Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hafting with MUNArch

Obsidian scraper on softwood handle
Tonight is the last night of the three week crash course in flintknapping sponsored by MUNArch for archaeology students at Memorial University.  In the first two weeks we covered percussion and pressure flaking and now we are finishing up with hafting.  We are keeping it simple, using hide glue and spruce pitch with ochre for the glues and sinew, gut, and hemp cord for the lashing.  There are more than 25 students taking the workshop, so we split it up over two nights.  Here are some shots from last night's group.

Applying the pitch glue
The ingredient list for hafting can be a little intimidating for people just starting out with this sort of thing, but when you have everything collected, the actual process of attaching a handle or foreshaft to a stone tool is surprisingly simple.  I think that experimenting with hafting early on in your knapping education can help a new knapper skip through some early learning plateaus.  Actually trying to fit a handle onto a knife or point forces you to look at your tools from a more functional point of view.  There were students at last night's workshop who were touching up tools that looked finished a week ago, but that they realized could use a little more work in the hafting area when it came time to actually fit them on to a stick.  Even if they never try to tie another rock to a stick in their life, they understand some of the functional reasons why stone tools look the way they do.

Over the past few weeks, we've produced thousands of flakes and dozens of tools.  A lot of people at the first of two hafting sessions were able to haft two or more flakes or tools.

 There were a lot of good arrow or dart foreshafts finished
A very cool obsidian knife

A scraper and hafted projectile point
A little bit of work on the base of the foreshaft to fit it into a bamboo stake from a garden centre and you can have a serviceable spear or dart in no time.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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