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The Stone Masters

Toolmakers at work and children at play reflect ancient technology

In the Indonesian island village of Langda, located on Irian Jaya near its border with Papua New Guinea, a half-dozen men sit in an open space, chipping fragments out of rocks. It's not rocket science, but it's a veritable rock science still practiced by a handful of groups around the world. The men are making double-edged stone blades for adzes, scythe-like tools with wooden handles that the Langda have traditionally used to clear land and to work wood. Several of the men show great dexterity in shaping stones into implements, a process known as stone or flint knapping. Each man holds a grapefruit-size stone in his right hand that he uses as a hammer to strike a rock braced against a piece of driftwood with his left hand.

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