Seeking a long lost knwoledge
When not perpetrating new pages on Bernard's site or botching up flint nuclei and axes, Cayoo (also known as Stéphane) is training networks/systems administrators...yet always carrying in his pocket a tiny genuine mousterian biface and a tiny replica of a neolithic axe around his neck.
Like most kids he was very fond of Prehistory, memorizing dinosaurs' names, playing caveman in the wild, (unsuccessfully) knapping miscellaneous stones.
Growing up, he was convinced that flintknapping was a lost craft that he would never master... Until that enlightening day when he saw, on TV, close-ups of modern hands shaping disks from bones, knapping borers, recreating prehistoric pendants.... those hands were even able to knap bifaces!!!!!! what a revelation!!!! From that day on, Cayoo set out to look for flintknappers...but there are not thick on the ground, especially in Anjou during the late 80's!
"When the student is ready, the master appears"
Many years later, he landed in Bordeaux and became an IT teacher. Dordogne was so close that he rushed to Les Eyzies (France's most famous prehistoric area) and there, out of the blue, in a small workshop he discovered a flintknapper that was chipping blades, bifaces and tools with astonishing speed and accuracy. PALAIOS
was the name of Bernard GINELLI's workshop. Second REVELATION, in 1999.
Cayoo immediately filled in the form for the next knapping workshop and ended up, in the middle of this first winter of the new millenium, next to a prehistoric shelter, knapping flint with Bernard a whole week long. Years had passed since childhood games, but he was still playing prehistoric man in the wild. This experience opened his eyes to a brand new vision of the old timers that he wasn't aware of: "Those men have invented and tramsmitted this knowledge and complex techniques over centuries... they certainly weren't as brutal and stupid as often depicted."
Life is full of surprises and thanks to them and Bernard, Cayoo was actually living his childhood dream: knapping flint ! Oh for sure, his first attemps were mere distasters, his bifaces looked like oysters, but even though he was knapping extra-small cores of a pityfull quality flint with an over-twisted busk antler in his flat, with time passing by, he could improve.
First bifaces that actualy looked like bifaces, first blades, getting longer and longer, first arrow points (flaked with a steel screwdriver because he just couldn't find any copper rods)....
But why stop here ? There are so many techniques he didn't even know and so many he knew but couldn't master. So, twice a year, Cayoo would take his wanderer's stick and pay a few hours visit to Bernard. There he litterally fired his questions up, drowning Bernard under the flood of six months of questions. Luckily for Cayoo, Bernard showed good will in teaching and answering those one-dime questions... Maybe Cayoo's pitifull results inspired him with compassion ? With the passing years, the Master / Disciple relationship became what it is today: a deep and sincere friendship.
The web site
Convinced that the one who said "Knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied" was definitely right, Cayoo was really sorry to see how few french archaeologists shared this feeling. So, in 2005 he decided to build up a web site that would put together his two main passions: knowledge sharing and flint knapping... problem was he had very little to share... but Bernard had so much !
It will take a whole year for this idea of a web site to come true, because if Cayoo is an auto-ignition turbo engine, Bernard is a diesel that needs a loooong warm up.
On june 6th, 2006 the first version of the web site is finally online (666 is really casual). It aims at two targets: allowing Bernard to sell his creations over the Internet and allowing the public to take profit of Bernard's encyclopaedia-like knowledge about flint knapping.
It looks like a dream, and no one really believes it will work. Cayoo is not a webmaster and has never learned the ropes of building internet sites, Bernard thinks that computers hate him and are unpredictable tools: the game may be lost before it even started, but who knows how far a blind man carrying one who limps could go ?
Grow or dissapear
One year after, the web site features more than 500 pages, thousands of pictures, 3 hours of videos, attracts a hundred visitors a day, coming from over 20 countries and draws learners to knap-ins from every corner of Europe.
The second year will be the year od the DVDs. Though is knows nothing about video, Cayoo buys a digital camera so he can record Bernard's work.
Within 8 months, two "movies" are made "La Taille Du Silex Volume 1" (FLINTKNAPPING Volume 1, stating there should be a sequel...) et "Couteaux Néolithiques: du bloc de silex au fil de la lame" (Neolithic knives: from block to blade).
DVD La Taille Du Silex Vol.1
Lasting 81 minutes, this first part details the operating chains of the following tools:
- Mousterian biface
- Dihedral burin
- Livre de beurre (Chalcolithic core blade)
- Laurel leaf (broken)
More about this DVD
DVD Couteaux Néolithiques
Unveils for two hours the secrets of two extraordinary knives types:
- Chalcolithic daggers
- Charavines knives
Each production step is closely filmed, detailled and commented by the flint knapper.
More about this DVD
And meanwhile the web site was getting bigger and bigger !
The website grew like a muscle on steroids and it became urgent to rebuild it totaly so it stopped looking as messy as a teenager's bedroom and became easily manageable. Work began on fall of 2008... and will probably never end.
What next ? Bernard and Cayoo have tons of projects, some of them are pure utopy, others may come true, one day.
Because it allowed children fascinated by prehistory to see their dream come true knapping bifaces, because knives collectors discovered a craftsman that was making stone blades, this adventure on the Internet was not vain, and though it took thousands of hours of spare time, it was a huge pleasure, all the way long: sharing one's passion with others is a rare luxury.
Hope it goes on.