Sunday, July 26, 2009

Exotic material

The photograph below does not do justice to the exquisite quality of yellow jasper from which this corner-notched projectile point was made, nor to the delicate percussion flaking that an Indian used to make it thousands of years ago.

Jasper--chemically similar to flint, chalcedony, and chert--is a sedimentary material comprised of silicates from the shells of microorganisms. In some materials, with magnification, one can see individual radiolaria, sponge spicules, and other fossils. The closest known sources for this material are in southeastern Pennsylvania. This particular piece came from the plowzone in Unit 48 at Port Tobacco.

Although made to tip a projectile, the point appears to have been adapted for use as a hafted knife, probably because wear, repair,and breaks had made it too asymmetrical and thick to meet the hafting and aerodynamic demands of a projectile. As a projectile, it was large. Even worn and resharpened, the point is 2. 4" (60 mm) long, 1.2" (31 mm) wide, and 0.3" (8 mm) thick.

Side-notched projectile points in this region typically are attributed to the Early and Middle Archaic periods, which is to say, in excess of 6,000 years old.


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