Miscellaneous Flint Artifacts
Fluted points are found widely throughout temperate North America and have been of special interest to archaeologists since at least 1927 when a fluted Folsom point was discovered in clear context with the bones of a now-extinct Pleistocene species of bison. They have become the hallmark of the Paleo-Indian period, for years considered to be the earliest period of human habitation in North America. However, the notion of pre-Paleo-Indian (or pre-projectile-point) cultures in North America goes back many years as well (e.g., Krieger 1962, 1964). Relatively recent findings from a small collection of stratified sites, such as Topper in South Carolina (see Meltzer 2009 for a review of the earliest sites), have provided what appears to be increasingly solid evidence in support of pre-Paleo-Indian theories. But the artifacts attributed to such cultures are not as distinctive or skillfully made as those left by Paleo-Indians. Hence, fluted points of various types, many of which hold enormous esthetic appeal because of their remarkable workmanship, remain as sought after as they are elusive.
The two fluted points that we found were collected on different sites, about 40 km apart, and are different in both form and lithic material. The point in Figure 1-A, only the lower half of which remains, is what might be considered typical Clovis in form. Composed of clear (or crystal) quartz, the base is 28 mm in width and 8 mm in thickness. It has prominent fluting on one side, extending 19 mm up from the concave base, and a lesser flute on the reverse, extending 8 mm up from the base. About 20 mm of the edges of the basal hafting area have been dulled by grinding, typical of Clovis and other fluted points (Peck 1998). We found very few clear quartz projectile points of any type: less than 1% of the total. But the published literature clearly suggests that clear quartz was a lithic material admired by Paleo-Indians Peck (1998, 2003, 2004), for example, shows a number of clear-quartz Clovis or Clovis-like points, several of which are similar to the one in our Figure 1-A.
The other fluted point (Figure 1-B) is complete except for the basal auricles (or ears), both of which were partially broken in modern times. The breakage areas clearly show that the interior of the point is of a dark material, probably a form of rhyolite (see Ward and Davis 1999) whereas the patinated surface is cream to light tan in color. The patina of this point (measured at the break points as penetrating 0.2 - 0 3 mm into the surface of the point) is different in color and texture from all other points found at the same site and, in fact, different from virtually all other points in our collections from the east-Piedmont region. Relative to other points found on our sites, the flaking is more precise and delicate. The point is 49 mm in length, 20 mm in width, and 7 mm (max.) in thickness. On one side the fluting is prominent and extends 24 mm up from the base, about half the length of the blade. On the other side, there is flaking for about 10 mm up from the base. The blade edges near the hafting area of the base show only slight smoothing or grinding.
The clear quartz point (Figure 1-A) was found in a plowed field near a small stream in Durham County, about 10 km from the city of Durham. A full spectrum of Archaic period point types were represented at the site, including (using the nomenclature of Coe 1964): Palmer, Kirk, Stanly, Morrow Mountain, Guilford, and Savannah River, as well as Rowan (Cooper 1970; Overstreet 2007) and miscellaneous others. Other sites within a 25 km distance, including some near the Eno River, produced Hardway side-notched and Hardaway-Dalton points, in addition to the other Archaic point types mentioned above.
Two fluted points found on the surface of plowed fields, North Carolina (A) on the left, Durham County.
(B) on the right, Chatham County.
"Used by Permission of the Author"
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