Flint Knapping Tools

Deer Antler Billets

Flint Knapping Tools

Artifacts which were used in the manufacture of chipped flint items are often found on archaeological sites. Other than hammerstones, the most common items include antler batons or billets for percussion chipping, and bone or antler tools for pressure chipping. These are found throughout most sections of Oklahoma and may occur from any time period.

Flint knapping generally involves two methods which are termed percussion chipping and pressure chipping. In percussion chipping the core or block of flint is hit with a hammer-like blow to detach the flint flake. This is usually done with a stone hammer to rough out a preform or quarry block that may be made into some specific artifact. This rough preform will later be thinned and shaped by the use of a bone or wood baton or billet which will produce a thinner and flatter flake than a stone hammer would produce. A heavy section of deer or elk antler makes a suitable baton or bone hammer for percussion chipping and such specimens are often found on archaeological sites. These sections of antler, sometimes called "tapping tools" should show evidence of wear from use as a striking hammer for knapping. Since the Indians often used antler for other purposes, in making handles, for example, evidence of wear is important in identifying knapping tools. Examples of such tools made of deer antler are illustrated in Figure 28a-b.

 

 

In the case of pressure chipping, the flake of flint is detached by applied pressure or force rather than by the use of a hammerstone or billet. This is usually done with a piece of bone or antler which serves as an applicator for applying the pressure. The bone tool is placed on the preform edge which serves as the striking platform, and pressure is applied by hand to remove the flake. Since the bone pressure tool is placed at the exact point where one wants to remove the flake, it provides better control over the flake removal than is possible with a hammerstone or baton. Pressure chipping is normally used for making arrow points, sharpening edges, cutting notches, producing serrations, or similar fine flaking that may be desired. Pressure flaking tools are commonly termed "flakers or flaking tools" when reported from excavations. One common form is a flaker made from the ulna of the deer (Figure 28c-d). The U-shaped socket of the ulna provides an excellent finger hold when using this tool for chipping. Other flakers were made from deer antler tines, for they are ready for use as a flaker without modification. The tips of the antler will display wear and abrasions when they were used as flaking tools. Flakers were also made from various portions of cut bone or antler and often resemble bone awls except for the blunted tip. The tool became blunted and marred from contact with the flint in use as a pressure applicator, and this should be evident for proper identification of the flaking tool (Figure 28e).

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