Planing vs. Fluting

Tony Baker       December 1, 2000

Planing and fluting are radically different from each other. They were executed for different outcomes, by different techniques and at different times in the manufacturing process. Finally, they were executed by different groups and, therefore, are possibly a cultural trait.

Dome and Planing (D&P) was done to rapidly create flat, parallel faces. As was seen on the previous page, the New Clovis people at the Little River Clovis Complex used it to reduce large nodules into flat bifaces. Folsom people used it to create flat, parallel faced, thin projectiles. In both cases, planing was performed early in the reduction process.

Fluting is only basal thinning and would be better named "basal thinning". It was executed near the completion of the point manufacture. I have heard some people argue it was done to give the base a wedge configuration for socket hafting. A wedge shape is not a flat face, which was the result of planing. New Clovis is unique and a transitional artifact to Folsom because it was both fluted and reduced with D&P. Fluting without D&P reduction was done by Old Clovis, Plainview, Mesa, Dalton, Quad, and many Archaic groups. Fluting, as it is defined in this document, was not done by Folsom.

Fluting was accomplished from a platform constructed on the midline of the nearly completed projectile. Since the projectile was almost finished, it was also thin and required a well-prepared platform for the fluting blow. Planing was accomplished by a blow directed at a point between the midline and the dorsal edge of the biface. If the biface was thick, a platform was not necessary. However, similar to fluting, as the biface became thinner, a prepared platform became necessary to hit the correct location.

Technically, it is very difficult to remove a D&P flake from the midline of the preform. A flake originating from this location almost always results in one of two outcomes. A successful channel flake that exits out the dorsal face as indicated by the red line in the fluting image, or a very short overshot (reverse hinge) that destroys the preform. From the D&P platform which is located between the midline and the dorsal face, there are three common results. These are the two fluting outcomes plus a D&P flake that travels the length of the biface as indicated by the red line in the planing image.

The association of D&P with New Clovis and Folsom may have given the impression to the reader that it is a relatively new lithic technique. It is not. The Levallois technique of the Mousterian Stage (Middle Paleolithic) is D&P.

Proceed to:
Old Clovis, New Clovis, and Folsom -- Theory and Summary,

or return to:
Introduction -- The Clovis/Folsom Transition,
Dome & Plane (D&P) -- A Biface Reduction Strategy (slow loading, lots of images),
Paleoindian & Other... Home Page