Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Beothuk or Little Passage Flintknapping Sequence

Knapping sequence, from
core to finished arrowhead
This stone and antler set illustrates the stages and tools that would have gone into making a Beothuk or Little Passage arrowhead from chert. Its composed entirely of raw materials from Newfoundland and is going to accompany the Beothuk bow and arrow in a local museum display. The set includes a chert core and assorted flakes with a small cobble hammerstone. The caribou antler tine would have been used to pressure flake the larger flakes into a triangular biface and then a corner-notched arrowhead. Evidence of soft hammer percussion or punch work also shows up in Recent Indian collections, but its not necessary for the small chert points, so I went with a simpler reduction sequence in this kit.  Over time, as iron became more available to the Beothuk, their knapped tools became simpler and simpler.

Chert core and flakes, with a hammer stone about the size of a chicken egg

The initial flakes removed from the core could be further worked using the pressure flaker.  Triangular Bifaces are common artifacts in Recent Indian sites in Newfoundland and could be unfinished arrowheads, un-notched knives, harpoon endblades or a combination of any of those tools.  

Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. Where does this material come from and what is it? I have seen some chert similar to what this looks like, and the stuff we find in my area (Lac Seul, ON)comes from all over but is predominantly Hudson's Bay Lowland chert.

    1. Its all chert from Newfoundland. The core and several of the flakes come from the west coast, south of Corner Brook and others come from the central part of the island, north of Botwood. There is a lot of good, fine grained chert here, but unfortunately most of it is riddled with internal fractures. Its great for small stuff.

    2. I have a hard time finding decent stone in my area, the closest quarry site is four hours away and its fractured Jasper Taconite in Thunder Bay On, and the other source Wiky Chert from Manitoulin Island, so I can relate to having to use fractured material producing points averaging two inches, 2.5 if I'm lucky.

      I really like the look of that chert, reminds me of the artifacts I find in my area. Does your material come in cobbles or is it in vanes?

  2. Just wanted to say thanks, Tim, for maintaining this awesome blog. I'm an amateur primitive technology buff, and your blog is a great resource.

    Cape Breton


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