Stone's Archaeology Pages

This website is dedicated to the nomenclature and studies pertaining to the evaluation and cataloguing of Native American Indian Artifacts.
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For us to reach a coherent understanding of the past, interpretive syntheses of the findings from many disciplines of science are required. Some of the disciplines applied to the field of archaeology, just to name a few, are Geology, Archaeo-astronomy, Dendrochronology, Palynology, Social and Physical Anthropology, Nuclear Physics, Drafting, Computer Sciences, Photography, Radiology, Forensic Medicine…..the list goes on.


How we perceive and interpret 'the facts’ is of critical importance in reaching our goals of understanding. It is largely assumed that prejudice has been eliminated from our society, that there are no social wrongs yet perpetrated against anyone, regardless of race, creed color or religion. Yet prejudice does exist--and we perceive other cultures and peoples through these malformations of human character, coming to terms of understanding weighted by them. We must confront, and deal with, our own prejudices, and endeavor to place people before objects and objectives in our search for the truth.
Social anthropology, like charity, should begin at home.



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Points, Knives, and Flaking Patterns: their Diagnostic Relationships regards determining Age/Period of Manufacture

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In the first example, a Palmer Corner-Notch Point, pressure-retouch has been used to finish shaping, thinning and serrating the blade. Note the flaking pattern runs diagonally from top left to bottom right, and in several scars, the flake ran almost entirely across the blade’s face. This style, called Transverse Oblique Flaking, is most often started from a high point on the left edge of the blade.

A Greenbrier-Dalton variant, this specimen exhibits flaking of the same style as above, but running in the opposite direction.This trait is generally considered rare in Early Archaic typologies, but is found with greater frequency in some Late Archaic typologies. Close examination of the surface reveals that the intent and practice of Oblique Transverse Flaking was carried out, but neither the material, nor the scars left upon it, convey this well. The maker was interested in (1) following tradition, and (2), making a functional point. Note too, the thinning flute at this point’s base. Greenbrier points seldom display fine Transverse Oblique Flaking, they are, however, pressure retouched bi-facially along the entire edge of each face.

The third example, an Eden Point of the Cody Complex, exhibits a slightly different pattern of flaking. Called Collateral Flaking, the flakes taken from along one edge were lined up, roughly, with flakes taken from the opposite edge. The flake-scars meet at the center of the blade, producing a Median Ridge. Eden Points usually display a Lenticular Cross Section and a Median Ridge, though some are known to have been produced by Horazontal Transverse and even Random Flaking--these types would be Bi-Convex in section. The stem-edges are inset, almost imperceptably, from the blade edges--the result of heavy grinding.

This fine specimen, a Cumberland Point from Sullivan County, TN, exhibits traits similar to the Eden above. Collateral Pressure Flaking and Median Ridge evident, with scars running to the center of the blade, a Lenticular Cross Section would have been apparent, had the opposite face not been fluted to the tip. Notice the Secondary Pressure Retouch along the blade-edges--especially the small triangular flakes removed at the junction of any two larger flake-scars. This procedure served to even the blade’s edges. Grinding of the lateral edges extendes to just above the termination of the Flute Scar.

The example shown here, an unidentified Lanceolate, displays Selective Flaking--there being nothing random about the flaking's execution, accomplished with a Billet of wood, antler or bone. Note the pressure retouch-- much less frequent than in previous examples, and only just enough to even out the edges. This is a good example of a blade produced largely with only Direct Percussion. The base is heavily ground, but there is no evidence of such treatment to the lower edges of the piece…

A superb specimen is this, an Eva Blade, from the Early Archaic Period. This example displays Selective Pressure Flaking; the thinness of the blade is due to the removal of long transverse flakes which run, in some cases, all the way across the face of the blade. In this Early-Eva Period Blade, the execution of close, evenly spaced flake-scars is a prime example of Paleo/Early Archaic Pressure Flaking and Retouch. The styles of flaking exhibited by several examples, from a range of dates within the typology, serve to illustrate the evolution of flaking trends/techniques: The progression away from precision shaping of the whole blade via Selective/Transverse Pressure Flaking, to the later technique of Resolved/Flat-Flaking executed by Direct Percussion, to Random Direct Percussion with Secondary Pressure Retouch as needed. The Secondary Retouch in later examples was limited to minor shaping/finishing of the edges, and resharpening.

The two Late-Paleo Period specimens shown here, a Scottsbluff/Early Stemmed, and an Agate Basin, both display Collateral Pressure Flaking. A flake removed from one side of the face is paired with the removal of another from its opposite side/same face.
In the Scottsbluff example, thin ribbon-like flakes were removed, and small triangular flakes, removed from between the junction of primary flake-scars, smooth and even out the edge.

The Collateral Flaking displayed by this Agate Basin Blade is of rare kind; five sets or pairs of broad, thin flakes were removed, via Pressure Flaking, to half-way across the blade, creating the Median Ridge. The removal of ribbon-like flakes from between each of these left the blade's edges straight and sharp. This example has shallow, short, Basal-Thinning flakes removed from each side. One face clearly shows the remnants of thinning flake scars executed at earlier stages of its making; evident are 6 distinguishable individual flake-scars--three of which ended in a stepped fracture, and one at least in a hinge fracture. These flake scars are all rather small, and in the overlap of scars there may be more read into them than is in actual evidence...

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“Paleo and Early Archaic Flaking” becomes more evident as a significant diagnostic trait once one begins to recognize the patterns, and the techniques applied to achieve them. The Pressure Flaking used to shape and finish Paleo/Early Archaic Period blades often produced one or more of these particular traits: a diamond-shaped or *Lenticular cross-section, a **Rhomboidal cross-section, even spacing of flake-scars across the face/s of the blade, a deliberately patterned removal of flakes, consistency of flake-scar length/width ratios. Later period typologies seldom exhibit this precision and symmetry.

*Only a relative few Paleo/Early Archaic points hold this trait as significant to their typology, an uncommon trait that is seldom well-executed in later periods.
**A Rhomboidal cross-section is produced by Beveling, a significant trait of several Early Archaic Period typologies.

Late Archaic and Woodland Period Peoples, with a Hammerstone, or a Billet of Wood or Antler, Direct Percussion-knapped large and ornate blades from the best of materials, employing Pressure Retouch only to ‘clean up’ the overall form, and sharpen the blade to a useful edge. This is basically a reversal of the procedure held in practice by earlier peoples. Traits common to this technique are the removal of flakes which vary greatly in length and width, and are not paired with any other flakes removed; scars can run in different directions, too--the purpose being to thin the point down to a useful dimension. More commonly, a combination of Direct Percussion and Pressure Flaking were employed to manufacture any given blade—the degree, and consistency with which the final shaping and sharpening is done by Pressure Flaking will often tell the age of a piece.

. Distinguishing Pressure Flaking as a Diagnostic Typological Trait of Paleo and Early Archaic Points from the more casual Random Resharpening begins with close observations of the repetitive consistency with which the flaking is executed. Late Archaic and Woodland Period flaking tends to be less ordered and precise; the piece’s geometry/symmetry of design—both form and flaking—will be less…rhythmic. With many Late Archaic/Woodland points is evident (in the flaking…) the persuasive argument that the size of the Spalls removed during resharpening, their random placement, and the shallow nature of the flakes themselves indicates that Direct Percussion, lightly applied, can have been used to renew the working edge. This scenario is appealing in the realm of imagining an ancient hunter knapping a new edge to his knife with a handy rock, then settling back into fleshing and dressing his kill.
In some examples of later typologies, Direct Percussion Flaking is so well controlled as to simulate the appearance of Collateral/Horizontal Flaking. By the same token, a point may be entirely finished via Pressure Flaking and Retouch—no method of Direct Percussion having been applied at all. One of the more commented upon phenomenon found in comparing points is that the Transverse-Oblique flaking of the Early Archaic runs(generally) from high left side to low right; flaking in the opposite direction is more frequently noted among Late Archaic points. Comparing and contrasting the attributes of points known to be from the Paleo-Early Archaic periods with Late Archaic and Woodland points is a must—the differences will open your eyes!

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In this example, a Savannah River variant, you can see the general lack of Pressure Flaked Retouch; the exceptions to this generalization may be seen in the minute retouch given the left side of the blade-edge, and some retouch is also visible at the sides of the stem. Direct Percussion shaped the whole of the blade’s surfaces; it is suggested that the removal of such large, thin flakes required a ‘Soft’ Direct Percussion tool—a Wooden or Antler Billet. ‘Soft’ Percussive Tools offered greater control, which explains the delicate nature of some blades which are made from very hard-to-work materials—like the quartzite used in this example.

This Early Archaic piece, a MacCorckle/Nottoway River blade, exhibits a bold nature in its Collateral Flaked blade, a rare trait in this type; more often, the serrations are rather finely done via removal of small, ribbon-like flakes, the blade itself usually exhibiting random-flaking. This blade’s reverse-side flaking is less well defined, yet traces of the style are evident.

The point shown here, possibly a Tennessee River (pre-form?) Variant, evidences only a minor degree of Pressure Flaked Retouch, primarily to straighten the blade-edge. While the form’s resemblance to an Un-fluted Clovis is strong, and with base/hafting areas ground to just over 1/3 of the length, the Direct Percussion Flaking and retouch in no way confirms the ‘Clovis theory’ of its origins.

This point, a Palmer Corner Notch made from Rhyolite, exhibits a blade dressed out via direct percussion, and only finished with serrated edges via pressure retouch. The material is a fine-grained quartzite--it flaked well, but does not reveal much detail in the photo... This point is a good example of a flaking-style somewhat contrasting the typology’s ‘general’ norm. Basal grinding and serrations, plus the rather fine corner notching, is Diagnostic of the Early Archaic Period.

This Late Archaic Knife, a Savannah River Variant, displays the quality achieved with Random Direct Percussion Flaking very well; The quartzites used were not easily worked. Evident is the minute degree of Pressure Retouch used to put an edge on the blade. Under normal usage, such application would provide for a long blade-life. If major breakage were to occur, the direct percussion approach to reshaping the blade-remnant would be applied. Note the size of some of the flake-scars; these ‘guys’ had their technique down pat, and exploited it to the fullest.

This Hopewell Blade displays some of the expert control found in Direct Percussion-made blades. It appears that some of the ribbon-like flake scars are actually overlapped by further percussion scars. Note the base is flaked with a little of both Direct Percussion and Pressure Retouch, while the stem-edges are more carefully finished. The fine shape of this blade is clear evidence of the skills employed, and the pleasing aesthetics desired.

This Osceola Blade, an Early Archaic point, is extensively worked over by Pressure Retouch. The body of the blade was first shaped via Direct Percussion. Extensive retouch along all blade-edges, as well as inside the notches at the shoulders and tops of the stem-ears, finished the work on this one. In this example, you can see how Pressure Retouch comprises more of the surface treatment of the blade than is seen in many later typologies.

The example shown here, a personal find, is one which I had originally thought to display Clovis-like traits; I even notified Mike Johnson, who oversees the Virginia Fluted Point Survey, of this find. After a thorough examination, he concluded that what I had was a Jacks Reef Pentagonal. Basal grinding is evident, though not to the extent one finds in fluted points. The point is also ‘Uniface’-- the reverse face is unworked except around the edges, and it is made on a flake. This is a classic trait of the Jacks Reef cultural tradition. What is also in evidence is the typical Pressure Flaked-only edges, notches, and basal region; no Direct Percussion here at all...


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Sites You Need To See!

Page 3 Stone's Archaeology Pages
>>>>>Mobjack Bay Relics<<<<<
The Lithics Site
Anthropology in the News
Native Tech—Studies and Sources Concerning Ancient Technologies
American Indian Ritual Object Repatriation Foundation
NAGPRA Resources
Virginia Foundation for Archaeological Research, Inc.
Ethnic Cleansing?
Repatriation and Reburial, by Larry Zimmerman
Hopewell Lunar Astronomy: The Octagon Earthworks