Period: Stone Age (15.000 BC – 1700 BC)


Project title: From Flint to Fish: A Stone Age Challenge


Researcher: Steven M. Watts, USA

Email: stevewatts(at)


Year: 2009


In 2009 AD we surround ourselves with countless objects and tools. In 10.000 BC man probably owned very few finished objects. Stone Age people travelled from settlement to settlement and could not carry large amounts of equipment. But nor was there a great need for fished tools as the necessary objects were made as the need arose from the natural raw materials at hand. In this experiment Steven Watts will try to do as the Stone Age people and go through a manufacturing process collecting and processing raw materials to the practical use of the tool. The goal is to produce a working fishing equipment with lines, hooks, weights, fishing spears and more. The starting point consists of the accessible materials in a Northern European Stone Age environment, like flint, wood, grasses, bone and antler. The experiment is concluded by putting the fishing gear to the test and assessing the effectiveness of the tools.



The Researchers Conclusions:


Starting out with only one flint nodule and one hammer stone, and using only stone age technologies, the challenge was to produce fishing gear (hooks, lines, floats, lures, sinkers, harpoons, etc) utilizing tools made from that one nodule and raw materials gathered in the local landscape. Two tools kits emerged during the project—a manufacturing kit (the tools produced from the flint nodule) and the fishing kit (the implements produced using the manufacturing kit).

Records were kept of all manufacturing efforts and the resulting tools. An inventory of all raw materials utilized during the project was maintained. Fish were successfully taken using six different types of Stone Age hooks and four different types of Stone Age harpoons. Unsuccessful attempts were also noted along with tool damage and repair.

The research question addressed during the project centered on the archaeologically “invisible” technologies involved in Stone Age fishing. It was therefore the aim to identify characteristics of the manufacturing tool kit, create the possibility of recognizing composite hook and harpoon components in the archaeological record, and an understanding of the techniques beyond the tools.


Reference number HAFF 15/09