IDENTIFYING PREHISTORIC ARTIFACTS
It was once said that most of the history of the mankind could be written in flint. When man first realized that a spall, inadvertently struck from a flint boulder, had sharp edges and could be used to cut with, and more importantly, that he could repeat the process and obtain more useful pieces, he became a tool maker. With the first purposeful altering of stone, man began a technology which would last for hundreds of thousands of years and eventually was carried into the Ohio area. Given the reliance on flint tools and projectile points by prehistoric people, sources of obtainable chippable stone were crucial to their survival. There are three major flint sources in the Upper Ohio Valley: Indiana hornstone in southern Indiana, and Flint Ridge and Coshocton in Ohio. Flints from these three deposits are found hundreds of miles from their sources. Literally millions of prehistoric implements, tools and projectile points were fashioned of these three flints. Flint tools and projectile points, along with ground stone tools, and the enigmatic, non-utilitarian group of artifacts generally referred to as “slate” represent the majority of material left by the pre-historic Ohioans. Identification, study, documentation, and preservation of these artifacts are an exciting, rewarding, critically important part of archaeology.
Among the various important publications of the Archaeological Society of Ohio are books on Ohio Flint Types, Ohio Slate Types, and Prehistoric Stone Tools. Each of these books is available through our online store. We have also developed a Simplified Guide to Identifying Ohio Flint Types, viewable here. The free,simplified guide contains line drawings of most of the Ohio flint types and is a good starting point to help you identify flint tools. To learn more, consider purchasing Ohio Flint Types, or one of the other companion books, and joining the Archaeological Society of Ohio.
Are you in 4-H? Then check out the new 4-H Project Idea Starter that explores Native American Artifacts: Arrowheads. This project idea starter is new for 2012, and could help you discover more about artifacts and cultures that existed thousands of years ago! For more information go to www.ohio4h.org/selfdetermined.