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Question about knapping materials

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  • Question about knapping materials

    Here in my area we have several documented native mines that provided lithic materials for the tool kit. Just north of me in Berlin NH there is the Mt. Jasper Rhyolite Mine. Extensive archaeological work has been conducted there. There are others in so. NH as well as maine and vt. We also have an extremly diverse mineralogy in the form of pegmatites and quartz of all kinds. I have personally documented 8 small pegmatite quaries previously unknown. So here's my question how do you tell the difference between flint, chert, other types preferred by natives. Flint and chert look the same to me. I have fantastic examples of glacial till knapping materials that are easily found in stream beds but im unable to put a definite id to them. Thanks JP
    Last edited by tomclark; 02-02-2020, 02:54 PM.

  • #2
    I suggest you look in our info. center
    Michigan Yooper
    If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything


    • #3
      We need Roger(painshill) to best respond to questions like this, as he is our top member when it comes to all things geological. I have a geology background, of sorts, but it's from half a century ago, and I never worked in the field. Flint is a form of chert:

      Unless our Info Center has information of the glacial till chert/flint cobbles that you might encounter in northern New England, you will need someone who is very familiar with what the ice sheet did transport from north of you. I don't think we have any experts on that, although, again, if anybody had that info, it would be painshill.
      Rhode Island


      • #4
        to the best of my understanding, all flint is chert but not all chert is know what each individual variety is you would need to know exactly where it came from


        • #5
          Thank you all for the info. I think I should give you some background info on what im dealing with and where. This may help as learning the types of lithic materials is the basis of knowing the tool IMHO. I live adjacent to a 1200 acre trust that is known locally for the massive glacial erratics that are common in the back country here. The reason its so well known is that almost every one of the erratics was manipulated by first nation peoples to conform to either animals, anthromorphic figures, carved with symbols and glyphs, or fashoned into useful objects such as tables and what i think are fleshing and hide stretching stones. These range in size from coffee table to the size of a small house. There is also what appears to be whats left of an observatory at the high point of land. Unfortunately past agricultural activities have obliterated more than half this. I have just started to document these places and monoliths as i have just recently moved here.
          Along with this ceremonial center?? (also located along the major precontact N.-S. Trail) there is evidence of areas of prehistoric occupation, and possible graves covering by my best estimate more than 100ac. These are not contiguous and appear to be periodic camp sites covering a long span of time and are located on the Lee side of the terrain and are on high, well drained gravelly tables close to water sources favored by pre contact peoples for camp sites.
          upon examination of logging roads, blown over tree roots, and stream beds i have found numerous mineral types that do not conform to what is readily documentd or listed as being known to have come from within a 30 miles of here.( Info USGS, USDA soils and mineral survey, US Bureau of Mines,, CDGS..)that is with the exception of the Most common type of knappable material favored by local natives and thats Rhyolite and that is still uncommon. The Berlin quarries are N.-N.E of here and with the N.E. to S.E direction the Laurentide ice sheet took it would seem plausalbe to me that any material removed by glacial activity would be to the E. And S.E. of my location. This factor as well as the nearest documented chert/flint quarry is in Maine approx 60 mi. E.-N.E. of here. Its beggs the queston was this material transported via man or glacier from one place to here? The lithic materials in question are all sizes transportable by man and do not exhibit surfaces i would expect if placed here by glacial activity. Such as roundness and smooth /polished surfaces. BUT im unsure if the fractured appearance is due to extreme pressures of a mile of ice and the materials brittle nature or because man broke them down to manageable sizes.
          IF there are indeed camps and associated workshops spanning the 10,000 years of known occupation (n info. The Jefferson Site excavated by Richard Boisvert former NH State Archaeologist) then massive amounts of materials would have been needed to keep natives stocked. Thoughts/opinions on this woulld be a great help. Thanks JP
          Last edited by Seeking knowledge; 02-02-2020, 01:43 PM.


          • #6
            I believe you're going to have to provide photos. The alterations of large glacial erratics that you are speaking of also require photographs. I know I can explain those curious eratics known as perched bolders(and compared by some to Old World dolmens) as being the product of Post glacial events. It's not difficult to visualize at all. On the other hand, many people without knowledge of how such formations can occur naturally, simply assume such perched rocks must have been manipulated into place by human action. Well, some may well have been. And, even when 100% natural, I am of the belief that such natural features could easily be seen as part of a sacred landscape. My point, really, is that interpreting such sites can be a mixed bag, and, in any event, is hopeless without actually seeing the rocks in question.

            But, I understand you are mostly interested, here, in learning the things that we have experience in, including lithics.

            So, as to actual lithics for use as stone tools, and their origins, my opinion is that we do not have the authorities on our site that can really help you. Though, again, without photos....You might start a new thread with photos of these lithic cobbles, and see if we can ID them. painshill has not been around lately, but he would be our best guy for at least bring to ID the rock type, or mineral type. Otherwise, we just don't have many active posters from northern New England.

            Another thing to keep in mind, if all the area you are exploring is a form of trust land, it is possible that removal of actual artifacts would be illegal. Collecting on federal public land is illegal. That is also true of most state and local public lands. Don't know the situation with the trust land you are referring to, and I'm not accusing you of anything. And the laws are often different for mineral collecting rather then artifact collecting.
            Rhode Island


            • #7
              Photos in a few hrs. The items in question come from privately owned land bordering the trust. There is 400 ac that is under development pressure. It has been heavily denuded of timber and access roads are now roughed in for furure improvemet and the construction of small camps for NY tourists to rent. I have permission to hike, collect, photograph, and catalog anything i deem of possible intrest. Not all artifacts are collected here and come from multiple sources. None of which are lands held in public trusts. The trust land in which in referencing is only a small geographic area in the scheme of things and it is not a public trust but a privately held one. Im allowed to hike, photograph, surface collect anything i deem of interest, document,and catalog items and possible areas of interest as long as the information is presented to the trust as part of the increasing interest and scrutiny this site has. Its been known and documented at various times in post settlement history and is locally famous so my assertion that this site contains at the least manipulated monolithic erratics is not a anything new or revealing. Im simply gathering a bit more information to add to what is already established historical fact. I will start a new thread with pics of some of the rocks i collected from local streams to at the very least get an idea if they are possibly natural cobblestone or not. Thanks for the input. JP


              • #8
                Also to note- as stated previously i do not remove anything unless it is in eminent danger of destruction. It is my firm belief that photographing item in place and leaving items in place is a hundred times more beneficial for furure collection of knowledge than removing them and loosing the historical context in which they found. Im not a collector and im limited on space to house Artifacts as it is. BTW Ive been doing research in this forums here and the information is fantastic! My compliments to all on a fantastic site. Im also in contact with the new state Archaeologist as well as the local university anthropological dept. In the event i locate verifiable settlements or potential graves. Which i think i found just a winter set in. Waiting for thaw to investigate further. JP
                Last edited by Seeking knowledge; 02-02-2020, 05:33 PM.


                • #9
                  Well apparently my tub of materials i wanted to post is on the bottom of the stack.. .naturally! So forgoing this topic until i unbury it. So posting in artifact id instead. JP