The ground stone components of drills in the ancient Near East: Sockets, flywheels, cobble weights, and drill bits

  • David Ilan Hebrew Union College
Keywords: bow drill, pump drill, crank drill, flywheel, Near East, ground stone tools


Three types of drills are known from antiquity: the bow drill, the pump drill and the crank drill. Each type often included ground stone components - sockets, weights and flywheels. However, these components are inconspicuous; on their own they are almost never associated with drills. The result is that the drill is nearly invisible in many assemblages, particularly those of the proto-historic and historic periods, from the Chalcolithic through to late antiquity. In this article I focus on the identification of the possible ground stone components of each of these drill types. The means by which these components were attached or applied to the drill shaft is examined and the way that they related to the rotary motion of drills is laid out. I briefly discuss the historical development of each type, referencing more detailed studies, where available. This study should be seen as a prelude to a more comprehensive study that will test hypotheses by means of experiment and catalogue more completely and precisely the ground stone components of drills that have been unidentified or misidentified in archaeological contexts.

Author Biography

David Ilan, Hebrew Union College

Hebrew Union College


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How to Cite
Ilan, D. (2016). The ground stone components of drills in the ancient Near East: Sockets, flywheels, cobble weights, and drill bits. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 261-277.
Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research