Sekki (stone tools) (石器)

Sekki refers to a general term for tools manufactured through processing stone materials. It means mainly tools made of stone as an extension of human hands, but does not include such items as stone monuments and gravestones. Sekibo (stone bars) which are believed to have been used for rituals in the Jomon period may be included in sekki in the broad sense.

Sekki may be classified into two main groups depending on the processing methods. One is a group of Dasei-sekki (chipped stone tools) which were formed into a shape usable as a tool by chipping away flakes from a stone by beating it with another stone or a tool. Another group is consisted of Masei-sekki (ground stoneware) which were made up through a grinding process in order to sharpen edges or to be used for ritual purposes.

Dasei-sekki is considered to be the earliest tools used by human beings like Australopithecus according to one theory. Although there are some examples of other animals that use stones as a tool, it is only the human beings who can fabricate tools by processing stones. However, some chimpanzees are reportedly able to do similar things as human beings.

Oldowan stone tool industry is said to be the earliest stone tool industry used by Hominins (or Hominini). Its main items were Choppers and Chopping tools which were produced by beating a part of a pebble. The Oldowan stone tool industries were unearthed at various remains on the east coast of the Lake Turkana in Kenya as well as other remains in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. By the way, these stone tools are presumed to have been sustained by Homo Habilis of Genus Homo or Genus Paranthropus.

Although Masei-sekki was regarded as an indicator of the Neolithic era by John Lubbock, partly-ground stoneware was found to have been actually used in Northwest Europe and West Asia in around 9000 B.C. corresponding to Mesolithic era.

Kinds of sekki
Sekkaku (cores): Stone materials remained after manufacturing sekki

Hakuhen (flakes): Fragments separated when manufacturing sekki

Sekijin (stone blades), Blades: Characteristic materials for stone tools in the late Paleolithic Period
A lot of sekijin were produced out of sekkaku and were processed into sekki.

Sekkaku Sekki (core tool):
Hakuhen Sekki (flake tool):
Rekki (pebble tool): One of the most primitive stone tools

Choppers: A kind of pebble tool having an edge formed by beating one side of a pebble for several times
It is also called Kataha no Rekki (Pebble Tool with a single edge). The angle of cross section of the chopper was measured mostly between 20 to 30 degrees.

Chopping tool: A kind of pebble tool having a zig-zag edge formed by exfoliating a part of a pebble by beating it from both sides

Akufu (ax with handgrip), Nigiri-tsuchi (hammer with handgrip), Hand Axe: A kind of stone tool having edges formed by beating a whole part of a pebble from both sides
Many of their upper ends were pointed in such shapes as of so called tongue, ficron, spearhead or Micoquien, egg, heart, almond and so on.

Sentoki (points): A kind of stone tools with a sharp point
They were supposedly attached to spear heads. Their typical shape was long, thin and sharply-pointed, but there were many other shapes, too. They are also called ishi-yari (stone spears).

Sakki (chippers), Scrapers: A kind of stone tools equipped with a blade formed by chipping away the top of a flake, according to F. Bordes

Soki (scrapers), Tansakki (end-chippers), End scrapers:
Sakki (chippers), Sokusakki (side-chippers), Side scrapers:
Choki (gravers), Kokki (gravers), Gravers, (Burin) (French):
Backed Blades:
Sekisui (drill): A kind of stone tools with a pointed end like a stone drill
It seems to have been used to drill a hole in hides or else.

Naifu-gata Sekki (knife blade): A kind of stone tools developed from sekijin

Notch, Ketsunyu-sekki (notched tool):
Saisekki (microlith):
Ishisaji (stone spoon): Designed for portability, an unique stone tool developed in Japan

Sekifu (stone axe):
Kyokubu-masei-sekifu (partly-ground stone axe):
Ishibera (stone paddle):
Sekizoku (flint arrowhead):
Sekizoku Sekisen (variation of flint arrowheads):
Suri-ishi (mill stone):
Kubomi-ishi (concave stone):
Ishizara (stone plate):

Stone materials

Typical stone materials used in Japan in the Paleolithic Period were obsidian, shale, Sanukite (Sanuki-gan stone) and others.

Hokkaido region: Obsidian is produced in Shirataki, Engaru-cho in the east of Hokkaido and in Akaishikawa in the west of Hokkaido.

Tohoku region: Production areas of hard shale are widely spread throughout the Tohoku region.

Kanto region: Obsidian is produced in Kozu-shima Island in the offshore of the Pacific Ocean. Chubu region: Obsidian is produced in the Wada-toge Pass (Nagano Prefecture) in the central highlands region.

Kinki, Chugoku and Shikoku regions: Sanukite is produced in the Mt. Nijo in Nara Prefecture (Nara Prefecture and Osaka Prefecture), Goshikidai mountain range in Kagawa Prefecture as well as Mt. Kana, Sanuki City in Kagawa Prefecture.

[Original Japanese]