Friday, October 15, 2010

Tech Report: Hammerstones, Harpoon Heads and Lasers

Checking the reference photos
Yesterday was a bit of a running around day, but hopefully I can spend today in the workshop or at least part of it.  The harpoon heads are coming along nicely.  I try not to move too fast when I'm working on designs that are new to me.  I find it takes a while to wrap my head around the new shapes and if I try to finish them too quickly there are always details that I miss.  I'll make a few cuts in the workshop, then bring the pieces back inside and compare them with the reference photos or artifacts, if I'm lucky enough to be working directly from an artifact.  In the evenings, I'll fidget with them and make new notes and marks on them while watching TV or working on the computer.

The Elfshot wall at the PAO
I had a quick visit up at the Provincial Archaeology Office yesterday to collect some rock samples that need some smaller flakes knocked off them.  The cores don't know it yet, but they are on their way to get laser ablated in the Department of Earth Sciences at Memorial University of Newfoundland.  But before they can be ablated, they need to be cracked and walloped into manageable size pieces that will fit inside the machine.  The analysis gives a detailed picture of the elements that make up the rock.  The purpose of the testing is to attempt to match stone tools made from an un-sourced material with rock samples from known quarries, to try to determine where the ancient knapper got their stone.

Prepare to be ablated.
I like the idea that the same technology used to prepare tools to butcher an antelope 2.5 million years ago in Africa can be used to prepare rock samples in 2010 for something called Laser Ablation Microprobe Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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