Thursday, July 21, 2016

W is for WINDS OF EDEN, F is for Flat Top Chalcedony!

Figure One. 1.8 inch long Midland dart point found September 2, 1997
on private land in the approximate area of Flat Top Butte. Made from pale
red Flat Top Chalcedony. Age 10,900 to 10,200 years old. John Branney Coll.   
I took the book passage below from my prehistoric thriller WINDS OF EDEN, the third book and finale of the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY. This particular passage of the book illustrates the important prehistoric tradition of flintknapping. In this scene, a grandfather is teaching his grandchildren the art of making projectile points from rock. There is no evidence that North American Paleoindians had written languages, therefore, important traditions such as flintknapping were passed from generation to generation through "show and tell". I will rejoin you on the other side of the book passage.  

The old man motioned for his two young grandchildren to sit down in front of him, close enough to see, but far enough away to avoid flying pieces of sharp rock. The old man readjusted the flat rock with the tip of the spear point. He then carefully positioned the groove in the antler punch with the tiny knob at the base of the spear point. When everything was to his liking, the old man picked up the heavy antler hammer and took a couple of practice swings in the air. The old man then held the antler hammer above the antler punch and swung down with enough force to transfer energy from the antler punch through the rock. The rock popped loudly and when the old man lifted up the spear point for the children to see, a flute or groove ran longitudinally up the entire length of the spear point. The children laughed as if it they had just witnessed great magic. Their eyes were as big as the moon as they looked around at each other. The old man gazed around at the children, smiling. The old man was proud of the flute in the spear point and relieved that he could still do it. However, what made him the happiest was passing down the fluting tradition to the next generation of the tribe.


 WINDS OF EDEN and the other two books in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY chronicled the  prehistoric adventures of a band of paleoindians who trekked across a future Texas to a future northern Colorado
around 10,700 years ago. On their way from Texas to northern Colorado, these prehistoric explorers encountered different groups of humans, both good and bad; fierce mammals, some now extinct; and acts of nature that would frighten to death most of us modern-day wimps

The SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY featured a paleoindian named Chayton from an actual prehistoric culture called Folsom. On the adventure northward, Chayton brought with him stone tools made from Alibates Chert from a true-to- life prehistoric rock quarry in Texas. When I found a paleoindian stone tool in 2010 made from Alibates Chert on a prehistoric campsite in northern Colorado, I had to write the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY , to tell my story about how that stone tool ended up there. I now call this prehistoric site in northern Colorado the Shadows on the Trail prehistoric site in honor of my trilogy.

Paleoindians were nomads with an objective for survival. They followed the migration of the bison herds, the heart of their survival . Since paleoindians did travel and trade, it is not uncommon to find artifacts made from rock types that originated in other  regions of the country, such as the Alibates Chert I found in northern Colorado. During their relatively short lifetimes, Paleoindians used a lot of rock for knapping tools and projectile points Since, paleoindians couldn't possibly haul all the rock they needed around with them from place to place, they had to identify new sources of rock as they moved around the country. As I previously mentioned, the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY ended up in northern Colorado, very near another documented prehistoric rock quarry. In my books, I never had Chayton and the Folsom People visit the prehistoric quarry twenty miles away from my Shadows on the Trail prehistoric site, but I have found quite a lot of the rock from this prehistoric quarry on the Shadows on the Trail site. The rock type found in this prehistoric quarry is called Flat Top Chalcedony and here is a little bit of information about it. I photographed the source for Flat Top Chalcedony in Figure Three.  

Figure Three. Prehistoric quarry Flat Top Butte in northern Colorado on August 2001.

Flat Top Chalcedony was named for the prehistoric rock quarries at Flat Top Butte in Logan County, Colorado, Flat Top Chalcedony originates in the Horsetail Member of the White River Formation of Oligocene age where it formed in cavities in the fresh water limestones.
Figure Four. 1.2 inch long Folsom dart point found
at the Shadows on the Trail site on August 30, 2006.
Made from Flat Top Chalcedony. John Branney Coll.

Flat Top Chalcedony is a purple/lavender, pale red, tan or white silicon based rock found in abundance in northeastern Colorado. Anyone who has artifact hunted in northeastern Colorado, the panhandle of Nebraska, and southeastern Wyoming has found chipping debris made from Flat Top Chalcedony. It is arguably the most abundant prehistoric raw material found in northeastern Colorado.
Figure Five. 3.3 inch long Paleoindian blade made from a lavender-colored
Flat Top Chalcedony and recovered on private land in northern Colorado
on May 24, 2003. John Branney Collection.       

From a mineralogical perspective, chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline or fine-grained variety of quartz that has a waxy luster. It is often times transparent or translucent, but can be opaque. It varies in color from white to gray to blue to brown to red and other shades. It occurs most frequently as rounded or imitative forms, or as linings in rock cavities.

Chalcedony is a general term and specific names are used for specifically colored varieties, such as Flat Top Chalcedony. Some experts believe chalcedony is an independent mineral from quartz while other experts regard chalcedony as a mixture of quartz and opal (hydrous silica gel). Other examples of specific types of chalcedony include agate, jasper, and onyx.

So, there you have it, a little bit of information on chalcedony, Flat Top Chalcedony, and of course, my books. Click on the links below my book covers to find out more information on how to read AND join the adventure SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY.