Wild West Yorkshire, Monday 15 November 2010
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HERE'S ANOTHER link with the past from our friends' place in Texas; this chipped flint has evidently been shaped by human hands, probably thousands of years ago. Is it just a flake chipped off during the manufacture of a larger item? - It seems to me to have a definite triangular cross section, so I think that it has been shaped - knapped - with some particular use in mind.
It tapers slightly but I don't think it ever came to a point, so I doubt whether it was intended to be an arrowhead. I'd guess that it was a scraper, the Swiss Army knife of the Stone Age, with a variety of suggested uses such as cutting meat and scraping animal skins. Some of the Clovis stone tools made by the first Americans date back almost to the last ice age. Radiocarbon dates put the start of the Clovis period at 13,500 to 13,000 years ago.
The Clovis culture, also called the Llano culture, is named after a site excavated in the 1930s at Clovis, New Mexico. I expect that there would be nothing to stop later Indian tribes in the area knapping flints into similar shapes but this one seems to me to have an ancient patina to it. I doesn't look like something that was made in the recent past.
However, later Indian cultures did have hunting grounds here; Rheba and Farris tell us that when they first moved to their wildscape ranch at The Lair, there were still traces of Indian camp fires on terraces overlooking the small creek. Small groups of hunters once gathered there as they moved through the area; in this wild-looking landscape, with its deer, vultures and the occasional armadillo, you imagine you could still - almost - meet up with them.
I do know that these sharp, shiny arrowheads actually date from the 21st century. They were given to us by Curtis, who has a place to the north east of Lampasas and he tells me that they were made by a friend of his who has taken an interest in the traces of ancient cultures that are found throughout the area and taught himself to replicate their arrowheads. The one on the left is in glass that is streaked black while the one on the right has black and red streaks. The regularity of the streaking leads me to guess that this is modern manufactured glass, rather than some volcanic variety, such as obsidian.
Richard Bell, illustrator
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