Definition and Terms
Any pictures you see can be clicked on and enlarged for a closer look. All pictures are from Jim Cherry's collection unless otherwise noted.
Adz: A woodworking tool used by the indians.
Archaic: Dates differ for the period in different parts of the country but generally from 10000 to 3000 years ago. This was the prehistoric hunter/gatherer society. This period falls between Paleo and Woodland.
Atl atl: The weapon most used by the indians up until the introduction of the bow and arrow. The atl atl was used from paleo to woodland times (12000-3000BP).
Arrowhead: A general term used to describe all chipped indian artifacts with a triangular form. True arrowheads, or bow propelled, were not actually used until the woodland period.
Asymetrical: A term used to describe a point that is not the same form on both sides. A corner tang is a good example.
Authentic: A point or artifact that was made by an American Indian before modern times. An old or original artifact, not a copy or rework by modern knappers.
Axe: Also called grooved axe, celt, or polished celt. Some think it was really used as a digging tool. (picture courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Banner stone: A polished stone with a hole in it probably used as a weight on an atl atl.
Barb: A shoulder that protrudes and forms a point. Usually on stemmed points.
Basal: The bottom of a point or blade.
Basal grinding or smoothing: The edge around the hafting area has been ground so that it would not cut the hafting.
Basal notch: Notches in the bottom of the point or blade to help hold hafting.
Basal thinning: Thinning flakes on the bottom of the point or blade, chipped on both sides, used to make point thinner and hafting easier to attach.
Base: The very bottom of a point or blade.
Beads: Ornaments used by the indians for neckalaces. Can be made out of a variety of materials. Clay, shell, stone, animal teeth, or bone.
Bevel: Point or blade edge that has been re-sharpened to form a slope or angle.
Bi facial: A chipped artifact that has been worked on both sides or faces.
Bifurcated: A stem on a point that has been split forming two seperate lobes.
Birdpoint: A term used to describe very small points. These are the true arrowheads. Many people believed that they were used to shoot birds because of the small size. Now this is not believed to be true. These small arrowheads have been found in bodies of indians dug up on archaeological digs, indicating that they were used in war. The triangular points are also called war points in some areas.
Birdstone: A polished stone in the shape of a bird. May have been used like a bannerstone. It is not known what the birdstones were used for.
Blade: A chipped artifact used as a knife or a term to refer to the area between the tip and the base of a point.
Blank: An artifact that has been partially finished.
Blunt: A point that has been broken and reworked into a blunt tip form. Many people believed that a blunt was used for stunning small game but most show signs of being used as hafted scrapers.
Boatstone: Probably used as an amulet.
Bola: A string or set of strings with weights on the ends, thrown at birds or small game to bring them down.
Bone awl: Used for punching holes and sewing. Usually made from turkey or small animal bones.
BP: Before present. 2000BP would be 2000 years ago.
Cache: A group of points, blades, or preforms found in underground deposits.
Celt: A polished chipped or ground tool used for chopping or digging. There is much argument about the use of celts. Some people think that celts are ungrooved axes while others think that celts are digging tools. (picture courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Ceremonial: An object made extremely well, overly large, and made of rare materials. Object shows little or no wear from use.
Chert: A flintlike quartz material that we mistakenly call "flint". Chert is an impure form of flint and the most commonly used material for the production of projectile points.
Chisel: A woodworking tool.
Classic: A term used to describe a point that is a perfect example of its type.
Collateral: A flaking style by which the flakes were taken off each side forming a ridge in the center of the point.
Contracting: Term used to describe the base of a point that gets smaller from the top to the bottom.
Core: The remainder of the chert nodule from which flakes were struck off in order to make projectile points. See spall.
Corner Notched: Notches put into the corners of the base area.
Damage: A point with missing pieces. Can be done by modern farm machinery or by the indian from use. See impact fracture.
Discoidal: A Round polished stone with a dish on one or both sides, thought to have been used in a game called "chunkey".
Distal end: The tip of a point.
Dover chert: One of the most popular cherts used by many different indians through many different time periods.
Drill: Chipped artifacts used to drill holes in various items.
Duck River Cache: The largest collection of cerimonial flint objects found to date.
Ears: Also refered to as barbs.
Eccentrics: Chipped objects that form no specific shape or purpose.
Effigy: Chipped artifacts made into various human or animal forms. Also refers to pottery made into various human or animal forms.
E-notch: Such as on some big sandy points, the side notches form an "E". Also refered to as a key-notch.
Expanding: Term to describe the base of a point that gets larger from the top to the bottom.
Face: The area between the tip and the base.
Fake: A modern reproduction that is passed off as an authentic piece.
Flint: A black to brown quartz associated with chalk and limestone and found in nodules.
Flute: A long channel that has been chipped from an artifact that starts from the base and ends up to the tip. Usually on both sides of the point. Technique used by the paleo peoples.
Gem quality: A point made out of semi-precious material.
Gorget: A polished stone pendant with drilled holes used to protect the neck or for ornamental purposes. Picture shows half a gorget.
Gouge: A woodworking tool.
Graver: A uniface artifact with sharp projections used for puncturing or "tatooing" as some people think.
Grooved Axe: A grooved version of a celt. The groove was used for hafting. (picture courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Haft or hafting: The base of a point that was fastened to a shaft or handle. Also used to describe the material used to hold the point on to the shaft or the handle.
Hammerstone: A stone tool used for hammering purposes. Tool is wore in places where it was held forming a perfect fit if held.
Heat treat: Heat treating was used by the early indians to improve the workability of some hard cherts. The material was buried in the dirt and a fire built over it in order to heat up the chert.
Hinge fracture: A flake that terminated abruptly leaving a step or hinge.
Historic: The time period in which the whites came in contact with the indians. Generally around 1500 to 1600AD. Follows the Mississippian time period.
Hoe: A tool used for farming. Some of these artifacts show a heavy polish from use. Also called spade. (picture courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Horizontal transverse: A flaking style in which parallel flakes are removed from one side and extend to the other side of the point.
Impact fracture: Usually found on the tip where the point was shot or thrown at an object.
Indian: Refering to the American Indian. A people thought to have originated from Asia some 30,000 years ago.
Key notch: Also called "E-notch".
Knife: A point or blade thought to have been used as a knife. Usually large in size.
Lanceolate: A long, narrow point.
Lobe: The base of a point that is round in two regions. Take a look at the picture. Note the base. (pictures courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Local material: Material found in a local region or area used by the indians.
Mississippian: Time period between Woodland and Historic. (1300 to 400 years ago)
Mortar: A bowl used to grind grain or other objects. A pestle is used with a mortar. (picture courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Museum quality: An artifact in perfect shape and form.
Named: Points that are identified and given a class name.
Nodule: A large piece of flint or chert that is found in limestone or chalk.
Notch: Area around the base that is chipped , leaving an indentation for hafting.
Notched hoe: A stone or flint made hoe with notches for hafting.
Nutting Stone: A small stone used to crack nuts or seeds.
Oblique Transverse: A flaking style in which angled parrallel flakes are chipped from one side and extend to the other side of the point or blade.
Obsidian: A black to brown glassy volcanic rock. Very easy to chip and very sharp. Mainly used in the western USA.
Paleo: The earliest time period from 8000 to 12,000 years ago and beyond.
Patina: A discoloration and wear due to age.
Pendant: Any object chipped or polished for ornamental use. Most have holes drilled into them for hanging around the neck. (picture courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Percussion flaking: Chipping method used by the American Indians and modern knappers of today. Chert is formed into a projectile point using rocks or antler tools by hitting or striking the edge.
Perforator: A point or chipped artifact that has been resharpened into a fine point used for punching holes or incising purposes.
Pestle: The grinding stone used with a mortar. Used for grinding grain or other objects. (picture courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Petroglyph: Any drawings left on rocks, or cave walls, by early man.
Pipe: Used to smoke many different substances. Most were made of clay or stone. (picture courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Plummet: Many people think that these stones were used for fishing, while others think that they were used as bola weights.
Polished: Many tools were polised from use. Celts, axes, hoes, chisels, spades, and others were polished from constant use from digging or chopping. The top fragment of a flint celt is not polished. The bottom flint celt fragment is heavily polished from use.
Potlid: Pits in points showing that it was in a fire.
Pottery: Any vessel or effegy made out of clay and or shell mix to hold water, food, objects, or cook in.
Pottery ball: A clay ball about the size of a golf ball, probably heated then dropped in a pot of water in order to heat the water.
Pottery shard: A broken piece of pottery.
Preform: A rough shaped point, in early stages of development.
Pressure flaking: Flaking of the edge of a point or blade done by direct pressure. Usually done in the final stages of point manufacture.
Projectile: Anything that is shot or thrown through the air.
Reproduction: A copy of an ancient artifact.
Resharpened: Rechipping of a dull from use point or blade in order to increase sharpness. Many beveled blades are from resharpening.
Restoration: The replacing or fixing of a broken artifact in order to make it look whole again.
Rework: Any artifact that was chipped in order to repair damage, either by the indians or by modern knapping.
Scraper: A tool used to scrape hides. Could be bifacial or unifacial.
Serrated: A saw like edge on a point or blade.
Shoulder: The area that the blade ends and the stem begins.
Side notch: A notch on the sides of a point.
Spade: A tool used for farming. Some of these artifacts show a heavy polish from use. Also called hoe. (picture courtesy of Chuck Rich)
Spall: A chunk of flint that flakes are struck off of to create points. When flakes are struck off the spall it forms a cone. This is called a core.
Spatulate (spud): Thought to be a variation of a celt.
Spear point: Refers to most long points. Were most likely knives instead of spear points.
Stem: The protruding part of the base. Used for hafting.
Stunner: Also called a blunt.
Surface find: Any artifact picked up on the top of the ground.
Symmetrical: A point with both sides the same.
Thumb scraper: A small unifaced scraper about the size of a thumbnail. Used to scrape hides or other objects. Found on Mississippian sites.
Tip: The pointed end of a point or blade.
Transitional: A time between two time periods such as the paleo/archaic transition.
Translucent: A material that allows light to pass through it.
Typology: The study of point types.
Type point: A chipped artifact that can easily be identified.
Unfluted: A term used to describe an unfluted version of a point that is usually fluted.
Uniface: A chipped or worked artifact on one side only.
War point: The old belief that all small triangular points were used in war.
Water worn: Any point or artifact found in water is usually worn by sand and water.
Willow leaf: An ovoid shaped blade in the form of a willow leaf.
Wing: See barb.
Woodland: The time period after Archaic but before Mississippian. (Approxomate date is 3000 to 1300 years ago)
If you would like me to add something to the terms or definitions list please email me.