Hafting is a process by which an artifact, often bone, metal, or stone is attached to a haft (handle[1] or strap). This makes the artifact more useful by allowing it to be shot (arrow), thrown (spear), or used with more effective leverage (axe or hammer). When constructed properly, hafting can tremendously improve a weapon's damage and range. It is estimated that hafted weapons were most common during the Upper Paleolithic and Middle Paleolithic. Hafting was a significant milestone in the history of technology. It was one of the first tools where hominins took separate elements and united them into a single tool increasing the efficiency and use of it. The development of hafting was considered a significant milestone of humans by archaeologists. It was not only a significant improvement in the technology at the time but archaeologists also believe that hafting shows the progression and development of the human mind and shows the path toward a world of complex tool making of the past. The idea of assembling two different kinds of materials into one object that improves the functioning of the tool overall shows the mental capacity of the people of that time and gives archaeologist a better understanding of the progression of human life.

Hafting weapons is perhaps best known for its use by humans in prehistory, but it is still practiced by enthusiasts today and the handle of a tool such as an ax is still known as a haft. Many people still practice the hafting techniques by using old-fashioned methods to figure out the best way to attach a handle onto tools, while improving the overall structure and function. Hafting has evolved through the past and the idea can still be seen in the structure of modern-day tools such as hammers, axes, and many other hand tools. The evolution of hand tools such as hammers, and axes would be greatly altered had the people of our past failed to invent the idea of hafting. The methods of hafting and the hafting process have also varied and evolved over the years.

The hafting process

There must be some way to attach the artifact to the strap or shaft, and to this end, flanges are often created on one end (the end opposite the cutting edge). Flanges are produced by a process of knapping or grinding the excess stone away, resulting in indentations in the piece.

If a shaft or handle is to be used, it must also be prepared in some way. Wood is frequently used (in the USA, commonly Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) due to its soft structure that eases chipping away at the end of the shaft to which the tool is to be affixed. A good piece of wood has a diameter large enough to provide adequate strength yet small enough to hold comfortably for long periods of time. A common practice of hafting is to remove the outer layer of bark where the handhold would be to prevent cuts and the painful imperfections found in bark. Attaching the tool to the shaft can be difficult which is why there are two main methods used to soften the wooden shaft including burning the end, and/or soaking it in water. These soften the material to easily allow the slits to be cut vertically into the center of the shaft. This provides a place for the "head" of the tool or weapon to fit. Alternatively, the shaft may be split down the center which allows the artifact to fully sit within the shaft, and once fully wrapped up, can be much stronger.

The artifact can then be inserted into the slit, and fixed to the shaft by tying around the flanges with a suitable material. Materials such as Australian Sea Grass Cordage, and split deer intestine can be used due to its high strength and durability once installed. Some people will wrap the material around the handle as well to add grip. The main disadvantage with wrapping the tool onto the shaft arises after usage when the fibers lose their tension and become loose. High humidity is also a contributing factor to the fibers losing tension. On occasion, glue is added for extra support. When glue or any other resin is used, the hafting is said to be mastic. Mastic hafts are also very strong and reliable since there is little to no movement of the tool. Glue also has an advantage of absorbing shock when hardened, which helps with cushioning. Before industrial glue was readily available, people would use a variety of plant or animal materials to make glue. Many prehistoric glues were combination of materials, such as animal feces, tree bark, and charcoal. The main downside of mastic hafts is the time consuming and difficult construction process. Alternatively, the head may simply be forced into the shaft, if the shaft is soft enough, eliminating the need for a slit (and perhaps improving durability). If a strap is used, it is tied directly to the flanges of the artifact.[2]

Generally it takes a much longer time to create the actual haft binding than it does the tool used in the half. The tool, such as a projectile point, typically takes up to twenty minutes whereas the haft binding takes several hours. Often many times throughout a haft's life cycle, the tool will be replaced or sharpened and reattached to the shaft to keep the haft as effective and precise as possible.

Hafting in prehistory

More than 125,000 years ago, early Archaic Homo sapiens such as Homo heidelbergensis developed the extensive use of hafted stone tools. Over time, hafting evolved and tools became deadlier with more control. Evolution has brought hafts with small shafts and dull stone tools to longer stronger shafts with sharper, narrower tools that were better suited for piercing and cutting. In much more recent times, hafted axes and weapons have benefited from tapering. By offsetting the diameters of a tool with a cylindrical base, and a hole in the shaft, a much more secure fit can be made, assuring the ax head stays in place. Hafting stone points in particular was an important advancement in the weapons of early humans. These hafted stone points increased the force and effectiveness of these tools therefore allowing people to hunt and kill animals more efficiently. The increased efficiency of hunting and killing animals is believed to have allowed for people of this time to have regular access to meat and other high quality foods. The increase in the consumption of meat around this time could be directly linked to increases in brain size that is reported in the archaeology record of this time. The invention of hafting by people more than hundreds of thousands of years ago has directly contributed to the health and lives of people in the past and also people in the future.

Multiple lines of evidence indicate that ~500,000-year-old stone points from the archaeological site of Kathu Pan 1 (KP1), South Africa, functioned as spear tips.[3] This has led teams of researchers to come to the conclusion that common ancestors of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals started hafting almost 500,000 years ago.

See also


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0). Oxford University Press 2009
  2. ^ Keeley, Lawrence. "Hafting and Retooling: Effects on the Archaeological Record". American Antiquity. 47 (4): 789–809. doi:10.2307/280285. JSTOR 280285.
  3. ^ Wilkins, J.; Schoville, B. J.; Brown, K. S.; Chazan, M. (15 November 2012). "Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology". Science. 6109. 338 (6109): 942–946. doi:10.1126/science.1227608. PMID 23161998.

Further reading

  • Keeley, Lawrence H. Hafting and Retooling: Effects on the Archaeological Record. N.p.: Society for American Archaeology, 1982. Print.
  • "Hafting a Stone Blade the Old-Fashioned Way Page 1." Hafting a Stone Blade. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.
  • Wynn, Thomas. "Hafted spears and the archaeology of mind." PNAS. N.p., 16 June 2009. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://www.pnas.org/content/106/24/9544.full>.
  • Rots, Veerle. Prehension and hafting traces on flint tools a methodology. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2010. Print. ISBN 9058678016
  • VN, Sreeja. "Oldest Stone-Tipped Spears Found; Early Humans Started Hafting 500,000 Years Ago." International Business Times . IB Media Inc., Nov. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.
Art of the Middle Paleolithic

The oldest undisputed examples of figurative art are known from Europe and from Sulawesi, Indonesia, dated about 35,000 years old (Art of the Upper Paleolithic).

Together with religion and other cultural universals of contemporary human societies, the emergence of figurative art is a necessary attribute of full behavioral modernity.

There are, however, some examples of non-figurative designs which somewhat predate the Upper Paleolithic, beginning about 70,000 years ago (MIS 4).

These include the earliest of the Iberian cave paintings, including a hand stencil at the Cave of Maltravieso, a simple linear design, and red paint applied to speleothems, dated to at least 64,000 years ago and as such attributable to Neanderthals. Similarly, the Blombos Cave of South Africa yielded some stones with engraved grid or cross-hatch patterns, dated to some 70,000 years ago, but they are attributed to Homo Sapiens.

In September 2018, scientists reported the discovery of the earliest known drawing by Homo sapiens, which is estimated to be 73,000 years old, much earlier than the 43,000 years old artifacts understood to be the earliest known modern human drawings found previously.

Chaodaogou culture

Chaodaogou culture (Chinese 抄道溝, Chaodaogou Wenhua) was a late Bronze Age nomadic archeological culture in the northern Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Henan provinces of China, its center is located between the bend of the river Hunahe and the drainage basin of the Liao 遼/辽 river. Chaodaogou culture is cautiously dated to c. the 9th to 8th centuries BCE, falling within Western Zhou period of the Central Plain (Zhongyuan) area (in the middle and lower course of the Yellow River). The type site of the culture is Chaodaogou in Qinglong county, Hebei, excavated in May 1961. Another typical site of this culture is a cemetery in Linzheyu (林遮峪) in Baode county, Shaanxi. The Chaodaogou culture is roughly contemporary with the fishing and hunting nomadic Baijinbao culture in Heilongjiang.

The Chaodaogou culture is mostly characterized by funerary sites with identical or closely related objects, the grave inventory contains the most characteristic bronze weapons of daggers, knives, and axes, that have greatly contributed to defining the "Northern Zone" as a distinct cultural complex. The grave inventory points to a developed horse husbandry culture, the objects include horse harness, These are a dagger with decorated handle and ram-head pommel, an axe with tubular socket, small rattles and small bells in bronze, knives with arched back and a rattle pommel, knife with a ram-head knob, dagger with grooved hilt and rattle pommel, bronze belt plaques with spiral designs, and bronze ritual vessels.The axes with tubular socket are clearly different from the fan-shaped axe of the Shang, the tubular hafting system is very different from the predominant Shang method of attaching handle to a protruding flat tang, the main characteristic of the tubular hafting system is a tubular socket set perpendicularly to the blade. Tubular axes were excavated at the archeological sites in Hebei and Shanxi provinces, and at Shang sites of the Central Plain, and in eastern LiaoningThe elements of the Chaodaogou bronze culture peculiar to the Northern Zone are present as far as Baikal area, Mongolia, Altai region, South Siberia (Minusinsk river basin), and Tuva, evincing the extraordinary reach of this cultural complex. Excavation of archaeological sites in North China allowed to identify a number of cultures or cultural features located within the Northern Zone complex. In addition to the Chaodaogou culture, they are also characteristic to the Lower Xiajiadian and Baijinbao cultures in the northeast; the Zhukaigou culture, together with mixed Shang and Northern Zone sites, in the north-central sector; and the Qijia, Xindian, and Siwa cultures in the northwestern portion, including the present-day Gansu and Ningxia provinces.

Clovis point

Clovis points are the characteristically-fluted projectile points associated with the New World Clovis culture. They are present in dense concentrations across much of North America; in South America, they are largely restricted to the north of that continent. Clovis points date to the Early Paleoindian period roughly 13,500 to 12,800 calendar years ago. Clovis fluted points are named after the city of Clovis, New Mexico, where examples were first found in 1929 by Ridgely Whiteman.A typical Clovis point is a medium to large lanceolate point. Sides are parallel to convex, and exhibit careful pressure flaking along the blade edge. The broadest area is near the midsection or toward the base. The base is distinctly concave with a characteristic flute or channel flake removed from one or, more commonly, both surfaces of the blade. The lower edges of the blade and base are ground to dull edges for hafting. Clovis points also tend to be thicker than the typically thin later-stage Folsom points. with length ranging from 4 to 20 centimetres (1.6 to 7.9 in) and width from 2.5 to 5 centimetres (0.98 to 1.97 in). Whether the points were knife blades or spear points is an open question.

Cumberland point

A Cumberland point is a lithic projectile point, attached to a spear and used as a hunting tool. These sturdy points were intended for use as thrusting weapons and employed by various mid-Paleo-Indians (c. 11,000 BP) in the Southeastern US in the killing of large game mammals.

Edvard Moser

Edvard Ingjald Moser (pronounced [ɛdvɑɖ moːsɛr]; born 27 April 1962) is a Norwegian psychologist and neuroscientist, who is a professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014 with his then-wife May-Britt Moser and their mentor John O'Keefe for their work identifying the place cells that make up the brain's positioning system. He is an external scientific member of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, with which he has collaborated over several years.Moser was born to German parents who had moved to Norway in the 1950s, and grew up in Ålesund. He studied psychology at the University of Oslo, was appointed as associate professor in psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in 1996 and was promoted to professor of neuroscience in 1998. He later became head of department of the Institute for Systems Neuroscience at NTNU.

Folsom point

Folsom points are a distinct form of knapped stone projectile points associated with the Folsom tradition of North America. The style of tool-making was named after the Folsom Site located in Folsom, New Mexico, where the first sample was found by George McJunkin within the bone structure of a bison in 1908. The Folsom point was identified as a unique style of projectile point in 1926.

Grid cell

A grid cell is a type of neuron in the brains of many species that allows them to understand their position in space.

Grid cells were discovered in 2005 by Edvard Moser, May-Britt Moser and their students Torkel Hafting, Marianne Fyhn and Sturla Molden at the Centre for the Biology of Memory (CBM) in Norway. They were awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine together with John O'Keefe for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain. The arrangement of spatial firing fields, all at equal distances from their neighbors, led to a hypothesis that these cells encode a neural representation of Euclidean space. The discovery also suggested a mechanism for dynamic computation of self-position based on continuously updated information about position and direction.

In a typical experimental study, an electrode capable of recording the activity of an individual neuron is implanted in the cerebral cortex of a rat, in a section called the dorsomedial entorhinal cortex, and recordings are made as the rat moves around freely in an open arena. For a grid cell, if a dot is placed at the location of the rat's head every time the neuron emits an action potential, then as illustrated in the adjoining figure, these dots build up over time to form a set of small clusters, and the clusters form the vertices of a grid of equilateral triangles. This regular triangle-pattern is what distinguishes grid cells from other types of cells that show spatial firing. By contrast, if a place cell from the rat hippocampus is examined in the same way (i.e., by placing a dot at the location of the rat's head whenever the cell emits an action potential), then the dots build up to form small clusters, but frequently there is only one cluster (one "place field") in a given environment, and even when multiple clusters are seen, there is no perceptible regularity in their arrangement.

Grinding slab

In archaeology, a grinding slab is a ground stone artifact generally used to grind plant materials into usable size, though some slabs were used to shape other ground stone artifacts. Some grinding stones are portable; others are not and, in fact, may be part of a stone outcropping.

Grinding slabs used for plant processing typically acted as a coarse surface against which plant materials were ground using a portable hand stone, or mano ("hand" in Spanish). Variant grinding slabs are referred to as metates or querns, and have a ground-out bowl. Like all ground stone artifacts, grinding slabs are made of large-grained materials such as granite, basalt, or similar tool stones.


Haft may refer to:

haft, another name for the hilt of a sword

haft, the shaft of an axe

the narrow constricted part of the standards (petals) and falls (sepals) near the center of the iris flower

Haft, Iran, a village in Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran

Hafting, the process by which an arrowhead or axe blade is set into the wood.

Jack's Reef pentagonal projectile point

Jacks Reef Pentagonal is the name for small (1" to 1 ½"), broad projectiles and specialized knives. They were named by William A. Ritchie based on examples recovered from the Point Peninsula Jack's Reef archaeological site in Onondaga County, New York. The projectiles have mostly been dated to within a few hundred years of 900 AD, in the early era of the Owasco culture.The knives are thin, five-sided points with sharp tips. Jack’s Reef Corner Notched and Jack’s Reef Pentagonal are related and contemporary points, with The Corner Notched points rarer than the Pentagonal ones. The hafting areas are usually contracted, with slightly concave or straight bases. The overall outline of the point is typically pentagonal, with straight sides. The blades were in use during the Late Woodland period. The Jack's Reef Pentagonal points also appear in the Brewerton Complex (Middle Archaic) in a much thicker, cruder, and larger form.

A few smaller but crude examples appear in the Point Peninsula 2 Complex (later Middle Woodland). They were also present in the Intrusive Mound Culture graves, especially at the Mound City Hopewell group in Ross County, Ohio. Blade distribution runs from Missouri to the west, southward to Alabama, and eastward to the coast, then northward through New York and back west through Illinois. Examples have also been found in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Lithic technology

Lithic technology includes a broad array of techniques and styles in archaeology, which are used to produce usable tools from various types of stone. The earliest stone tools were recovered from modern Ethiopia and were dated to between two-million and three-million years old. The archaeological record of lithic technology is divided into three major time periods: the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age), Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age), and Neolithic (New Stone Age). Not all cultures in all parts of the world exhibit the same pattern of lithic technological development, and stone tool technology continues to be used to this day, but these three time periods represent the span of the archaeological record when lithic technology was paramount. By analysing modern stone tool usage within an ethnoarchaeological context insight into the breadth of factors influencing lithic technologies in general may be studied. See: Stone tool. For example, for the Gamo of Southern Ethiopia, political, environmental, and social factors influence the patterns of technology variation in different subgroups of the Gamo culture; through understanding the relationship between these different factors in a modern context, archaeologists can better understand the ways that these factors could have shaped the technological variation that is present in the archaeological record.

May-Britt Moser

May-Britt Moser (born 4 January 1963) is a Norwegian psychologist, neuroscientist, and head of department of the Centre for Neural Computation at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). She and her then-husband, Edvard Moser, shared half of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded for work concerning the grid cells in the entorhinal cortex, as well as several additional space-representing cell types in the same circuit that make up the positioning system in the brain.


A palstave is a type of early bronze axe. It was common in the middle Bronze Age in northern, western and south-western Europe. In the technical sense, although precise definitions differ, an axe is generally deemed to be a palstave if it is hafted by means of a forked wooden handle kept in place with high, cast flanges and stop bar. The axe should be much thicker on the blade side of the stop bar than the hafting side (Schmidt and Burgess 1981, 115). In these respects, it is very close, but distinct from, earlier 'flanged axes'. Palstaves were cast in bivalve moulds made of clay, stone or bronze.

The archaeologist John Evans (1881, 72) popularized the term 'palstave' in English following Danish archaeologists who borrowed the term from Icelandic: paalstab. Confusingly, a paalstab is not an axe, but a digging tool. However, the term had become so common with Scandinavian and German archaeologists that Evans thought it best to follow suit.

Pesse canoe

The Pesse canoe is believed to be the world's oldest known boat, and certainly the oldest known canoe. Carbon dating indicates that the boat was constructed during the early mesolithic period between 8040 BCE and 7510 BCE. It is now in the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands.

Plano point

In archeology, Plano point is flaked stone projectile points and tools created by the various Plano cultures of the North American Great Plains between 9000 BC and 6000 BC for hunting, and possibly to kill other humans.

They are bifacially worked and have been divided into numerous sub-groups based on variations in size, shape and function including Alberta points, Cody points, Frederick points, Eden points and Scottsbluff points. Plano points do not include the hollowing or 'fluting' found in Clovis and Folsom points.

Scraper (archaeology)

In prehistoric archaeology, scrapers are unifacial tools thought to have been used for hideworking and woodworking. Many lithic analysts maintain that the only true scrapers are defined on the base of use-wear, and usually are those that were worked on the distal ends of blades—i.e., "end scrapers" (French: grattoir). Other scrapers include the so-called "side scrapers" or racloirs, which are made on the longest side of a flake, and notched scrapers, which have a cleft on either side that may have been used to attach them to something else.

Scrapers are typically formed by chipping the end of a flake of stone in order to create one sharp side and to keep the rest of the sides dull to facilitate grasping it. Most scrapers are either circle or blade-like in shape. The working edges of scrapers tend to be convex, and many have trimmed and dulled lateral edges to facilitate hafting. One important variety of scraper is the thumbnail scraper, a scraper shaped much like its namesake. This scraper type is common at Paleo-Indian sites in North America. Scrapers are one of the most varied lithic tools found at archaeological sites. Due to the vast array of scrapers there are many typologies that scrapers can fall under, including tool size, tool shape, tool base, the number of working edges, edge angle, edge shape, and many more.

Sibudu Cave

Sibudu Cave is a rock shelter in a sandstone cliff in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is an important Middle Stone Age site occupied, with some gaps, from 77,000 years ago to 38,000 years ago.

Evidence of some of the earliest examples of modern human technology has been found in the shelter (although the earliest known spears date back 400,000 years). The evidence in the shelter includes the earliest bone arrow (61,000 years old), the earliest needle (61,000 years old), the earliest use of heat-treated mixed compound gluing (72,000 years ago), and the earliest example of the use of bedding (77,000 years ago).The use of glues and bedding are of particular interest, because the complexity of their creation and processing has been presented as evidence of continuity between early human cognition and that of modern humans.

Typometry (archaeology)

Typometry in archaeology is the measurement and analysis of artifacts by various methods with metric measurements including length, width, surface area, cutting planes, hafting axis and others. Typometric data is taken along with other criteria including typological, functional, and stylistic criteria, in examination of archaeological finds. The use of computers and mathematics in archaeology, and in particular of automated statistical analysis, have participated in the development of this field. In 1953, Albert Spaulding published the first statistical method for typometry.


In archeology, a uniface is a specific type of stone tool that has been flaked on one surface only. There are two general classes of uniface tools: modified flakes—and formalized tools, which display deliberate, systematic modification of the marginal edges, evidently formed for a specific purpose.

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