A weekend outing as an amateur archeologist in Jordan often took me off the beaten track in search of uncharted Stone Age sites. But this particular site was just off the main road and onto another paved road. And it had the ruins of a stone building standing among the flint (actually quartz) scatter of stone age tools.

I collected this flake tool from a small site near the town of Qatrana, not far off the road from Amman, Jordan to the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea. In that area we found implements made of a blue-white stone, very hard and smooth like chalcedony. There were large boulders of the same stone at the nearby larger Qatrana site, where a large building, now in ruins, had been built from huge stones of this kind.

The flake shows not only the ridges and hollows resulting from the blows that struck it from its original core of rock, but the retouch chips that make the sharp edge. The people who made such implements are sometimes called the Jordanian Neanderthals, because they used the same level of technology in making their stone implements and they lived in caves and rock shelters.

Such flakes as this one could be used to carve meat off a bone, to scrape animal hides to make clothing or shelter, or as a hand plane to smooth a piece of wood or bone. In collecting such a tool from the North Arabian Desert, I acknowledged the survival efforts of the last human to handle the tool. I felt I owed something to my Middle Stone Age ancestors of 50,000 to 80,000 years before I came to Qatrana.

The implements that I collected in Jordan were dated by the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman, and I gave written reports on the more significant finds -- reports that were later published in the Journal of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities in 1980 and 1982.

Measurements: 3 cm x 5.5 cm

See more information on the collection at Crafts of the Past.