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that you are standing on top of one of the high South Downs
hills of England
Windmill Hill, or Telegraph Hill - on a bright June Morning.
You can see for miles to Portsmouth and the sea to the south
and to Petersfield to the north. All
around you is a lush green landscape of grasslands and forest.
Now imagine that it is 8,000 years ago in the middle of the
Mesolithic age. There are no
houses, no towns, no roads. The
sea is still here but there is no Portsmouth, no Petersfield.
When night falls the only light is that of the stars; and when
day breaks, the only food is the food you can gather yourself.
You and your family have walked a thousand miles from France or Spain,
as you do every year, following the game herds and the summer sun.
You have little or nothing in the way of possessions, other than
the animal skins you wear, and perhaps some arrows or a spear.
You live in a world that is freezing in winter and sweltering in summer. You
have no home, no job, no bank account or credit cards.
You must provide your own shelter, your own food, your own
clothes. You must find
water, hunt game, cut wood, raise a family, make fire, heal wounds, read
the weather, navigate on your annual migrations.
In this contest with nature,
you have only one asset. It
is as hard as diamond, as sharp as a razor.
It can be shaped by those who have learned how into axes that build
homes, or into tiny slivers that tip an arrow. It can butcher the game
you kill, scrape the hides that clothe you and shelter you. It lights
the fire that warms you and cooks your food.
It is black and glossy, it shatters like glass, and it is strewn
everywhere over the beaches and chalk hills of Southern England.
You are a Stone Age man or woman
and you come back to these hills year after year, as your fathers and
grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers, came
before you because of the flint that is there.
Welcome to the Museum of The Stone
Age, a website that is devoted to discovering how our ancestors
endured against all odds because of their highly developed survival
skills and because they learned how to use one of the most
remarkable natural substances flint, also known as chert.
By exploring the pages of this Museum, you will
learn what flint is, how humans learned to use
flint to make tools and weapons and how the development of
technology over a million years was instrumental in enabling humans to
adapt, survive and colonise the entire planet.
There's a page on Microliths and why they
were important to our Mesolithic ancestors and a page on how to identify
flint implements you find.
of history and archaeology there's a page of useful background
material for projects. And there's a What
on earth is this? page to help identify mystery objects.
Above all, there are also the hundreds of detailed photographs in the
Palaeolithic Gallery, the Mesolithic
and the Neolithic Gallery showing the kind of
flint implements from the Museums collection, that are commonly found
the world over.
I hope you enjoy your visit and that you will come again.
Museum of The Stone Age