Monday, February 15, 2016

W is for WINDS OF EDEN or H is for HekIfINoWatItIs!

Figure One. Side A of a 2.8 inch long Hekifinowatitis prehistoric knife form found
in 1905 in Natrona County, Wyoming by George Cobban. John Branney Collection.  
I wonder what Paleoindians would think about us 'modern people' spending so much time discussing, describing, identifying, naming, and classifying their prehistoric tools, specifically stone projectile points? In my opinion, we have gone too far overboard in trying to classify and cubby hole each and every projectile point into a specific projectile point type. And when we can not cubby hole a particular projectile point into an existing type, we just name a new projectile point type. But, what if that prehistoric flintknapper who created that oddball projectile point was just having a bad flint day? Or maybe he or she decided to create something different for a change? Or maybe, just maybe, he or she was just not as skilled as the other flintknappers in his or her culture. Besides, the main purpose of a projectile point was for killing game.  
Figure Two. WINDS OF EDEN, the third book in the SHADOWS

As a prehistoric artifact hunter, I have to admit I am probably the worst offender at wanting each projectile point identified, categorized, and cataloged properly. However, after finding and collecting thousands of projectile points, I have found that it is not easy to categorize and type every projectile point. There are lots of "tweeners"  

Below in blue is a brief outtake from my prehistoric novel entitled WINDS OF EDEN where an elder is teaching young children the art of flintknapping on one of the most difficult projectile point types, a Folsom point. We wonder why there is variation in projectile point types, this may be one reason why.            

The old man woke up from his nap when the sun was starting its descent in the sky. He reached over and picked up his satchel. He pulled out a large red and gray striped rock and sat staring at it. He rubbed the rock between his thumb and forefinger while thinking about everything that had happened to him since he had carried the rock from the canyon. Much had happened in his life since then, some of it good and some of it bad. When the old man finished reminiscing, he gently placed the red and gray striped rock back into the satchel. Then, with satchel in hand, the old man stood up and left his tipi. When he was outside the tipi, he had to shield his aged eyes from the bright sun. He slowly edged his way to a flat boulder next to his campfire where he sat down. Then, he pulled five unfinished spear points from the satchel. He laid the unfinished spear points down on the boulder next to him and then dug through the satchel, pulling out a cylinder–shaped punch made from an antler, a large antler hammer, small squares of bison hide, and a sharp deer antler tine. He placed these items next to the five unfinished spear points. He leaned over and picked up a flat rock at the base of the boulder. He set the flat rock down next to his other supplies. When the old man looked up, a young boy was running like the wind towards him.

Haw! – Hello!” the old man said to the young boy when he arrived at the campfire.

Haw!” the boy replied, somewhat out of breath. “I want to watch you.”

Waste! – Good!” the old man declared with a grin.

The young boy sat down as close to the old man as possible without actually sitting on the old man’s lap. The old man picked up the first spear point and handed it to the young boy.

He t├íku hwo? – What is it?” the old man asked.

The boy studied the piece of chert, his face frozen in a frown as he concentrated on the old man’s question. The young boy flipped the rock over in his hands, studying every surface. His eyes narrowed as he scrutinized the base of the spear point. Between the two sharp ears at the corners of the base of the spear point, the young boy spotted a tiny knob of chert, jutting out at the middle of the base.
Figure Three. Click to Order.  

What could we expect to see after the children completed their "Folsom projectile points"? A few of the points might actually  resemble Folsom points while a few others might not. If we found these children's points ten thousand years later, we might call them Folsom points or another projectile point or even a HekIfINoWatItIs point. 

In my prehistoric artifact collection, I have many artifacts that are not easily classified, so I decided to create a new type called Hekifinowatitis. Figures one and four are photographs of a Hekifinowatitis knife form found in the year 1905 south of Casper, Wyoming by a man named George Cobban. This is not the first artifact I have run across from Mr. Cobban's early collection. He seemed to be an active artifact hunter on the high plains in the early 1900s.

This Hekifinowatitis knife form measures 71 mm long (2.8 inches long), 37.5 mm wide, and 6 mm thick for a width to thickness ratio of 6.3, falling below the arbitrary ratio of 7 or greater for ultrathin knife forms. This artifact’s flintknapper used uncommon Hartville Uplift pretty-in-pink dendritic jasper.

Figure Four. Side B of the Hekifinowatitis knife form found in 1905
in Natrona County, Wyoming. John Branney Collection.  
Some people have claimed that this knife form came from the Allen prehistoric culture, after the artifacts found at the Allen site, south of Laramie, Wyoming, but I am gonna stick to the Hek-if-i-no-wat-it-is type. For me, this is the most appropriate call. The knife form exhibits phenomenal workmanship and fine marginal retouch. The flaking patterns exhibit Paleoindian influences. If I had to guess, which I am doing, I would say that a Paleoindian made this sometime between eleven and eight thousand years ago.