Home Magazines Editors-in-Chief FAQs Contact Us

Stone tools beyond traditional functions: the journey of lithics from profane to ceremonial


The production of flint tools evolved and diversified in response to the increasing and newly appearing demands of the early societies. The maintenance of this tradition coupled with the durability of stone tools resulted in the development of the lithic tool kit and the accumulation of large lithic assemblages mainly in settlements. The twentieth century witnessed the wide investigation of those assemblages through techno-typological approaches that aim at classifying and interpreting lithic assemblages and using them to reconstruct the chronological and cultural phases of given societies. The wide use of stone tools in daily-life activities i.e. hunting, gathering, farming, and food processing, enhanced the perception of lithics as functional objects that are mainly associated with secular activities. However, investigating the changing roles of stone tools over time remained partially overlooked. Apart from finely-made flint knives, the ritual functions of stone tools remain an unexplored research area. The current paper focuses on assessing the symbolic roles of the Predynastic lithics based on their use as grave goods. The results show that varied classes of tools were recruited for funerary purposes and that the evolving roles of lithics were influenced by a long process of human-nature and people-object interactions.


Predynastic Egypt, stone tool, grave good, funerary practice, cemetery