Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July finds

     Looking for arrowheads in the heat of the summer is tough. Sweat stings my eyes, the hot sun beats down on me in the shadeless places I search. Horse-flies inflict painful bites. Summer thunderstorms can include periods of very heavy rain that cause erosion and can expose artifacts, but there have been very few of those so far this summer, in the places I have been searching. After days (or weeks) without rain, the sun bakes the earth into a uniform-looking crust, dust covers all and it is very, very hard to find anything at all.
     Despite this, I have been getting out and looking. I have found artifacts at three different sites so far this month. The first two are favorite places that I visit again and again. They were inhabited by different cultures, the artifact assemblages are different. Here is a broken Stark point in situ at the most productive of the sites, I was lucky to go there after it had rained and find some things just waiting to be picked up.
     Not far away I spotted a fragment of another tool, perhaps a knife or scraper, made of the same gray rhyolite material.
     Here these are together with other artifacts I found in multiple visits to this place, this month. The fruits of many hours of searching. Frustratingly, all are broken, some are just fragments.

     The materials include quartz, argillite, and felsite. A couple of these things are really big, there is a pink felsite piece I initially thought was a preform but careful examination reveals small flaking scars on the edges where they were retouched using pressure flaking, so it must have been a tool. The giant stemmed base would have been a monster of a point.
     The break on this interesting stemmed point appears to be very fresh. The other piece is probably somewhere nearby but it is tiny and I will almost certainly never find it.
     Here are my finds from two trips to another site where I find a lot of quartz triangles. I think this place might have been a fishing camp, I speculate that the triangular points in this place may have been made for spearing fish.
     The quartz points are easy to spot even when conditions are dry. But it took a lot of time sweating out in the sun to come up with these three broken and damaged pieces.
     The highlight of the month so far has been my first finds in a new place. This is a place that I have been trying to get in to for 3 years, it is close to another area where I have found quartz tools. It is immediately adjacent to some houses, the people in those homes will call the police if they see anybody on the property. The land itself is owned by someone else who lives elsewhere, it is leased by yet another person. Getting permission to get in there took a lot of time and patience, I had to earn trust and be introduced to people and get written permission and now I finally can get in there and spend some time. I first visited this place in the wintertime and found flakes and chips but no tools. I returned on this past Sunday afternoon, hoping something new might have popped up. But after weeks of dry weather, the conditions were deplorable. Only small areas were searchable. Despite this I did find some things. I found a badly broken quartz fragment that is part of a projectile point, then a triangle made from an interesting material but sadly missing all three corners. Looking further, I found the banged-up base of a neat petagonal point made out of an exotic non-local stone I am not familiar with, and finally the lower part of what once was a very nice and finely made quartz stemmed point. I know that there will be more to find there after a good rain storm that might wash off the rocks and open up some new spots. The artifacts here are different from the ones I have found just a short distance away, I would love to find a whole example of the pentagonal type, I think it is called Jacks Reef Petagonal.
     Monday night it rained a short time. I hoped this rain might have created some improvement in the new place so I went there last night after work. I don't think a drop of rain fell there, the conditions seemed to have gotten even worse. Sand was blowing around in the breeze, the ground (in those places where the ground was visible) was covered with crusty dirt clods covered with dust. Very, very few rocks were visible. I occupied myself with picking up broken pieces of crockery I could see here and there, I decided to keep the pieces that have decoration on them. Perhaps there was a home here at one time. I know there are flakes and chips there but I only saw very, very few. Walking along the edge of a sandy spot, I spotted a familiar shape lying among the clods and dust.
     If this had not been right on top of the ground and fully exposed like this I probably would not have noticed it. From a distance it looked like just another clump of dirt. This is a really cool tool, very big, and thick. It is sturdy and does not seem aerodynamic, I think this is a Stark knife, perhaps a spear point. It is banged up, the tip is worn, a chunk is missing from the stem. But it is mostly intact, as close as I have come to a whole arrowhead in a while.
     I am really thrilled with this one. I'm not sure what the material is. It was the only thing I found last night. If we can get some good rain I am sure I can find more in that place but I probably won't find anything better than this. Here it is cleaned up, also a photo of it along with my finds from the same area on Sunday.


pwax said...

Last picture, lower right: that sure looks like a small clovis. Could we see some other pictures of it?

Chris Pittman said...

That is the one that I am calling Jack's Reef Pentagonal, made out of some non-local chert. I think the base was originally straight and the concavity is caused by damage that also produced what looks like fluting on that side. I will take some good photos of that one for evaluation.

Chris Pittman said...

Here are three close up pictures of this artifact.

I might have been too hasty coming to a determination on this one. It may be impossible to say what this was originally, I think it was worked down from something bigger and is now at the discard stage. It is worn, beat-up and broken. This one, too, was lying right on the surface fully exposed but I thought it was just a flake until I picked it up.

pwax said...

I see what you mean but it is still close. Comes down to the relative age of that "damage" which might be interpreted as a "flute".