Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quartz arrowhead finds

     Recently I had a chance to view a really fine arrowhead collection from the very area where I spend most of my time searching. Most of the points in the collection were made of interesting regional and even exotic materials like cherts, felsites and rhyolites, there were really old stemmed types- Stark, Neville, a Bifurcate Base- and newer types, too, Orient Fishtail, Fox Creek, through to triangular Levanna points. This collector only had a small handful of quartz triangles and Small Stemmed types, that I have found so many of. It was hard for me to explain how this person could have assembled a collection so varied in types and materials while I find a much more limited variety of tools looking in the same towns, along the same waterways in some cases. But this collector told me that his entire collection was from just a few sites, now virtually all destroyed. Most of my collection comes from a relatively small number of places, too. These sites where I am finding arrowheads seem to have had a lot of people living there during the late Archaic period and for whatever reason it seems that during that time, or at least part of that time, there were people who had a very strong preference for quartz to the extent that other materials were virtually excluded. It has been suggested that these people did not travel as much as other cultures at other times, and did not have much access to regional trade routes. This is not only the case in southeastern New England but also is true in other regions right down the east coast. Quartz is a very hard material to work and making tools out of this material created a lot of waste. Sites where quartz tools were manufactured and maintained are easy for me to identify due to the quantity of waste chips and flakes that were generated. I find fewer flakes made of other materials even at the sites I know where tools made out of different types of stone can be found. Perhaps the vast amount of waste flakes I find in places where this local quartz industry dominated has created in me an unreasonable expectation for how many artifacts (flakes) I should expect to find when surface hunting. I might perhaps be too quick to dismiss sites that may have been occupied by people of other cultures who preferred other materials and may not have generated as much debitage. I will say this much, I am sure that I am not focusing on quartz and missing other materials at the sites I go to. I pick up virtually every broken rock in some places and yet quartz artifacts absolutely dominate my collections from most of my most productive sites. Here are some of my latest quartz finds.
     Here is the nicely-made base of an arrowhead sticking out of the dirt. Finely flaked edges, a nice squared-off stem and a clearly defined shoulder.
      I spotted this and imagined two possibilities: either this was going to be a very nice arrowhead, or it would be broken. I was surprised by what I found when I picked it up. It turns out there was a third possibility I had failed to consider: something that had started off life as a nicely made tool, but that was resharpened and reworked before being discarded.
     I feel sure the asymmetrical shape is due to being reworked, probably this was used as a scraper until the blade became so small it could not be resharpened any more. Here is is with other projectile point fragments I found at the same place, also a piece of a clay pipe from later times.
     I went for a quick walk in a productive place. I walked in, found this and left. A typical find for me, in a favorite spot where I have had a lot of luck.
     This is a nice one with a deep basal concavity.
     This past Friday night I was back at that same spot.The piece on the left is interesting, a stemmed point with one shoulder only. The narrow projectile point tip at the bottom is tantalizing. I have a lot of tips from this site, and a lot of bases and points missing tips, too. Some day I will be able to make a point whole again, I hope.
     This was from last Friday, too, in a different spot I stopped by at the end of the day. So fun to find a point just waiting to be picked up like this.
     I'm really happy with this one despite the damage. I like the long stem.
     Sunday I went for another walk. Usually if I spot a little piece of worked stone sticking out of the ground like this it is either a broken arrowhead fragment, or just a flake.
     Only very rarely is it a whole arrowhead. This was a nice surprise!
     I picked up a couple of fragments, too, as usual.
     Well, I did find one special artifact recently that is not quartz. It's not an arrowhead, either. I need to take some better pictures of it before I post it here.


Menotomy Maps said...


pwax said...

You hava a wonderful collection of little quartz triangles.

Anonymous said...

I live in Mendon and there is a large quarry debris field near me of only Quartz too. Like you,I cannot find much any other type of rock debris here either!

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