blades in the Ertebølle phase tend to be relatively small. Differentiating the knapping techniques on individual blades is difficult because indirect percussion, soft-hammer direct percussion, and pressure techniques can all result in blades with diffuse bulbs and shallow platforms, as demonstrated by replication studies. Technique is more reliably determined at the assemblage level—by comparing the range of variation in blade attributes between sites—rather than on individual artefacts.
People during the Ertebølle phase were strongly oriented to the Baltic Sea and North Sea around Denmark and southwestern Sweden, practicing a mixed hunting-gathering-fishing economy. Their long-term living sites—referred to as ‘kitchen middens’—are rich with shells, fish and terrestrial animal bones, and tools made from flint, bone, and antler. High-quality flint is abundant in this region, and Ertebølle flintknappers were skilled practitioners of the indirect percussion blade-making technique.
Indirect percussion involves placing a punch on the platform edge of the core and detaching the blades by striking the end of the punch. By using a punch, the flintknapper can precisely manipulate the placement and angle of the blow that initiates fracture. Punches made from curved tines of red deer antlers were found at an Ertebølle phase site called ‘Grube-Rosenhof LA 58’, located in northern Germany.