Sunday, January 08, 2012

First finds for the year

I spent a few hours out looking for artifacts this afternoon. I had an average day looking in a place where I found some decent points last year. I found a few broken projectile point fragments and one rough little dart point or knife, nothing really good, but I am thrilled with any find. I'm going to post pictures of everything I brought home today, just to show the types of artifacts one might encounter spending hours staring at the ground in a likely place- usually I will show only my better finds but thought it might be interesting to illustrate some more typical things. The items at left in this first picture are colonial-era English or Dutch kaolin clay pipe bowl fragments, these pipes have been excavated from Contact period Indian sites in this area but there is no way to date these bowl fragments and they could be from as late as the 1800s. In the center are two quartz projectile point fragments, the upper fragment is probably something worked down from something bigger and then discarded, the piece at bottom is a stem fragment of a "small stemmed" point and it is very finely flaked, it would have been a nice point. The object at right is the only (mostly) intact point I found.
Here is a front and back view of the point or knife. If I came across this in a place that was otherwise void of stone artifacts I might have simply dismissed it as nothing more than a broken rock. The tip and edges seem worn, I imagine from ancient use before this was discarded.
The edges do show the alternating flaking typical of most of the percussion flaked artifacts I find. I believe that this material is a type of rhyolite. Please excuse my dirty fingers, I had been wiping sand off of broken rock fragments for hours.
Here are some other artifacts I brought home, that I usually would not show. I like to try to preserve the entire artifact assemblage when I am surface collecting so I will bring home and bag stuff like this, I have a bag for each site I search. I don't bring home every single flake and chip but try to keep things that are representative examples, or things that may have been used as tools. In the top row are a waste flake of a banded quartz that was valued for making tools, another quartz flake that looks like someone might have worked on one edge, and a broken piece of some kind of unidentified stone, presumably waste from toolmaking. At bottom are a broken worked quartz piece that might have been a crude scraper or knife, a blue argillite flake showing flaking scars on one face, and a rhyolite flake. When I search a place for the first time, I am looking for artifacts like this; if you can spot chipping debris and flakes, you have found a spot worth carefully searching.
Here is the bigger stuff. At left, a big blue argillite chunk, broken, showing some possible flaking along the upper left edge, perhaps it is a broken remnant of an old scraper, or a tool for digging or woodworking, or juast a piece of material that never got around to being made into a point. The object at right is made of a hard fine-grained stone I can't identify, some of the cortex from the cobble is visible at the top and it has been flaked (crudely) bifacially and has an edge all the way around. Similar tools found elswhere are called "cobble choppers" or "proto-handaxes" and are said to be up to one million years old. I might suggest that this much younger tool was perhaps hastily made for some specific purpose and then discarded, it could have been used as an axe, I am just guessing.


pwax said...

Google is being awfully kind to this blog. A recent visitor got hear by searching for "kaolin".

Dennis said...