Stage 11--Margin Polishing

Stage 11 was the final stage in the manufacture of a Folsom Point and, therefore, points found at the completion of this stage are finished. Stage 11 was so simple that it is rare to find a point in the archaeological record that was lost during the execution of this stage.

Stage 11 consisted of smoothing the sharp, lateral edges by grinding1 (rubbing) the edges on another stone. This grinding was performed from the base (proximal end) to the widest portion of the point which was usually about two-thirds of the distance toward the tip (distal end). Often the proximal edge (base) of the point was also ground.

This lateral and sometimes proximal edge grinding is not unique to the Folsom Point. It is a characteristic of all Paleoindian points and early archaic points from the Western States. The common explanation for its presence is it dulled the sharp edges so they would not cut the sinew (string) that attached the point to the shaft. If this theory is correct, it would imply that the Folsom Point was hafted for about two-thirds of its length and only the distal one-third of the point would have extended beyond the shaft. However, the archaeological record suggests there is a problem with this theory.

Consider the points illustrated on this page. They were all found in campsites and not in kill sites. They do not represent two-thirds of the point, but generally something less. In these sites and other Paleoindian campsites (not just Folsom sites) the number of bases generally far outnumber the tips (distal fragments.) An explanation for this distribution is that the projectiles were broken away from the campsite. The tips were left in the field and the hunter returned to the campsite to remove the bases from the shafts. The contradicting fact is that most of the bases found in the campsites represent about one-third to one-half of the total length of the point. This distance most likely represents the extent of the hafting. So this contradiction begs the obvious question, "why were the points ground beyond where they were to be hafted?".

Another less popular theory attempting to explain the purpose of the grinding was that it was done to shave the width of the base so the point could be firmly inserted into a socket type haft. The problem with this theory is that it dictates a point with a manufactured width of extremely close tolerances. This would be difficult to achieve on a routine bases. If I had to choose between this theory and the first, I would choose this one. However, I really am not satisfied with it, either, but I do not have a better one to offer.


Stage-11 Image-1 This is a proximal fragment of a finished Folsom point (end of Stage 11) made from Cumbres Pass chert. The post fluting retouch (Stage 10) produced about 16 flake scars per inch and the lateral edges were ground beyond the break. The proximal edge was also ground. The point broke on impact and an impact scar is visible in the left image. This is the first Folsom Point I found and therefore it is also my favorite.

Stage-11 Image-2 This is a proximal fragment of a finished point made from a brown jasper. The post fluting retouch produced about 20 flake scars per inch and the lateral edges were ground beyond the break. The proximal edge was not ground. The point broke on impact and an impact scar is visible in the right image.

Stage-11 Image-3 This is a proximal fragment of a finished point made from Alibates chert. The post fluting retouch produced about 13 flake scars per inch and the lateral edges were ground beyond the break. The proximal edge was lightly ground. The point broke on impact and a impact scar is barely visible in the left side of the right image. Also, the ear on the right side (left image) is missing.

Stage-11 Image-4 This is a split proximal fragment of a finished(?) Folsom point made from Lake Valley chert. The right ear (left image) and a large portion of that side of the base is missing. The left ear (left image) is intact. The location where the two images appear to be "kissing" is the only portion of the lateral edge for that side. The post fluting retouch produced about 18 flake scars per inch, 16 on one face and 20 on the other.

This point is also problematic. The entire left lateral edge (left image) is lightly ground except for the last 0.5 cm. of the distal end. This is what I would expect. The problem is the "kissing" right edge (left image) is NOT ground. The only way I can explain one edge being ground and the other not, is to suggest the destruction of the point occurred between the grinding of the two lateral edges. The odds of destroying the point during the routine process of grinding the lateral edges is extremely low. Additionally, the morphology of the failure is very strange. All this leads me to suggest this point was purposely destroyed before it was finished (ground on both edges.) The reader should also notice the negative knee in the break on the distal portion of the point and then re-read Stage 10.

Stage-11 Image-6 This is a proximal fragment of a finished point made from obsidian. Obsidian Folsom points are rare or nonexistent in most states, however, in New Mexico around Albuquerque they are quite common. Notice the point is only fluted on one side which is uncommon, but not rare. The post fluting retouch produced about 15 flake scars per inch on the fluted side. The non-fluted side has a different type of retouch. The lateral edges and proximal edges are heavily ground. The grinding on the lateral edges extends beyond the break.

Stage-11 Image-5 This is another proximal fragment of a finished, obsidian point. The ear is broken on the left edge and the one on the right is missing (left image). The post fluting retouch produced about 17 flake scars per inch. This point is very informative about the hafting length. It has been resharpened by a right hand bevel. This right hand bevel begins about 0.4 cm. down from the distal edge. Therefore, the haft had to end before the beveling began.

I saved this point for last because it is the exception to the rule. It was NOT ground on the lateral or proximal edges. So Stage 11 was omitted in the construction of this point. The reader may ask, "how do I know the point was finished?". The answer is because it was resharpened. Therefore, it was hafted, used, broken, resharpened and broken again.


Proceed to the Channel Flakes or return to the Folsom Point Cover Page or Paleoindian & Other... Home Page


Additional Information

1 I have chosen to used the word "grinding" in lieu of "marginal polishing". I have use "grinding" my entire life and found this page impossible to write using the words marginal polishing. I used it in the title to be consistent with the primary source FOLSOM TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY at the Hanson Site, Wyoming by George C. Frison and Bruce A. Bradley.