Cores and Flakes

Stone-flaking involves striking pieces off a rock. The pieces are called ‘flakes’, and the rock is called a ‘core’. At the most basic level, all stone tools are either cores or flakes.  The history of stone technology tracks how humans have refined their stone-flaking techniques to make the specific cores and flakes they needed for tools.

Cores and flakes were first produced in the Lomekwian period in Kenya, about 3.3 million years ago, but systematic and well-controlled stone-flaking was not in place until the Oldowan period in Ethiopia, about 2.6 million years ago.  Simple cores and flakes persisted right up until the present day, with more elaborate stone-flaking technologies appended onto this simple foundation.

Reducing a core can involve strategic planning, by striking off flakes in a certain way in anticipation of how you want the core to look many flake-removals into the future.  For example, Levallois cores, made early in the evolution of our species, are an example of core reduction that required strategic planning.  But simple core reduction can be done without strategic planning, by only worrying about the immediate flake removal, and adjusting to the effects of removing that flake when striking off the next one.  This can be done without planning ahead, and the approach is sometimes called ‘least effort’ flaking.

Horsehoof core ARPA with resharpening scars

Horsehoof Core

Horsehoof core resharpening flake revised

Horsehoof Core Resharpening Flake

Multiplatform core, Anaiwan

Multiplatform Core

Pebble-edged core, Corindi Beach

Pebble-Edged Core

Pebble edge core Moonee Beach ARPA 1

Pebble-Edged Core

Pebble-edged core Moonee

Pebble-Edged Core

Flake, block-on-block, Mithaka

Quarry Debris

Flake, Quarry Mithaka

Quarry Flake

Single platform core

Single Platform Core

Single platform core rock show

Single Platform Core

Single platform core NT Darrell Lewis

Single Platform Core

Single platform core, Anaiwan 1

Single Platform Core

Soa core 11

Bifacial Core

Centripetal core Liang Bua 7

Centripetal Core

Soa core 3 conjoin

Centripetal Core

Liang Bua centripetal core re-do

Centripetal Core

Flake, Kobatuwa

Flake

Core 5 Soa basin

Multiplatform Core

Multiplatform Mata Menge 7

Multiplatform Core

Core 10, Soa basin

Multiplatform Core

Core 9 So'a Basin

Multiplatform Core

Core 7, Soa Basin

Multiplatform Core

Core 6, Soa Basin

Multiplatform Core

Core 8, pick, Soa Basin

Multiplatform Core, ‘Pick’

Core 4 soa basin

Retouched Cobble, ‘Perforator’

Multiplatform core, Azerbaijan

Core

Levallois core, Israel

Levallois Core

Levallois point Israel

Levallois Point

Cobble chopper, Niger

Bifacial Core

Levallois Nubian re-do silver

Levallois Core

Levallois core 1

Levallois Core

Levallois nubian core quartzite egypt

Levallois Core

screenshot (7)

Levallois Core

Levallois Nubian YP

Levallois Core

Core, Tanzania

Oldowan Core

Spheroid, Olduvai Gorge

Spheroid

Ukraine cobble core Oleksandr

Core

Flake patinated Germany

Flake

Ukraine flake Oleksandr

Flake

Flake, OS France AIA

Flake

Flake, Italy AIA

Flake

Flake, Biddenham AIA

Flake

Flake, Sheddon Hill UK, AIA

Flake

Levallois core plaster cast

Levallois Core

Levallois core Germany re-do 1

Levallois Core

Levallois Les eysies 1

Levallois Core

Levallois flake France

Levallois Flake

Levallois flake plaster

Levallois Flake

Biface thinning flake, USA

Biface Thinning Flake

Clovis platter biface Maine

Bifacial Core

Bipolar core, Indiana

Bipolar Core

Bipolar core, USA

Bipolar Core

Hafted flake, Chile

Hafted Flake