At the first Folsom Point Replication Workshop in 1997, Drs. Clark and Collins brought together collectors, knappers and archaeologists to share their knowledge to better understand how the Folsom Point was made and the Folsom people lived. During this workshop, the knappers viewed the actual archaeological failures that occurred during the process of making the point; they became aware of the 11 stages that defined the process; and they left the first workshop replicating an archaeological process and not a point.
The 1999 Workshop grew naturally out of the first. It allowed knappers to share what they had learned since the first workshop. It was a time to see new collections brought by people who did not attend the first workshop. And finally, new and exciting Folsom discoveries made during the last two years were shared.
|Most of the participants at the second workshop had also attended
the first. Very soon into the first day it became apparent that the magic
atmosphere of the first workshop was still present. Individuals and
groups continued to share and debate ideas without regard to background.
During the morning paper presentations, which were the most structured periods of the workshop, the atmosphere was informal and jovial. Since the group was small, there was no microphone and most of the papers were spoken instead of read. More than once, the moderator motivated speakers whose time had expired by noting they were the only thing that stood between the group and lunch.
|The afternoon knapping sessions were a delight and the weather was perfect. Most of the knappers who had attended the first workshop were present. In addition, Phil Wilke showed his skills this time, and Toby Morrow and Jeb Taylor were welcome additions. The non-knappers, envious of the knapper's skill, walked among the knappers like one would move from booth to booth at a flea market. A University of Texas reporter and photographer visited one afternoon and wrote an article about the group. Even a physicist from the University, who was involved in research in fracture mechanics, visited a knapping session.|
|Abundant collections were presented at the evening sessions. New collections were there, along with some material seen at the first conference. Knappers benefited most from these sessions because they could see the real successes and failures of the Folsom people. Without these evening sessions, few of them could be aware of the important, but subtle details of Folsom technology. A great delight to all was the opportunity to see and hold the Fenn Clovis cache, that was brought so graciously by Forest Fenn.|
|Friday morning was group discussion time. See Agenda for topics. As with the
first workshop, the entire group arranged their chairs in a semicircle and
talked freely without apprehension of being criticized. Ideas were often
challenged, but individuals were not. Sometimes the moderators had
trouble keeping the group on the subject, but the discussion was never
On Friday afternoon the knapping session was held in Mike Collins' driveway at his house. While the knappers knapped, Glenn Goode cooked BBQ ribs and chicken. Around 6:00 we had as fine a feast as I can remember. A thanks goes to the chef and to the Collins' for their hospitality.
|Saturday, the last day of the workshop, we took a field trip to a local site that contained evidence of occupations from Paleoindian to present. Running water and fabulous Edwards Plateau flint probably attracted people to this site. The weather was perfect and the entire group enjoyed seeing the site. More images of this event are available in the image section.|
On Sunday morning a group of the workshop participants1 were waiting at the Austin airport for our flights home. While waiting, the group developed this list of observations about the workshop.
|Stan Ahler and Phil Geib presented a paper that suggested hafting was the reason for the Folsom flute. Independently, Lee Bement developed the same concept and presented a similar paper later in the day. Both papers suggested that the Folsom point, when first hafted, was almost entirely embedded in the haft with only the tip and edges exposed. All of this has been suggested in the past. The new concept is that when the tip was broken, the haft could be loosened, the point slid forward, the haft re-tightened and the point resharpened. The modern analogy is the Exacto knife. Bement further suggested that in lieu of loosening the haft, it could just be whittled away and the point resharpened, like sharpening a wooden pencil.|
Toward the end of this second workshop I began to hear people questioning the workshop's value and searching for justification for a third one. Questions that seem to beg for a cost/benefit answer. I suspect this is natural since the stated objective at the beginning was to discover the Rosetta Stone for Folsom fluting. This has not yet been accomplished. What we have learned is that the Folsom point was probably fluted several different ways and the key to improving one's success ratio is to practice. Just as one does not become a par golfer by playing only on Saturdays during the summer, one does not become proficient at Folsom fluting without daily practice.
On the other hand I believe there have been some unanticipated benefits realized that far outweigh the benefit of discovering how a Folsom point was fluted. For example; the participants have taught each other a core of knowledge about the Folsom point, the people, and Paleoindians that will be spread to their students and colleagues for many years to come. This core of knowledge could never have been captured in print, and if so, a reader would not have been able to understand it.
Another benefit is the structure of the workshop. Papers in the morning, knapping in the afternoon, studying real collections in the evening, and just living together produced this core of knowledge. It also produced a relationship between the participants that is unique. This group of 35+ people knows each other, enjoys each other, and respects each other as a result. I am truly proud to have been a part of this experiment and hope it continues into the future.
Click on any of the following to learn more about the event.
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