“Helgoland flint” Sickle

Sichel aus Helgolandflint

“Roter Feuerstein” (“red flint”) or “Helgoland flint” is occasionally found at the shores of the small archipelago of Helgoland in the North Sea. Helgoland consist of the two small islands of Helgoland and Düne. Red flint is exclusively found at Düne. The red color is caused by iron oxides and hydroxides. In particular larger flint nodules with a red core and a black and white cortex are highly valued since prehistoric times. First indications of its use are from the late Paleolithic (Federmesser and Ahrensburg-complexes). Most examples of the red flint implements are from TRB times and the last artifacts from this flint source are known from the dagger period (http://www.aggsbach.de/2010/09/late-neolithic-flint-dagger/.)

The most famous Helgoland flint find is the red axe rough-out ofthe Eenerveld deposition, found in 1940. Besides a rough-out the deposition contained some nodules, a partially polished and one fully polished flint axe.

About 200 thin butted axes from the early Funnel Beaker Culture (TRB) are known from the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Eastern Europe along the Baltic Sea.  Axes from Helgoland flint from the western TBR-group in the Drenthe region were most probably locally produced, which is supported by the presence of axe production flakes of Helgoland flint in Drenthe.  It is suggested that Helgoland flint was exchanged in the form of nodules instead of finished axes. This forms a clear contrast with the “ordinary” northern rectangular axes, which would have been exchanged as finished tools. In Northern Germany however, axes, daggers and chisels made from Helgoland flint seem also to be exported  as finished artifacts (For example at Nieblum / Föhr).

Helgoland during the Neolithic was an island at least 65 km away from the coast. Even today cruising to this island  may be problematic due to difficult water and strong tides; therefore the seafaring capabilities of Neolithic men earns our full respect.

Suggested reading:

Flint from Heligoland − the exploitation of a unique source of raw-material on the North Sea coast (via academia.edu)



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About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome!

About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University.

Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.

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2 Responses to “Helgoland flint” Sickle

  1. Klaus Hirsch says:

    in 2012 a group of specialists participated in the colloquium “Flint from Heligoland − the exploitation of a unique source of raw-material on the North Sea coast” in Wilhelmshaven. We had the opportunity to have a close look at a lot of the finds. On this occasion we found out that this arrow head is not made of red flint from Heligoland. The material (and the arrowhead) probably comes from North Africa.
    Thousands of stone artifacts are being collected in the Sahara every year and are sold on the net or on fossil and mineral fares. These artifacts are being spread over all of Europe and are beginning to pop up everywhere. They are now starting to turn up in local private collections, that have been donated to museums or are being sold on the net or in auction houses.
    This arrowhead is a dangerous trecherous example, because the type is very common in north Germany and southern Scandinavia. In fact two almost identical arrow heads, made of red Helgolandflint, are known from Schleswig-Holstein and northern Jutland.
    Best regards, KH

  2. Katzman says:

    Thank you Klaus,

    The post has a complicated story. Its first illustration was a neolithic Flint- axe with a reddish patina- but not made from Helgoland Flint– the arrowhead you criticize was of red flint but not from Helgoland. The sickle shown now probably comes from Haderslev Amt. Thanks a lot for critical counter-check !

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