In the afternoons we would adjourn to the field across the road from the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory for the knapping sessions.
"Knapping" is too general a term and probably should be replaced with "fluting" because this was the focus of the afternoons. It is during the fluting process of the Folsom preform that most failures occur. Since preparing the preform for fluting takes so much time and fluting only an instant, most of the knappers brought numerous prepared preforms from home. Often when a fluting failure occurred, the preform was not totally destroyed and the knapper was able to salvage it for another attempt. As a result, three to five fluting attempts were obtained from the pre-workshop preforms. As the week progressed, the knappers ultimately exhausted their pre-workshop preforms and had to resort to making new ones. (The image is the classic failure, termed an overshot.)
I don't want to downplay the importance of constructing a Folsom preform, which can take from 30 minutes to an hour. If the preform is not constructed properly, then the channel flake cannot be removed properly. The knappers at the workshop are some of the best in the world so they can nonchalantly produce a preform and make it look easy. The average knapper would have difficulty making the Folsom preform.
The non-knappers moved from knapper to knapper as one walks from booth to booth at a flea market. They would sit or stand near a knapper and discuss the knapper's work or maybe a paper that was presented in the morning. When a knapper was ready to make a fluting attempt, the word would go out and all would move to that knapper like crows to road kill. After the attempt, the gathering would slowly disperse.
This was the first workshop Toby attended and his fluting technique had not been used at the first workshop. He held the preform between his heels (upper right image) with the distal end placed on a wood anvil. He positioned an antler punch on the striking platform of the preform and then hit the punch with an antler billet (lower left). The lower right image depicts a successful fluting attempt for Toby. The big image at the start of this page is one of Toby's failures.
click on the thumbnail size images to see a larger image
This was also Jeb's first workshop and, coincidentally, he also brought the technique of heel holding. However, Jeb held his preform with his bare feet and tied his toes together (upper left). The distal end of the preform was placed against a wood anvil made from a small fork of a branch that was about 1/2 inch in diameter. The stem of the fork was pushed into the ground and the preform rested in the fork. He also used an antler punch and billet (upper right and lower left).
When I saw his results the first afternoon (lower right), I was amazed at the smoothness of the channel flake scar. The ripples were almost absent. This closely matched the archaeological record and had not been replicated at the first workshop. I had not seen Toby's work at that time or I might have noticed that he too was producing channel flake scars with very subtle ripples. I suspected the soft anvil that Jeb was using might be the reason and pointed this out during the paper session the next morning. That next afternoon Phil Geib and Stan Ahler switched their anvil from rock to wood and the ripples in their channel flake scars greatly diminished.
This was Bruce's second workshop. In the images he is experimenting with Jeb's toe tying technique (upper right and lower left). He said he had fluted in the past by holding the preform with his heels, but he had not tied his toes together. This was new for him and he said he liked it.
In the lower right image, Bruce is demonstrating an Old World technique of producing edge blades from a slab of Edwards chert.
Phil's and Stan's (upper left and upper right, respectively) fluting technique is a modification of the technique used by Phil at the first workshop. There, Phil was using direct percussion and could flute by himself. When he change to indirect percussion he did not have enough hands to hold the preform, punch and billet. So he added Stan. Jokingly, someone said fluting is a family activity.
The middle left image is a picture of the holding device around a preform. It is two, grooved half-shafts wrapped in leather. Phil holds the holding device and preform with his left hand and the punch with his right hand (middle right). Stan delivers the blow (lower left). During the first afternoon Phil and Stan were using a rock anvil against the concrete slab and producing channel flake scars with extreme ripples. Based on Jeb Taylor's success with the softer anvil, they switch to a wood anvil and the ripples dampened considerably. The lower right image shows some of their efforts.
Bob solved the problem of supporting a preform by a single person by using a replication of an antler tool found in the Folsom level of the Agate Basin Site. Frison and Bradley suggested in (1982) this tool was a fluting punch that was used vertically with levered pressure. Bob uses a replicate of this antler tool in a different fashion than suggested by Frison and Bradley. He lays the tool on its side and uses it as a "rocker" punch.
In the upper right image Bob is holding the preform, rocker punch and wood punch all in his left hand and is delivering the blow with his right hand. The distal end of the preform is resting on the concrete platform. In the lower right image, Bob has changed locations and is resting the distal end of the preform against a stone slab.
At the workshop, Bob was using a stone anvil and stone billet. Returning home, he changed his anvil to moose antler and started achieving amazing results. He now is able to remove much larger and wider channel flakes than he was ever able to with the harder anvil. Additionally, he reports the new system is much more tolerant of errors. Examples of the new system developed since the workshop can be seen in the lower right image.
Ken came to the workshop a changed man. At the first workshop he used pressure with the aid of his body weight to remove the channel flakes. After leaving the first workshop he compared the dimensions of his replications against the real artifacts he observed during the evening collection session. He discovered that his channel flakes were too thin. His finished points had the same thickness between the channel flake scars, but his preforms were thinner so his channel flakes were thinner. To get thicker channel flakes, Ken had to make thicker preforms. This presented a new problem because he could not remove the thicker channel flakes with his pressure technique. Therefore he had to change his technique to indirect percussion. The upper left image is Ken explaining this discrepancy during the second day paper session and the upper right is some thicker preforms he brought to the conference.
The middle left image shows Ken's preform resting on a stone anvil. In the middle right he is positioned to remove a channel flake. The lower left is an example of his results. The lower right is Ken attempting his old method that is so difficult with the thicker preforms.
Eugene returned to the 1999 workshop with the same direct freehand pressure technique he demonstrated at the first workshop. He removes the channel flake with only pressure. Eugene advocates heat treating because it is common in the archaeological record around his home and because it makes it possible for him to pressure flute the more difficult materials. The left image is Eugene presenting his paper on heating treating. The right image is Eugene fluting with his bare hands. This image was made during the first workshop and is repeated here because it is the best example of Eugene's technique.
Phil did not give a fluting demonstration at the 1997 workshop. However, he became intrigued with the levered pressure technique that Dennis Stanford demonstrated there and returned home and began experimenting with the concept. Phil believed he could reduce the size of the apparatus and improve on Dennis' design.
The upper right image shows Phil constructing a preform. He chose obsidian as his standard in his early experiments. The lower two images depict his pressure apparatus. It is made from the leg bone of a deer and is slotted so the lever protrudes through the bone. In the lower right image a preform is in place to be fluted with this device.
These additional images of the knapping sessions are offered to show other individuals besides the knappers and give an impression of the atmosphere. The last one is of Marcel Kornfeld giving his paper and, obviously, it was not taken during a knapping session. I have included it here because it is the only image I had of him.
|On Friday afternoon
the knapping session was held at the Collins' home in the driveway. The
left image is Mike and Karen Collins standing beside their home. They
restored this log and rock cabin which is now the second oldest building
in Austin. It was in ruins and scheduled for demolition prior to the
Collins purchasing the property. When you walk into their home, you walk
back 150 years.
In the right image, unfortunately, are the backs of Glenn Goode (left) and John Clark. Glenn lives in a suburb of Austin and has provided the Edwards chert for both the 1997 and 1999 workshops. More important to me, he has also cooked the BBQ meals at both workshops. Thanks Glenn.
|The field trip was to a local, multi-component site
ranging from Paleoindian all the way into the present. It is located at
the edge of the Edwards Plateau and is an excellent source of Edwards
chert. Note the limestone boulders in the upper two images. The site
also contains an excellent live spring that impaired the first year's
testing. Note the water in the previous year's pit. In the lower right
the water has been pumped down and Mike is in the pit explaining the
We spent the entire morning at this site. On the return trip to Austin, we stopped at a fine catfish restaurant and, like the night before, ate too much.
Click on any of the following to learn more about the event.
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