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  • Cape Stemmed

    From the expanded edition of Jeff Boudreau's "A New England Typology of Native American Projectile Points"(2016), we find the following description of Cape Stemmed projectile points:

    "Cape Stemmed points(Mahlstedt 1986) were named for their occurance in assemblages from Cape Cod and the islands. Typically made of quartz, they are distinguished by broad side-notches, which produce a flared to knobbed base. This stem configuration is a trait of some Normanskill points. Their asymmetry, and wear, suggest that they are a form of knife or graver. At the Cairns Site, Cape Cod, a single Cape Stemmed is reported from Locus 10. Seven dates from that locus range from 2400+/-25 to 1490+/-35 BP". (Boudreau, p. 113)

    This would place then in an Early-Middle Woodland time frame. They were first described in 1986, by Thomas F. Mahlstedt, following an extensive survey of several collections from Cape Cod. That initial recognition and description can be found in this edition of the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society:

    https://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewconte...3&context=bmas


    The following is taken from Mahlstedt's 1986 article:

    "Despite their rather crude appearance, these points are finished tools which differ considerably from the predominate quartz projectile points of southern New England. Distinct morphological attributes of the stem suggest that two and possibly three mutually exclusive, though related, variants make up this new type of stone artifact. Because the variants appear to be related in both time and space, and for lack of better nomenclature, they have been combined as part of the newly defined "Cape Stemmed Tradition". Whether these artifacts represent a distinct cultural tradition or are merely minor innovations within the indigenous industries, as has been suggested for the Susquehanna Tradition, remains to be clarified. Currently the Cape Stemmed Tradition as proposed here includes three variants: the Cape Broad Stem, the Cape Expanding Stem, and the Cape Contracting Stem."

    And here, Mahlstedt notes the very limited known distribution of this type:

    "Whereas the Small Stemmed Tradition is ubiquitous in southern New England, the Cape Stemmed Tradition
    is much more localized and parochial, and it tends to be confined to coastal central
    and southeastern Massachusetts, the Cape, the Islands, and Narragansett Bay. The southern and western extent of its distribution are not fully known at present. Luedtke reported untyped points from the Boston Harbor area which are identical to Cape Broad Stems (Luedtke 1980:39). Therefore the variants which comprise the Cape Stemmed Tradition could be expected to appear as a minor constituent assemblages all along the coast of southeastern Massachusetts. The MHC inventory encountered no Cape Stemmed points from sites north of the Boston Basin, which further suggests a distribution south of Boston. Although the emerging site distribution indicates that they were not a unique group-specific tool used only by inhabitants of the Cape and Islands, Cape Stemmed points are much more spatially restricted than most other artifact types in New England. Typically they occur as minor consituents at sites that are situated today in coastal settings, but they have also been found at interior fresh water ponds on the Mid-Cape."

    The first example seen here, is classic in form, and made of rhyolite, which is very unusual, as nearly all examples of this type are made of quartz. It was found in the first half of the 20th century, near a pond located several miles west of the Providence River, which represents the uppermost portion of Narragansett Bay. This find site would seem to be at the western limits of the known distribution for this type. 2 3/16" long.

    Click image for larger version

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ID:	377178 A quartz example from the same early 20th century collection and same find location as the preceding example:

    Click image for larger version

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ID:	377179



    Rhode Island

  • #2
    A damaged example found by the writer's wife, near the known western limit of the distribution zone, at a site dominated by points of the Small Stem Tradition, dating from Late Archaic into Woodland times. The reader is encouraged to read the MAS article by Mahlstedt at the link above for an in depth discussion of several interesting observations pertinent to the relation of the Small Stem Tradition and the Cape Stemmed Tradition.

    In sites on the Cape where Cape Stemmed are present in notable numbers( some sites have produced as many as 20 examples as of Mahlstedt 1986 survey), small stems occur in small numbers. Outside the Cape, Cape Stemmed are found in smaller numbers, at sites producing an abundance of small stems.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	5A014E37-44A7-4854-8968-3171D4440D38-15705-000006DA5987FCA6.jpeg Views:	1 Size:	174.8 KB ID:	377181
    Last edited by CMD; 07-06-2019, 05:35 PM.
    Rhode Island

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