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Manufacture of Stone Arrow-Points
By W.H. Holmes
Part 3 of 4

Large masses in quarries or on simple shop sites were reduced by means of rude hammers with or without hafting. Fire was often employed as an auxiliary in this work. Approximate masses were reduced to more definite shapes by a succession of free-hand blows. The first step in the shaping of an implement from a bowlder is illustrated in Fig. 6. In this work the free-hand blow is employed for the reason that no other method would be efficacious. Fig. 7 illustrates the position in which the partially shaped mass must be held after its margins have become too sharp to be split by a blow directly upon the edge.

When the incipient implement became too attenuated or fragile to withstand the blows necessary to flaking without imminent danger of breaking, other methods had to be employed. The statement has been made by some writers that arrow-points are produced by simple percussion, the hammers being reduced in size to correspond with the increasing fragility of the object worked. This process, however, must be exceptional.

Instances are recorded in which indirect percussion—that is, the use of a mallet and punch—was employed in removing flakes intended to be shaped by pressure. Two varieties of indirect percussion are illustrated in Figs. 8 and 9. The first is practiced by the Wintuns

Fig. 6.—Free hand or direct percussion;
first step in shaping an implement from a bowlder.
Fig. 7.—Direct percussion;
manner of striking where the edge is sharp.
Fig. 8.—Indirect percussion, as practiced by the Wintuns,
and described by B. B. Redding.
Fig. 9.—Indirect percussion, two persons being concerned;
practiced by the Apaches, according to George Catlin.

of California and other tribes. The drawing is made from a very careful description by B. B. Redding. The second is derived from the observations of George Catlin. According to Catlin, the point is sometimes carried to a finish by the indirect stroke, two persons being employed in the operation, as shown in Fig. 9. As a rule, however, the method of manipulation was changed at the proper stage from percussion to pressure.

The blanks from the quarries—the roughed-out blades and selected flakes, as well as similar products from all varieties of sites—had acquired such outline, attenuation, sharpness of edge, and bevel when the change from percussion to pressure took place that the gentler method would be operative. It is probable that in many cases the work was transferred from operatives skilled in the blocking-out to others especially skilled in shaping by pressure; but it is also pretty certain that nearly every hunter was able, in case of necessity, to shape his own arrow-points, howsoever roughly, from the raw material.