Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Hopewell Point Turns Up (or Down)

One distinctive aspect of this year's field season is the true scarcity of stone tools. Of course we have found several triangular, Madison-type, arrowheads which date to the final site occupation (Late Prehistoric period) but nothing earlier except the nice stemmed point from Feature 11-39 described in an earlier post. As I believe I have noted before, the lack of such lithic artifacts from the Early and Middle Woodland period components at Heckleman is informative. I believe it tells us that stone tool manufacture--except for the specialized knapping of ovate bifaces (see earlier posts)--was not a common activity at this site. Not just tools, but flint flakes and cores are also significantly lacking. So, we were very surprised when an exquisite example of a Lowe Cluster Middle Woodland point was discovered by Meghan M. in Feature 11-45.

As shown below, this point is made of a translucent variety of Flint Ridge chert. It has deep, wide corner-notches and a well-thinned, convex base. This point is an excellent diagnostic for the Middle Woodland, Hopewell, occupation of the site. Found at the same level were two or three fragments of a thin, well-smoothed rim sherd with an outcurved profile. A type most readily identified as Esch Plain.

Curiously, this point was found tip-down in the fill, as if someone had shot it downward into the pit. I'm not sure this is how it ended up in our feature, but it's presence does make us wonder why such a complete, still usable artifact was discarded. Perhaps it was not discarded, but placed in the pit deliberately as an offering, or, more mundanely, as a temporary kind of storage. In any case, its discovery brightened up the spirits of our sun-baked crew for a time.