Sunday, March 29, 2009

Post 3 -- Abo or Neo -- Antler Tine or Copper?

One of the on-going choices which knappers face is the choice of tools to use for pressure flaking, or for that matter, in percussion (hammering) work on larger pieces of stone.

The selection is between stone, bone and antler tools compared to copper and other metal tools. Between what we call paleo or aboriginal (abo) type tools and methods compared to neolithic (neo or new) style tools which may actually be made of soft metal such as copper.

The reason there is even a debate is that in late Stone Age societies in northern Africa, like Egypt, or in northern Europe, like Denmark, the knappers were sometimes using copper tools to work flint.

Most think that in the New World the local folks did not use metals, only stone, bone, antler, even wood tools for working flint and obsidian. Thus, some feel that only these naturally derived materials should be used to authentically work with flint and obsidian in making stone tools and hunting weapons.

However, I would like to point out that, even in North America, there are a number of cultures which used copper tools ... around the copper-rich areas of the Great Lakes, of Arizona, of Mexico, etc.

I have seen ancient rods of native copper in the Field Museum, in Chicago, which are over 2,000 years old. They very likely were used as pressure flaking tools, much as those tools which were used by one of the last native indigenous knappers, "Ishi", when he demonstrated the processes at a university in California back at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

So, the choice is to be made. You can use copper-tipped pressure flaking tools, or deer antler or bone flaking tools. Both are readily available. And in the Beginner's Knapping Kits which I supply to new knappers, I provide both.

The process of working with the two tools is similar in method, and essentially identical in objective. You want to be able to trim the thin edges of the chip, so that the edge will be strong enough to absorb enough pressure to push off a long flake. This takes some practice to perfect. Actually, it takes a lot of practice. But once you achieve this a few times, you get the hang of it and are ready to harness this capability to shape the stone to your planned design.

Next time, we will talk about edge preparation some more. This is vital to achieving effective pressure flaking.

... Coming Next ... Preparation Gives You The Edge In Pressure Flaking

You are invited to visit my web site for more background information and photographs related to the making of arrowheads:

For fully photo-illustrated process information related to the making of an obsidian Gunther style arrowhead, plus photographs of a number of ancient and authentic Gunther type arrowheads, you are invited to visit my other web site: