To make a point: Ethnographic reality and the ethnographic and experimental replication of Australian macroblades known as leilira

01st June 2007

Kim Akerman

Akerman AA64 Figure 2

Knapping stone at Camooweal (published in Australian Archaeology 64:25).

Long macroblades, generally known in Australia as leilira blades and created by direct percussion, were used as knives and spear points in many parts of northern and Central Australia until very recently. By the 1960s, however, it is clear that there were no Indigenous knappers remaining who could produce such blades in a regular and consistent manner. There are very few ethnographic accounts of the manufacture of these blades and those that do exist generally lack technological detail that is useful to those wishing to understand the reduction processes involved in their creation. More recent studies involving Indigenous knappers have provided important insights into many concepts relating to stone as a ‘living entity’ with power, the significance of the blades, access to quarries and other social phenomena rather than successfully demonstrating the technology itself. It is apparent that, dependent on the form of the raw material, a number of different techniques were used to produce these blades. This paper seeks to examine the Australian literature relevant to the production of leilira blades and, drawing on experimental work, to consider the technological factors relevant to the knapping process.

Kim Akerman
To make a point: Ethnographic reality and the ethnographic and experimental replication of Australian macroblades known as leilira
June 2007
64
23-34
Article
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