Early Use of Pressure Flaking on Lithic Artifacts at Blombos Cave, South Africa

Vincent Mourre
Paola Villa
Christopher S. Henshilwood

Please visit https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/kip_articles/1489 to view this article.


Pressure flaking has been considered to be an Upper Paleolithic innovation dating to ~20,000 years ago (20 ka). Replication experiments show that pressure flaking best explains the morphology of lithic artifacts recovered from the ~75-ka Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. The technique was used during the final shaping of Still Bay bifacial points made on heat‐treated silcrete. Application of this innovative technique allowed for a high degree of control during the detachment of individual flakes, resulting in thinner, narrower, and sharper tips on bifacial points. This technology may have been first invented and used sporadically in Africa before its later widespread adoption.