Thursday, April 30, 2015
Monday, April 20, 2015
|Figure one. 6.8 inch long bipoint knife form found in the 1950s on private land near the town |
of Farson in the Eden Valley of Wyoming. John Bradford Branney Collection.
What is a laurel leaf or bipoint knife form? In most cases, the name of something adds clarity to the description of that something. In a few cases, the name of something can cause confusion. In the case of laurel leaf or bipoint knife forms, the name adds clarity. Bipoint knife forms were named for prehistoric stone knives that have dual points, one on each end of the artifact. In the prehistoric record, bipoint knife forms have worldwide distribution and are currently the oldest continually made tool form in human prehistory. The oldest documented example of a bipoint knife form is from Africa and investigators believe it is around 75,000 years old.
What does a bipoint knife form look like? Figure one is a photograph of an extremely rare bipoint knife form. This prehistoric knife form is not only a bipoint, it is an ultrathin bipoint knife form. This 6.8 inch long, heavily patinated, bipoint knife form was found in the early 1950s on a private ranch near the town of Farson in the Eden Valley of Wyoming. The original material, before pedogenic carbonate covered it, appears to be a moderate brown jasper. You can see a touch of this moderate brown jasper near the base of the knife form in the lower right-hand portion of the photograph.
How thin are ultrathin knife forms and how thin is the knife form in figure one? Very thin! Figure two is a photograph of the cross section of the bipointed ultrathin knife form in Figure one. The width of this bipointed ultrathin knife form is 58 millimeters and the thickness in the middle of the knife form is only 5 millimeters for a width to thickness ratio of 11.6, well within the ratio investigators use to define ultrathin knife forms.
In my books from the Shadows on the Trail Quadrilogy, the Folsom People made some of the finest bipoint knife forms in existence. The ultrathin knife form in figure one exhibits another Paleoindian trait; overshot and overface flaking, I am fairly confident that the knife form in figures one and two was made by the Folsom People between 10,900 to 10,200 years before present. I can only be fairly confident since this ultrathin knife form was found on the surface of the ground and not in a dated and / or stratified archaeological context.
|Figure two. Cross section of the bipoint ultrathin knife form in Figure one. |
John Bradford Branney Collection.
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thought of Shadows on the Trail
What are some of the characteristics of bipoint knife forms? One of the best reference books on the subject of bipoint technology if titled Bipoints Before Clovis by William Jack Hranricky. This is the only book that I have found that explores bipoint technology in any detail. I will be using the information from his book to go through the characteristics of bipoint knife forms.
Bipoint knife forms are among the oldest prehistoric tool forms in North America. A few investigators believe the technology arrived in North America around 35,000 years ago, a long time
before Clovis People roamed the land. Cultural distribution of bipoint knife forms in North America ranges from pre-Clovis to historical Indian sites.
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As of the time of publication of Bipoints Before Clovis, there were no documented associations between bipoint technology and Clovis technology. Let me repeat this because I think it is an important observation. There currently are no known examples of bipoint technology found with Clovis cultural material. It appears that Clovis people preferred other knife forms, such as ovate or fluted knife forms. The Folsom culture was a different story. Investigators have tied some of the finest bipoint knife form examples in North America to the Folsom People.
How are bipoint knife forms made? They can start out as a biface or a blade. What is a blade? A blade is a rock flake struck off a core rock. A blade is several times longer than it is wide. Prehistoric knappers produced bipoint knife forms from blades and finished them off as dual-pointed knife forms. Prehistoric people rarely used bipoints as projectile points.
|Figure three. 4.2 inch long bipoint knife form found by |
Bob Knowlton with a cache of tools on a possible kill site.
John Bradford Branney Collection
Bipoint knife forms have similar morphological characteristics (shapes, forms, and their grouping into period styles) that were consistent across a long span of prehistory. Therefore, unless the bipoint knife form is found within a dated context on an archaeological site, it becomes difficult to tie a bipoint knife form to a specific culture or chronology.
|Figure four. Bipoint knife form from Wyoming|
John Bradford Branney Collection.
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