Feature

The Stone Masters

Toolmakers at work and children at play reflect ancient technology

By
11:03am, April 8, 2003

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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