Tuesday, May 15, 2018
The act of creating a notch, to attach a stone point, kind of gets glossed over when discussing Stone Age hafting technics. There are a number of methods involving sawing, drilling, wedging, and splitting. One used prehistorically for atlatl dart foreshafts and spears, was perhaps first described by archaeologist C.B. Cosgrove in 1947. The tale tell splintered condition at the bottom of the notch, score marks, and shaft splits, led to the discovery of how it was made. The shaft is notched on opposite sides, rotated 1/4 turn, and two more notches are cut farther down the shaft. Splits are started by bending the end of the shaft back and forth. Then the split section is carefully, and forcefully, bent and broken from the shaft - leaving a notch. This can be cleaned up with a stone flake. This is actually a fairly easy technic. The original Cosgrove drawing of this technic was published in, “Caves of the Upper Gila and Hueco Areas in New Mexico and Texas.” This same technic was noted in the artifacts studied in “Stone Age Spear and Arrow Points of California and the Great Basin”, by Noel D. Justice.
Sunday, May 13, 2018
Pictured is a fire hardened spear point, dated at over 400,000 years old, discovered in 1911 in England. It is the oldest known worked wooden implement, known as the Clacton spear. Everything I have ever read about making wooden spears involves hardening the point in the super heated soil, or coals of a fire. I thought this was interesting... a team of British researchers conducted tests in 2016 on the effects of fire hardening on wooden spearpoints. After treating, and subjecting wooden shafts to impact, they concluded that fire treating did ‘slightly’ harden the point, but also ‘significantly’ weakened it by making it 35% more brittle. They surmised that the appearance of purposeful fire hardening, may more so have been the byproduct of charring the tip, so that it could be more easily shaved or abraded into a sharp point. It was more about reducing the time and labor to produce a sharp point on a wooden shaft. As a side bar, flintknapper Jack Cresson conducted experiments with hardwood flakers, fire hardening some. He concluded that the fire treatment did nothing to increase the efficiency of the pressure flaker flintknapping. As a thought, perhaps burnishing (polishing by rubbing with a bone) the point, compressing the wood fibers, after forming the point might be more efficient.