Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back at the new site, quartz stemmed arrowhead

Last week I posted about a new site where I found a few arrowheads. I didn't have time last weekend to thoroughly and systematically scour the entire area, I skipped around a little and there were a few spots where I did not have time to search. During the week it rained on two days, this was enough to encourage me to go back and to see what I might have missed and if anything new had been exposed. Looking in a little place that I had not been before, I found a broken quartz projectile point midsection- a large point or blade missing the tip and also snapped at the base. For me any find is a good find and this was enough to make the drive and the time spent searching worthwhile, it was good to find it.

I kept looking and moved into an area where I had looked the week before. I tried to ignore my own footprints and the rocks I had already flipped over. Fron time to time I would spot a chip or flake barely peeking out of the dirt, any broken edge protruding from the soil has to be checked. Then I found this, fully exposed on the ground:

This is something special and I was thrilled to find it. I looked at it for a long while before I picked it up, savoring it. Here it is in my hand, for scale:

The most remarkable thing about this find, to me, was this: less than two feet away from this obvious and exposed point, was the footprint of an arrowhead hunter who missed it. And that hunter was me. I must have practically stepped right over this thing. I would like to believe that this point was exposed by the recent rain, but I don't know that it rained hard enough to completely expose this if it was buried before. Perhaps it was covered by a leaf on my previous visit. But it could also be that as I walked by this point I was distracted just for a moment, maybe I was picking up some other rocks nearby, or looked up at a bird for two steps in just the wrong moment. Sometimes I will revisit a place where I have looked and find tiny fragments I missed barely visible and mostly buried in the dirt, that is normal as you can never spot absolutely everything. But this one was super obvious and I seem to have walked right by it. I scoured the entire area, looked everywhere I could, I didn't find anything else.

This point appears to have grinding on the stem. I took another look at the felsite stemmed point I found last week and that definitely was ground. This quartz one was probably resharpened down from something bigger. I think these might be Merrimack points, 6,000 years old.


pwax said...

Nice and symmetric, a beautiful point! I have nothing like that and it seems more like a "small stemmed" point than a member of the Merrimack family. But it is pretty big too. Congratulations.

Chris Pittman said...

I suggested Merrimack based on the well-thinned and ground stem, the neatly executed shoulders, and the size. These can be difficult or impossible to type with certainty, I have read that narrow stemmed points may have been a technological manifestation rather than a cultural manifestation, they seem to have been widely used at many times all over the eastern US and variations may not be as significant with these as with other types, for whatever reason. The terms "small stemmed," Lamoka and Wading River seem to be used more or less interchangeably in Massachusetts to describe points with this shape.

pwax said...

I have heard this opinion of stemmed points not being cultural but based on practical uses of the point. I don't buy it on an emotional level but there is also an rational reason to reject it: the stemmed points coincide with certain limited types of material. Those materials are not found with other types of arrowheads. So it is cultural.

pwax said...

Of course I should be honest and admit I don't know those later arrowhead types. For some reason they are not common here in Concord.