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Ceremonial Spear Points?

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  • Ceremonial Spear Points?

    Hi Folks
    I’m a UK lithics collector and new to this site. Can anyone please help me with more info on a couple of spearheads? Not much known about these, apart from:

    i) They were bought at auction about 20-30 years ago and were SAID to be from the collection of the British army officer Augustus Henry Lane-Fox, known (from his later adopted surname) as the ‘Pitt Rivers’ collection. Both items were labelled as “North American ceremonial spearhead” but nothing more.

    ii) The main ‘PR’ collection was donated to UK’s Oxford University in 1884, where it still resides. But his second, private collection housed at Farnham in the UK was broken up in the 1950’s and much of it was publicly sold from the 1970’s onwards. PR’s own catalogue for this second collection is patchy and goes from full descriptions, provenance and detailed drawings all the way down to entries like: “26 flint arrowheads unknown locality”.

    iii) Other items bought at the same time included a group of small points and scrapers labelled as from “Allegeti Serpent near Scotsdale, Arizona (2,300 - 1,500BC)” and another group labelled as from “Mississippi Valley, Texas” with various styles and periods between 4,000BC - 1AD. These are mentioned just on the off-chance that either location might be related in any way to either of the spearheads.

    [Incidentally, what is the Allegeti Serpent? Is it a stretch of river or a canyon perhaps? Is this the correct spelling, or is it mis-spelled like ‘Scotsdale’?]

    Both of the spearheads are bifacially worked, not fluted and highly symmetrical. The larger one is about 10 inches long and fashioned from chert; the smaller one is almost 3 inches long and from obsidian.

    Any opinions on likely date, culture or origin greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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    Last edited by painshill; 04-12-2020, 05:17 PM.
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

  • #2
    :woohoo: Wow!  :woohoo:  I cant help ya, but Im sure someone who can will post some input soon. Do you own these? Cen, Ks. -Kenny :cheer:


    • #3
      Yep, I'm proud to say they are mine. Rather splendid aren't they?
      I'll put pics of some other stuff in my album when I get the chance.
      I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.


      • #4
        Roger the bottom piece looks to be made of Obsidian, probably from the Western U.S. maybe what is known as a "Columbia Plateau" from 500-200 years old. The top piece as much as it pains me to say seems modern to me, possibly the preverbial "Gray Ghost" piece. It has a St. Charles or Dovetail base, but the heavy notching on the side says modern to me.  I am by no means an expert, let some others chime in, but I am pretty confident that the top piece is not made by American Indians. Just my opinion-Bill. Welcome to the site look forward to seeing more of your stuff Roger.


        • #5
          Roger - I have to agree with the majority so far  WOW :woohoo: The bottem point is a real beauty.  I got curious and looked through my Overstreet Guide but came up nil.  I kinda expected to as it appears to be a real exotic.  I hate to admit it but I think Bill is right, it just might be a modern piece.  Anyway - welcome aboard and look forward to seeing your future posts..  ---Chuck
          Pickett/Fentress County, Tn - Any day on this side of the grass is a good day. -Chuck-


          • #6
            The first one is modern made from a machine cut slab. Looks to lay very flat. The lithic material looks like Edwards Plateau Chert from Texas. A lot of "Gray Ghosts" were made of this material and sold at tourist traps from the 1950's to the 1980's. This looks like a spear point produced by Brian Reinhardt (Mr. Gray Ghost) but could be other as a lot of people were making them before, then and after.
            This is a side view of a "Gray Ghost" you can see how straight it lays because it was knapped out of a machine cut slab.

            All the points in this picture are classic "Gray Ghosts" and were made by Bryan Reinhardt. They were all made of various shades of Edwards Plateau chert. The two longest ones are 9 inches (22.8 cm) long. This picture is from the Pete Bostrom Collection.

            The second one looks like its made of smoky obsidian. At 3 inches it is way to large to be a Columbia Plateau as William stated even though is has the shape. I looked at all my reference material from the west coast where the majority of obsidian points are found and could not find anything like it. I would have to look at the item under a scope to tell if it is ancient. I am leaning toward it being modern, could be made from Scotland obsidian as there is an outcropping there.
            Notable Occurrences of obsidian include Italy; Mexico; Scotland; Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Utah and Idaho, USA, as well as the Cascade Volcanic Mountain range and its associated lava beds, which stretches from Northern California into Washington state.


            • #7
              Forum, Im learning everyday! Upon first glance, flags go off cause Ive never seen a authentic piece like that. Though, there are many things still for me to learn and see. Jack, once again, you help confirm suspicion...I think you hit it on the head. Still, cool pieces!!! :cheer: I dont have an Overstreet Guide(goin to have to remedy that)! And you guys cant find em in there? Somehow Im not surpised! Upon goin and lookin at the Bryan Reinhardt GrayGhost styles, I am leaning towards that, but then again, what do I know! :blink: I know some knappers create these super thin, ridiculously MONSTROUS, blades using machine cut. So, the bottom does appear to be obsidian, Are guys believin that it too is modern? Almost too nice, but some of you out there have some G9, G10 pieces that look "too" perfect, but are very much authentic 200-10,000 year old pieces.
              Still cool pices, and welcome to the forum. Hope to see more soon.Kenny
              So far,
              General concensus:Modern?!


              • #8
                I looked at a blow up of that obsidian piece and to me the edges look fresh, I do not see any mineralization under the hinges. I would have to put it under a microscope to be sure.
                Blow up the picture by tapping on it twice.



                • #9
                  Thanks to all who took the trouble to reply so comprehensively. Just a few more things to add.

                  CHERT ITEM
                  I have seen a number of Gray Ghosts but I'm sure not as many as you guys have. They seem to be all of relatively similar shape and duller coloured source material. Stylistically, I've never seen anything quite like this (anywhere in fact, apart from some African fishing spears). The material is a very attractive pale cream/buff colour. Yes, it's suspiciously flat and slab like, although not completely so. Here's a pic that shows the profile:

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                  Nevertheless, the burden of proof should rest with justfying its authenticity and there's certainly enough doubt here to park it to one side.

                  OBSIDIAN ITEM
                  Yes, it looks like smoky obsidian. It's just over 4/10ths of an inch at its thickest point, so the resultant geometry isn't consistent with it being bottle glass. Here's a pic that shows the profile.

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                  I've had it under the scope previously and there are tiny imperfections (inclusions/bubbles, faint bands) visible in the parts thin enough for light transmission. So I'm pretty convinvced about the material, but that doesn't make it old, of course.

                  Yes, under the scope it's also suspiciously free from caliche, desert varnish or other mineralisation and detritus. Never a good sign except if there is evidence the item hasn't been buried. If this item is genuine (ie not modern), it's difficult to believe it was buried in open ground for any length of time and recovered intact.

                  [I was going to post some high magnifications for reference, but I've just switched to 64-bit Windows 7 and when I plugged my scope in, the software drivers didn't recognise it. Rats!]

                  I think we can conclude that the claimed heritage at auction was bunkum and that suspicions of modernity on one item inevitably cast significant doubts on the other since they probably from the same vendor.

                  I'll put up some of the other items I mentioned under separate threads shortly.

                  Thanks again
                  Last edited by painshill; 04-12-2020, 05:19 PM.
                  I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.


                  • #10


                    • #11
                      Would love to see some material from your area. I have looked at thousands of Native American artifacts over the past 40 years and when I see something that does not fit in with what I know it always puts up a red flag for me. After pondering on your two a bit the red flag went up.
                      The large Edwards Plateau chert blade of yours I am pretty sure in made from a slab. I did not see any age on the large blade in the way of patination or mineralization.
                      The obsidian piece dose not have the mineralization that I am used to seeing. Even if the artifact is a few hundred years old and had been outside there should be something there to see.
                      I go to a lot of auctions on artifacts and always have a 10X loop with me to scope what is being sold. I walk on anything that does not look right.
                      This is a Cascade Stemmed that has mineralization.

                      This is a Alberta that has mineralization and patination. The patination looks like a light milk wash.

                      Elko - Pre bow has the patination I want to see.



                      • #12
                        Good stuff Jack. Now that I look at the length of the second pic I see what you mean. Didn't catch that, thanks for correcting me, love to learn. Hey at least I had the shape right though!! LOL Thanks again-Bill


                        • #13
                          If that point had been 3/4" to 1-1/4" then I would have called it the same as you, but at 3" that was just to big. I was thinking the same thing until I saw the size.


                          • #14
                            Jack - As Bill says - Thanks for another lesson.  I didn't usually take the length of the artifact into consideration until now.  Thanks.    ---Chuck
                            Pickett/Fentress County, Tn - Any day on this side of the grass is a good day. -Chuck-


                            • #15
                              They do look to good to be true.But i know lil to nothing about arrowheads or tools.Thats why im here to learn. lol