Stone tools are one of the hallmarks of the archaeology of the Mesolithic era, which lasted between about 8,500 B.C. and 4,000 B.C and is also known as the Middle Stone Age. The importance of stone tools gave rise to the name “Mesolithic,” which is drawn from the Greek for middle “mesos” and stone “lithos.” Although the stone tools were crucial in the lives of people living at that time, the tools were not the only objects these people made and used. Stone tools are, however, usually the only objects to survive into the present day. As History Scotland Magazine points out, “the Mesolithic tool kit was mostly made from organic materials that have long since decayed, such as bone, antler, skin and wood.” There were three main types of stone tool, used for different purposes.
Small stone blades are commonly associated with the Mesolithic era. Stone age people used good quality flint to produce the blades, often producing a large number of blades from a single piece of stone. Archeologists in Sweden have found evidence that the small blades, known as “microliths,” could be attached to shafts of wood to form primitive arrows.
Stone Age people often adapted many of their blades to other uses. One common tactic was to use a blade as a scraper. Stone Age people were hunter-gatherers, and when they killed an animal for food, they also made use of its bones and skin. People used animal skins for clothing and to make sacks and water carriers, but before the skins could be used they had to be scraped clean of any remaining flesh. The sharp edges of flint scrapers proved ideal for this purpose.
As the Stone Age continued, people became more skilful in making tools, giving rise to a tradition of “heavy blade” flint-making. These flints were larger and, as the name suggests, heavier, allowing people to create fearsome arrowheads and tips for spears and other stabbing weapons. These tools could be used to hunt a variety of animals, including fish and wildfowl and, if necessary, for protection against other people.