Friday, February 5, 2010

New Knappers and pièces esquillées

Last night we had the first of two Thursday night flintknapping workshops at Queen's College on the Memorial University campus. It was a small but talented group of knappers and everyone did a great job of wrangling their beer bottles into arrowheads.

For a time, things got dicey and bandaids outnumbered finished points, 3 to 1, but by the end of the evening I think the final score was Arrowheads 6: Bandaids 3. Here's a look at some of the glass and obsidian points they produced. Fantastic - congratulations everyone!

At home I've been doing a bit of wood working for a secret project. I don't think I'll spoil the surprise if I say that I had to spend some time splitting spruce poles yesterday. I used a metal hatchet and hammer to do the actual splitting and at first I was using wood wedges to keep the log pried apart. However, while I was doing it, I recalled some enigmatic little stone tools called pièces esquillées from Maritime Archaic assemblages along the Strait of Belle Isle. They are pretty variable in size and shape, but they share evidence of bipolar bashing, with crushing on opposite ends and faces. One of the possible functions of these pieces are as wedges used in working organic materials. So I tried using a few flakes as wedges while splitting the wood. They worked fine and when I bashed them with a hammerstone into the gap in the wood they seemed to crush and chip the way I recall seeing pièces esquillées. But I'm just going from memory -- I'll save the chert wedges and take them along the next time I get a chance to visit the Maritime Archaic collections at The Rooms.

I justify spending as much time as I do on this blog during my work days by telling myself that its a marketing tool. So I should try to sell you something. If you'd like to learn more about pièces esquillées and the Maritime Archaic Indians, you can order a copy of Studies in Newfoundland Archaeology, Volume 8: The Archaic Period in Newfoundland and Labrador ($10 + tax & shipping). There are 8 volumes in this set, each one dedicated to a different culture and time period and they contain searchable .pdfs of Masters Theses from graduates of Memorial University's archaeology program. You can see the complete list of CDs available on the Elfshot website.

Yeah, I know - still no handy Paypal buttons (although I can invoice you through Paypal). If you want to order, you need to send me an e-mail. Sorry about that, but my Marketing and IT Division got amalgamated into the Research and Development Department and he spends his time in the shed hammering rocks into logs.

Photo Credits:
1,2: Lori White
3-5: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
First: knapping beer bottle and obsidian
Second: Some of the points produced in the workshop
Third: Using chert wedges to split a spruce pole
Volume 8 The Archaic Period in Newfoundland and Labrador
Fifth: One of the wedges in place, notice how its been crushed and flaked on both sides while being hammered into the split wood.

1 comment:

  1. Aah! the thrill of the chase, as the clues fall into place!


Related Posts with Thumbnails