Image of the month

This month’s image shows the surfaceAntler image of a deer antler that has been used for flint knapping.  The scanning electron microscope image has been combined with an x-ray map that shows the distribution of silicon (red).  High silicon content means that this element can be used to indicate the presence of flint particles in the sample. Flint knapping is a technique whereby a tool (in this case the antler) is used like a hammer to remove small shards from a piece of flint; in this way the flint can be transformed into a sharp cutting edge.  Historically, this technique was used to produce edged tools prior to the development of metalworking technologies.  The modern tool shown here is example of experimental archaeology; an area of study where archaeologists seek to recreate techniques and artefacts from the past to gain a better understanding of them.  A combination of SEM and energy dispersive x-ray analysis (EDX) makes it possible to identify particles of flint embedded in the surface of the antler. 


This image was captured by Dr Chris Stain, working in conjunction with Dr Stuart Black of the Department of Archaeology.

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