Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tip-Flute Spalls and Preforms

A tip-flute spall and preform
I took a few extra artifact photos yesterday that aren't for the report.  These are just reference photos for me to use the next time I need to make tip-fluted endblades.   In the Arctic, tip-fluting is a unique characteristic of Dorset Palaeoeskimo endblades.  The tip-flute spalls that are produced as a by product of the technique are just as diagnostic as a finished endblade.

The tip-flute spalls on the left were removed from the left side of this preform, or one just like it.  The one on the right of the preform is a right sided spall, but I don't think it came off of this preform.   Its from an endblade that was more finely worked to a later stage.
I couldn't quite get any of the spalls to refit the preform, but a couple of them are such close matches to the material and pattern in the rock, that I'm sure they're part of the same knapping episode.  There's a spall sitting on the preform in this picture, but its almost invisible.  The spall on the right is very interesting to me because it didn't quite come off correctly.  The knapper was intending to make a spall about half the width, but instead s/he accidently removed most of the face of the endblade, rather than just one edge.  It preserves the complete tip of the endblade and shows how the platform was set up for a flute removal.  

Viewed from the side you can see how the edge was prepared for fluting.   The preform is relatively thick and although its worked bifacially, it hasn't really been thinned - its more of as alternately flaked stitched edge.  The scale of this preform seems out of proportion to the finished product and there seem to have been multiple flutes removed very early in the process.  Multiple tip-flutes leading up to the final two that are usually visible on a finished endblade are normal, but this piece seems excessive in a number of regards.  It makes me wonder if its a practice or teaching piece.   As I write that, I realize there are a couple papers about novice Palaeo-eskimo flinknappers that I should go read.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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