Sunday, March 04, 2012

More broken quartz

I set aside a lot of time this weekend to search for artifacts in some old and new places. I am thrilled to find any kind of artifact but projectile points that are damaged, made of quartz, and triangular make up the bulk of everything I have found. My goal this weekend was to find something that was not one of these things, that is to say either unbroken, not a triangle, or not made of quartz.
Some people to whom I have shown photos of my finds comment that I must be missing stuff out there because quartz makes up the vast preponderance of what I have found. There is no doubt that quartz artifacts are easier to spot on the ground than tools made from most other materials. I believe that the culture that made the artifacts I find used quartz a great deal more than people who lived in other areas at other times, and I do not think I am missing artifacts of other materials any more than quartz stuff (no doubt, I do not spot everything). But I have been making a concerted effort to focus on looking for materials like argillite, felsite and rhyolite.
Saturday morning, while it was raining, I drove to a place where I found a nice rhyolite point last year. I had never searched this place while the ground was still quite wet and it is amazing how striking some materials look when wet, compared to the same stuff when it is dry. Rhyolite in particular can be gleaming and multicolored when wet, even a piece that is otherwise dull and uniform-looking. I picked up a lot of chips and flakes, I spent a lot of time being very thorough. But despite all my focus and effort the only tool I found was a quartz piece, here it is "in situ":

This is a stemmed projectile point that is unfortunately missing its tip. The base may be nicked as well, or perhaps it was made this way. It appears to have some grinding at the base. I consider this to be a decent find. Broken and quartz, but not a triangle, anyway. I would like to find more stemmed points. This one has weak shoulders.
I searched there for two hours but this was the only arrowhead I found. Today I went to a new place that I think will be a productive spot but I wasn't able to find anybody to ask for permission, I knocked on some doors but nobody was home. I will go back some other time. I went instead to another new spot that I felt less optimistic about. I found this:

This is the tip of a projectile point. Most points I find, including the stemmed piece above, are percussion flaked. This one is very finely pressure flaked, with tiny parallel flaking scars along the edges, which are very sharp. This tip is flat and thin and very well made, it is a fragment of what once must have been a very impressive arrowhead. I searched there for a few more hours and found only a badly broken quartz triangular point and also some old glass buttons, not what I was looking for but I enjoy finding those, too. Here are some close-ups of all of this weekend's arrowhead finds.

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