ROSS POINT

These wonderful examples are curated at the Museum of the American Indian in New York.

Name: Dr. James B. Griffin suggested the name (1965) for these large ceremonial blades that occur in the Hopewell mounds of Ross County, Ohio. The Hopewell mounds were excavated by Moorhead in 1891 and 1892. The Hopewell trade system expanded into the Southeast and may have been influential in the development of the Florida Mortuary Blade of the same period.

Description: The Ross is a large, wide blade characterized by large, wide diagonal notches chipped into a large convex to angular basal edge, creating wide, rounded barbs and an expanding stem similar to Snyders points. The blade is widest at the barbs and the blade edge is recurved, converging abruptly at a broad distal end. The flaking is primarily percussion and is somewhat collateral with secondary pressure flaking along the blade edges. The blades range from 12.7 to 43 cm in length and up to 14 cm in width. Blades are either straight or curved and may be notched or left without the notch. Examples are most often made from obsidian, believed to have originated in the area of Yellowstone National Park and obtained through the Hopewellian trade system. Some examples are known to be made from Illinois Kaolin flint, Knife River flint, and Lower Illinois River Valley white chert.

Age & Distribution: Ross points were made by the Hopewell people between 50 B.C. and 150 A.D. They have been found in the Hopewell mounds in Ohio, usually in a crematory context. Examples have also been recovered from log tombs in Wisconsin and Illinois. The point is believed to be a purely ceremonial artifact as it has rarely been found outside of Hopewell burials or ceremonial structures.

GAHAGAN

Name: This point was named by James A. Brown (1976) for the Gahagan Mounds, Red River Parish, Louisiana, where many examples were found.

Description: This is a large, lanceolate knife form, usually thin, with straight, convex or recurved sides and a straight basal edge. The base is often wider than the blade. The knife ranges from three to nine inches long. Because of its resemblance to the Copena point, it was originally referred to as Copena in the literature. Many examples are made of brown chert thought to be derived from sources on the Edwards Plateau of central Texas. A recent discovery of similar chert in nodular form from the Sulphur River south of Paris, Texas indicates a more local origin.

Age: Early Caddoan, dating from A.D. 900 to 1200. Some may be earlier, coming from the end of the Coles Creek culture dating from A.D. 750. Copena is of Middle Woodland age and therefore earlier. A similar local Texas point, the Kinney, is thought to be of Late Archaic origin making it earlier than either Gahagan or Copena.

Distribution: Examples have been recovered from the Spiro Mounds site in Oklahoma, southwestern Arkansas, northwestern Louisiana and northeastern Texas. These areas are part of the Caddoan Mississippian cultural area.

 

YADKIN

Name: Joffre Coe named this type from his work in the Carolina Piedmont. Yadkin points appear on the same sites as Eared Yadkin points and seem to be related. The name is derived from Yadkin County and river in North Carolina.

Age: Whatley gives the date range for Yadkin points between 2500 and 1500BP.Jerald Ledbetter remarked that they often appear with Dunlap and Cartersville ceramics.

Description: Yadkin points are medium sized, ranging in length from 1 to 3.5 inches (24 to 90mm) in length. The blade edges are straight and triangular in form with an acute distal end. The basal corners are rounded and the basal edge is deeply concave. Whatley notes that most examples are made of quartz, even when chert was available.

Distribution: Most Yadkin points are recovered from Early to Middle Woodland sites within the Piedmont region of Georgia.

 

 

 

THE TOOLS AND BASIC PROCESS OF

FLINT KNAPPING

Our purpose here is not to teach flint knapping, but to acquaint you with a basic understanding of the process of ancient stone working and the use of the tools you may find in the fields you hunt.

PROCUREMENT:

The first step in stone working is to locate and retrieve the stone material. The procurement site will appear as a rock face or outcropping of workable stone, often along a stream that has eroded the soil around it.

Some sites are small and obscure and appear as small openings in the woods while others are large and may stretch for miles along rivers like the Flint River in Georgia.

These sites are often littered with broken fragments of stone and broken tools. There will usually be obvious places where stone has been broken and removed within the site. There may also be any number of preforms that scatter the surface as was the case at Lake Marion in Alachua County, Florida. Large holes may also have been dug into the earth as there was at the Senator Edwards site in Florida.

The tools of procurement will include digging sticks, often made of wood or bone that were used to free the rock from the soil. Larger rocks may also have been used to smash chunks of stone from boulders. These rocks will show crushed or broken edges.

Digging tools were made of bone, wood or stone. Wooden tools will most often parish while bone is sometimes preserved under the right conditions. Stone tools include hoes and adzes that may appear heavily damaged.

Heavier tools for digging were sometimes used to loosen large rocks or dig deep holes. These include heavy adzes and malls for breaking rocks.

SPALLING:

Once the large rocks were loosened and could be worked, they had to be broken into usable sections that became usable, referred to as cores. Hafted malls or very large hammer stones were used for this purpose.

 

A mall is more often a rock with a groove for hafting than a finely worked tool. Given their abusive purpose, they were not expected to last long before needing replacement.

Once the broken section of parent rock was made, long, broad flakes called spalls could be chipped off from the edges by striking the flat broken surface of the core with a hammer stone. These flakes were then ideal for making knife blades or projectile points. Hammers used in the spalling process were usually large and were often badly damage or broken in pieces.

Once the spalls were made, they were formed into leaf-shaped quarry blanks or preforms. The completed point was rarely formed at the quarry site. Shaping the preform required percussion flaking that was done through the use of billets made of antler, bone, wood or stone. Few if any wooden billets have survived.

Hammer stones were also used in the shaping of preforms and may be found at quarry sites. Hammer stone came in many sizes, but like the mall, their life was short due to their abusive purpose. Some hammers are large and broad while others are thin, depending on the size of flake that was needed. A few hammer stones were shaped with one thick and one thin edge for dual usage. Most of these stones have a small dimple pecked into one or both sides of the disc and are sometimes confused with biscuit discoidals. The major difference between the two is that the edges of a nicely shaped hammer stone are rough to bite into the edge of the chert quarry blank while the edges of the biscuit discoidal are smooth.

Once a sufficient number of quarry blanks are completed and the Indian returned home, the blanks were often buried in the earth for safe keeping until they are needed. That is why several blanks are often found in a cache. A cache can number from a few preforms to more than twenty blanks.

REDUCTION:

The next stage of lithic production is reduction, meaning that the quarry blank or preform is removed from the soil and worked into the desired blade or projectile point. This stage of the work was done in a site type called a reduction site or chipping station. The location of this site is usually a short distance from the campsite to prevent sharp flakes of stone from being left on the ground where they may cut the feet of family members. This site can be identified by the hundreds of small to medium flakes scattered across it along with a few broken hammer stones and broken blanks. Broken blanks are often the result of unseen cracks in the chert. A strike in the wrong place will break the preform. When this happens, especially in the later stages of flint knapping, it can result in “emotional distribution.” One end of the blade finds its way to one end of the site and the other end lands hard in the opposite direction.


The reduction stage requires some specialized tools that can include antler batons or billets, stone hammers, abraders or grinding stones to dull the preform edges and stone or antler flakers. Stone flakers (center row) are often not recognized in sites. Flakers are used after the percussion work is done to straighten the blade edge, add serration, and later to resharpen used blades.

Percussion flaking is used to further develop the blade shape.  This process was accomplished through the use of hammer stones or billets made of antler or wood, generally removing broad shallow flakes across the surface of the blade.  On Paleoindian points, this process often results in what is called "over shot" flaking, where the flakes travel across the blade face past the center line, often reaching the opposite side of the blade.  By the Early Archaic period, over shot flaking had been abandoned and flakes generally traveled to the center line, often forming a hump or "median ridge" along the center of the blade.  Percussion flaking was usually done randomly in a way that addressed the features of the stone.  On some very workable stone, flakes could be taken off evenly and could meet in the center of the blade at regular intervals.  This process is called collateral flaking.

Once the general shape of the blade is complete, pressure flaking is used along the blade edges to even and straighten them.  This process was done with an antler tine. Broken antler points may be recovered from some reduction sites. At this point, the removal of fine flakes usually causes some degree of serration that leaves a very sharp edge.  Some point types are more deeply serrated and are intended to remain as part of the diagnostic characteristics of the blade.  These serrations are also added through the use of antler flakers.


Finally, the blade is prepared for hafting or fastening it to a handle or shaft.  Throughout the Archaic period, this usually meant the forming of notches or a stem.  Notches were formed using an antler tine that may have been ground to a narrow point to reach into the notch, or notches may have been punched using a bone or antler punch and an anvil.  The side notches of the Early Archaic period soon gave way to corner notching and finally to stemmed basal structures.  Basal smoothing or grinding along the basal edge and hafting area was also soon abandoned.

The Osceola point has an incurvate basal edge for a solid-core handle while the Bolen point had both incurvate and excurvate basal edges for either solid or hollow-core handles.  Handles were often fashioned from large sections of antler.

Hafting a blade was done with a solid-core material like wood or antler or with a hollow-core material like cane or bone.  The material selected for hafting often determined the shape of the basal edge of the blade.  Excurvate, rounded, stemmed, or pointed basal edges worked best in hollow-core handles while solid-core handles required flat or incurvate basal edges to stabilize the point.

Whatever handle material is selected, some kind of adhesive or pitch was used in conjunction with sinew lacing to secure the point in place.  In some cases, a glue was made from antler or bone, but other materials consisted mainly of tree sap that was gathered up and formed into balls of the stick substance that was then suspended on a stick (above: note the hole in the view on the right).  The substance would dry and could be softened by heating whenever needed.


As blades were repeatedly used and edges became dulled through use, the antler flaker was again used to resharpen the blades.  Flakes were removed bi-facially, quickly reducing the size of the blade, or through beveling that removed less material, allowing the blade to last as much as six times longer.  Blades often become unbalanced with one side being broader than the other, sometimes to the point that one edge would be completely used up into the thick central point of the blade.  Because blades were resharpened after the hafting process, this unbalanced development was probably due, at least in part, by the "feel" of the handle more than the blade function.

Eventually the blade was completely used up.  If the process had reduced the length of the blade, only a nub may remain while the hafting area was still intact.  If the blade length had essentially been maintained, the point may then be used as a drill or perforator until it was completely exhausted.

HAMILTON (WOODLAND) TRIANGULAR




 

Name: John Whatley applied the name Late Woodland Triangular to this type to demonstrate the appearance of these small triangular blades in the archaeological record.[1] TMN Lewis and Madeline Kneberg named this type the Hamilton point for Hamilton County, Tennessee where they were first reported.

Age: Sassaman estimated the appearance of these points at AD100, “but certainly by AD500.”[2] The lithic technology of the McKeithen Weeden Island sites was dominated by these triangular points. These sites began to appear directly from the Deptford sites by 200 A.D. across northern Florida, spreading across southwestern Georgia.  Mound construction began at the McKeithen site near Lake City, Florida about 350 A.D.  Point types identified as Pinellas (here named the Woodland Triangular), Tampa, and Ichetucknee were scattered throughout the site.  Mound B was constructed as a low platform mound, upon which had stood the house of a prominent person.  A burial excavated beneath the floor of the house contained the presumed occupant.  The individual had been shot in the left buttock with what Jerald Milanich described as an "arrow" point.  The 1.25 inch Ichetucknee point was still embedded in the bone.  This seems to be the beginning of use for the bow and is the earliest fatality by an arrow.

Description: The Late Woodland Triangular point is small, measuring only between .75 and 1.5 inches (19 to 34mm) in length with occasional examples reaching as much as 2 inches (50mm) in length. The blade ranges from equilateral to isosceles triangular in shape. Blade edges are usually straight, but can be concave. The basal edge is flat to incurvate, or rarely slightly excurvate.

Distribution: Late Woodland Triangular points are expected to occur in nearly all counties in Georgia.  The map below illustrates the Middle and Late Woodland sites where these points are more likely to occur.

 [1] Whatley, John S., An Overview of Georgia Projectile Points And Selected Cutting Tools, Early Georgia, Vol. 30, No. 1, The Society for Georgia Archaeology. April, 2002, p.64

 [2] Sassaman, K.E., J. Brooks, G.T. Hanson, and D.G. Anderson, Native American Prehistory of the Middle Savannah River Valley: A Synthesis of Archaeological Investigations on the Savannah River Site, Aiken and Barnwell Counties, South Carolina. Savannah River Archaeological Research Papers I, Occasional Papers of the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina, Columbia.