This small chert pressure blade core is from Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan. This famous ancient city was a major urban centre during the Harappan phase, a Bronze Age culture in the Indus Valley dating from ca. 3900-4600 BP.
The scars on the small blade core in this model shows the regularity and precision typical of blades made using the pressure technique. The core is roughly triangular in cross section, and removing the acute mass at the ‘corners’ may have been key for maintaining the convexity on the core face that is essential for serial blade removal. Small flakes have been removed across both the proximal and distal ends of the core, perhaps in an attempt to continue reduction. The flake removed across the proximal end removed much of the platform surface, which may have led to the abandonment of the core.
The artefact is curated in the UNE Museum of Antiquities.
See the annotations for technological details about this stone tool.
Mohenjo-daro was a planned city with mud-brick houses and structures covering about 300 hectares. The population may have been as high as 40,000 with a complex social organisation. The site was excavated by the archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler in the 1940s. Mohenjo-daro was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Archaeologists have characterised the Harappan lithic industry as ‘among the richest and most diverse known to archaeologists’. A variety of flintknapping techniques were used to produce blades, micro blades, spear points, arrowheads, stone drills, and beads from heat-treated cherts. Techniques practiced during the Harappan period included hard- and soft-hammer direct percussion, indirect percussion using a soft punch or metal punch, bifacial pressure flaking, and blade production using pressure. For pressure blades, the core was first shaped by direct percussion and perhaps indirect percussion, with up to three bifacially-flaked ‘crests’ to guide the first blade removals. Removing these crests, possibly by indirect percussion on the larger cores, established the long, straight ridges that guided the remainder of reduction. The core platform was reduced around its circumference, creating a bullet-shaped core. Many of the blades were trapezoidal in cross section. There is evidence that copper/bronze pressure flaking tools were sometimes used to remove the pressure blades.