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My new obsession-chert

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I was beach combing on a different part of our coast and found a bunch of this stuff.  Some of the insides look like caramels. I love the waxy shiny look. The outside of the small stones has a specific feel and look. I imagine if I broke open some of the rounded pieces there would be interesting waxy coloured stone inside?? I can't get enough of these. I googled chert and wow there are some extraordinary colours out there.

What are they called when they are still in an oval stone form?

This would be what out indigenous (Beothucks-now extinct) people used for tools?








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Nodules... and

That's the stuff. Are you gonna start knapping some points?

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57 minutes ago, Cheshirecat said:

I doubt it. These pieces are very small. I have watched videos though. So interesting how it is done.

Knapping is a cool discipline. Start with bottle glass. It is infinitely easier than jasper or agate. 

Most native tribes abandoned stone tools the instant they saw a bottle or a piece of steel. The only stone they worked was obsidian by the time the Europeans moved westward.

Those nodules are the right type of material but completely wrong structurally. Knapped tools are made from biface flakes knocked off quarried material.

Blades can be made from little nodules like that. But they are not recognizable as a knapped tools. Most people see blades and assume they are debitage from knapping. And they see blade cores and know they are some type of artifact but can't figure out what.

You will often find nodules like yours with long flakes driven lengthwise down them. Those are blade cores. The long flakes with cortex on one side are blades. The most common tool. 99% of artifact hunters do not recognize them and call them "chippings". 

Blades are broken with a single percussion strike to form an edge. They very rarely show pressure flaking or re sharpening. They are just long sharp flakes with an continuous edge all around. Often curved showing the percussion platform on the thick end.

Knapped tools were made from biface prepared at a quarry. Many later points were reworked tools and debitage from the Clovis/Folsom Times. The takeaway here is that little nodules are not knapping material even though it is the right substance. 

Check out a video on blades and blade cores. It is a good way to understand how percussion works. You can use little stones like yours and learn how to drive blade flakes off. Then you can apply that knowledge to a suitable material to make a point (like a bottle bottom or an obsidian biface). 

Agates and jaspers are super hard to work. Only the best craftsmen using the rarest materials can make a point with it. Most "Indians" couldn't either. Only the ancients using percussion techniques used it much.

Many of the agate and jasper points of the neolithic period are flakes and tools made in the ancient times. They picked them up and used pressure flaking techniques to make a lot smaller projectile points. They did not have the percussion skills to work the tougher materials and relied heavily on material they could pressure flake. Which eliminated most agates and jasper nodules as raw material.



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20 hours ago, Bedrock Bob said:

Blades can be made from little nodules like that. But they are not recognizable as a knapped tools. Most people see blades and assume they are debitage from knapping. And they see blade cores and know they are some type of artifact but can't figure out what.

    So my little flint stones that are broken in half, is that done my human or can the ocean have done it? Thanks by the way for all that information. I am still wrapping my head around it.




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2 hours ago, Cheshirecat said:


It looks like natural fractures to me. But unless you can see a spot where a platform was ground and the stone was struck you really can't tell.

Many times weathering will erase the evidence of a striking platform and it is tough to tell if a flake was driven off naturally or not. Other times you see a crushed spot on the core or the flake from impact and it is tough to tell if it was actually a prepared striking platform or the result of natural impact. 

So it is always a bit of a mystery unless you find an exhausted blade core that was used to make multiple blades. They are usually little fluted "logs". 

Blades and blade cores are probably the most common artifact there is. But one of the least recognized. The natives used many blades every day and were always whacking off little flakes to cut with. Kinda like little sharp fingernails. Sometimes they would only take one or two from a pebble and the flakes and the core were nearly indistinguishable from a natural fracture. Other times they would use a prepared core that produced a series of blades. These cores are easily recognizable.

In areas where there is lots of obsidian and high quality chert and jasper the exhausted cores are common. Where less perfect material was found single blades were driven off small stones that had the right shape and a proper core was never developed.

So it is entirely possible that a couple of your pebbles could have been used as a quick blade core. It is also possible that the conchoidal fractures on the face are natural.

Blades needed to be fingernail size or larger to be of use. Any fresh flake with sharp edges could have been used as a blade or tool even if it was a natural break. And conversely any pebble with conchoidal flakes driven off could possibly be an old blade core.

Check out the photos of blades and exhausted cores on the internet. And then realize that these are textbook examples and probably not the average blades and cores.

If the material is nice glassy stuff that is unveiled and unfractured there is no doubt that some native used it to strike blades.it may be impossible to look at a stone and say definitively whether a fracture was produced naturally or by man if there is only one or two conchoidal flakes removed. But in an area with abundant nice material you can bet there are blade cores and blades laying around.

Learn to recognize the ground and or flaked striking platform at the basal (thick) end of the blade. This is the best indicator of a flake struck by human hands. Before they hit the rock they prepared a rough spot at the perfect angle on the core. This allowed the striking tool to have a solid platform on which to land a blow. The remains of this platform is often the only evidence the flake or core was worked by natives.

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