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Manufacture of Stone Arrow-Points
By W.H. Holmes
Part 2 of 4

When detached fragments, bowlders, and nodules were not sufficiently plentiful or ceased to be desirable for working, the rocks in place were attacked, bowlders were removed from their beds, splinters were broken from exposed masses of rock, and ledges were followed deep into the earth.

In Arkansas there are pits dug in the solid rock—a heavily bedded novaculite—to the depth of twenty-five feet and having a width of one hundred feet or more. In Ohio and in other States similar phenomena have been observed.

In the District of Columbia extensive quarries were opened in the gravel-bearing bluffs, and millions of quartzite and quartz bowlders were secured and worked.

The extent of this native quarrying industry has not until recently been realized. Such work has been considered beyond the capacity of savages, and when the ancient pits were observed they were usually attributed to the gold-hunters of early days, and in the South are still known as Spanish diggings. From Maine to Oregon and from Alaska to Peru the hills and mountains are scarred with pits and trenches. The ancient methods of quarrying are not well known, and up to the present time no tools have been discovered save rude hammers of stone improvised for the purpose. Picks of bone or antler and pikes of wood were probably employed. Associated with these pittings are ample evidences of the object of their excavation. Great heaps or encircling ridges of refuse, in cases containing hundreds of tons of the refuse of manufacture—fragments, flakes, failures, and tools broken in use and deserted when the work ended—are found. A study of this refuse usually indicates clearly and fully the nature and extent of the work carried on.

The raw material having been secured, the work of shaping began. The steps in this work were in all cases essentially the same, although they varied in detail with the material, the form to be produced, and the skill of the workmen concerned. Obsidian and other easily flaked stones were broken into masses, so shaped as to facilitate the subsequent removal by special processes of flakes for knives and projectile points. These masses became the cores so frequently found among our ancient remains, and were drawn upon when occasion required. In other cases simple flakes suited for subsequent specialization were made or were selected from the refuse on the site of supply and carried away; and again suitable pieces were selected and reduced on the spot to a form approximating the final object. In all of our great quarries this latter appears to have been the leading feature of the work done. These flakes and roughed-out forms were the blanks, tested for material and reduced to approximate form, and to a size convenient for transportation, to be chipped into specific shapes when and where it suited the purposes of the possessor. In case of many of the great quarries little or no finishing was done upon the sites.

In most cases the shaping operations carried on in the quarry can be followed out with reasonable certainty. On all sites where the raw material was extensively worked, series of forms can be secured illustrating every stage of the morphology. These series begin with the amorphous mass or natural shape, and pass through a succession of modifications, ending in the rude blade or blank. The making and collecting of flakes and fragments to be carried away in an un-shaped condition, although undoubtedly carried on in all quarries and upon sites of other sources of raw material, leave little or no refuse that can be studied to advantage.