Biography of Are Tsirk (1937-2015): Flintknapper and scholar

  • Steve Adams Independent researcher
Keywords: Are Tsirk, biography, flintknapper, fractography


Are Tsirk was as much a scholar as he was a flintknapper. These disciplines were intertwined and expressed in his experimental research, by way of his exploration of fractography, and his replication of stone tools which spanned the archaeological record of several continents.

Author Biography

Steve Adams, Independent researcher
468 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601


Publications (by year):
Tsirk, A. 1979, Regarding fracture initiations. In: Lithic use-wear analysis (Hayden, B., Ed.) Studies in Archaeology, Academic Press, New York: p. 83-96.
Tsirk, A. 1981, On a geometrical effect on crack front configuration. International Journal of Fracture, 17(6): R185-R188. (in English) doi:10.1007/BF00681566
Tsirk, A. 1988, Formation and Utility of a Class of Anomalous Wallner Lines on Obsidian. In: Fractography of glasses and ceramics (Frechette, V.D. & Varner, J.R., Eds.) Advances in ceramics Vol. 22, American Ceramic Society, Westerville, Ohio: p. 57-69.
Tsirk, A. 1989, On Flaw Characteristics, Environmental Factors and Fracture Markings Related to Obsidian Flaking. In: La Obsidiana en Mesoamérica (Gaxiola, M. & Clark, J.E., Eds.) Serie Arqueología; Colección Científica Vol. 178 Vol. 176, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (Mexico), Mexico City: p. 137-146.
Tsirk, A. 1995, Hackles revisited. In: Fractography of glasses and ceramics III Vol. 64 (Varner, J.R. & Frechette, V.D., Eds.) Ceramic Transactions Vol. 64, American Ceramic Society, Westerville, Ohio: p. 447-472.
Tsirk, A. 1998, Kivitootlemine Lohestustehnikas. Ajalooline Ajakiri. The Estonian Historical Journal, 4(103): 5-14. (in Estonian) ("Percussion stoneworking")
Tsirk, A. & Parry, W.J. 2000, Fractographic Evidence for Liquid on Obsidian Tools. Journal of Archaeological Science, 27(11): 987-991. doi:10.1006/jasc.1999.0508
Tsirk, A. 2001, An Exploration of Liquid-Induced Fracture Markings. In: Fractography of glasses and ceramics IV (Varner, J.R. & D. Quinn, G., Eds.) Ceramic transactions Vol. 122, American Ceramic Society, Westerville, Ohio: p. 87-104.
Tsirk, A. 2005, Obsidian fractures from a forest fire zone in Santa Fe National Forest (Report No. 020607). In: The Dome Fire obsidian study: Investigationg the interaction of heat, hydration, and glass geochemistry (Steffen, A., Ed.) Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico: p. 278-325.
Tsirk, A. 2007, Liquid-induced fracture markings: An overview. In: Fractography of glasses and ceramics V (Varner, J.R., Quinn, G.D. & Wightman, M., Eds.) Ceramic Transactions Vol. 199, Wiley-Interscience, Hoboken: p. 79-91. doi:10.1002/9781118144152.ch8
Tsirk, A. 2009a, A Knapping Dilemma with Transverse Blade Breakage. Lithic Technology, 34(2): 111-118.
Tsirk, A. 2009b, Notes on a Fractography Guide. Lithic Technology, 34(1): 3-6.
Tsirk, A. 2010a, Fracture markings from flake splitting. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(8): 2061-2065. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2010.03.011
Tsirk, A. 2010b, Popouts and Related Fractures. Lithic Technology, 35(2): 1049-1070.
Tsirk, A. 2012, Fractography lessons from knapping. In: Fractography of glasses and ceramics VI (Varner, J.R. & Wightman, M., Eds.) Ceramic transactions Vol. 230, Wiley, Hoboken: p. 123-132. doi:10.1002/9781118433010.ch9
Tsirk, A. 2014, Fractures in knapping. Archaeopress, Oxford, 261 p.

Presentations and Reports:
1974 “Continuum Mechanics and Flaking: Some Comments and Questions”, Symposium on Primitive Technology and Art, University of Calgary.
1974 “Mechanics and the Study of Prehistoric Stone Tools”, NY Academy of Science (Joint Anthropology and Engineering Sections).
1986 “Fractography in Flintworking: an illustrated discussion of the formation and utility of fracture markings on obsidian”, Columbia University.
1996 “Fractures in Knapping”, Columbia University.
1997 “On Flintknapping”, Report and lecture notes on presentations at University of Tartu. March 1997.
2002 “Fractographic Evidence for Liquid on Aztec Blades from Otumba: An Exploratory Investigation”, Report No.020213, February 20, 2002.
2003 “Liquid-Induced Fracture Markings (LIFMs): Examples and Notes”, For use in a course on Fracture Analysis of Glasses and Ceramics at Alfred University, October 15, 2003.
2012 “Knapping Lessons from Fractography Using Normanskill Chert”, 96th Annual Conference of the New York State Archaeological Association, April 27-29, 2012. Abstracts volume, p. 15-16.

Additional references cited in the text
Bordes, F. 1968, The old stone age. World University Library. McGraw-Hill, New York, 255 p.
Quinn, G.D. 2007, NIST Recommended Practice Guide: Fractography of Ceramics and Glasses. NIST Special Publication 960-16. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Washington, D.C., 546 p. URL:
How to Cite
Adams, S. (2015). Biography of Are Tsirk (1937-2015): Flintknapper and scholar. Journal of Lithic Studies, 2(1), 133-141.