From Stone to Metal: the Dynamics of Technological Change in the Decline of Chipped Stone Tool Production. A Case Study from the Southern Levant (5th-1st Millennia BCE) Academic Article uri icon


  • The shift from stone to metal has been considered one of the main technological transformations in the history of humankind. In order to observe the dynamics underlying the disappearance of chipped stone tools and their replacement with metal implements, we adopt an approach which combines two different levels of analysis. At the first, by focusing on the Southern Levant as a case study, we consider the developmental forces internal to the technology itself and the conditions favorable to the invention, spread, continuation, or disappearance of technical traits. At the second, by considering specific historical scenarios, we test the existence of general principles which guide technological changes. Flint knapping and metallurgy, and notably their relationship, are particularly appropriate to observe regularities which operate at different scales, the first one within the developmental lines of objects, techniques and technologies, and the second one within the conditions of actualization of technological facts. On the one hand, following the “rules” of technical tendencies, a techno-logic perspective allows observation of how metal cutting objects, overcoming the “limits” of knapping technology, represent the logical development of flint tools. On the other hand, the analysis of the socioeconomic contexts in which chipped stone tools were produced permits identification of regularities which conditioned changes in lithic production systems, their decline, and the final replacement with metal tools.

publication date

  • January 1, 2019