Stone tools such as spear points were made through a process called flintknapping. Striking a rock in a particular way causes flakes/chips to come off. Learning to strike the rocks in the best way takes lots of practice and involves many mistakes. Even today, with patience and learned skill, people can make spear points out of stone.
The first step in making a tool from a piece of raw material is to remove the weathered surface called cortex. This is done by a technique called percussion flaking. The piece of raw material is struck with a hammerstone which causes large flakes to be driven off. Some of these flakes may be used later to make smaller tools such as scrapers or triangular points.
Shaping the piece into the desired tool form is the second step in the tool making process. Early stages of this process are done using a hammerstone. For the later and finer work a baton of wood or antler is used to thin the edges and to establish the form.
Pressure flaking is the last step in making the stone tool. Very small, thin flakes are carefully removed from around the margins of the tool by applying pressure with an antler tine. This type of flaking strengthens, straightens and sharpens the cutting edges of the tool and shapes the piece into its final form.
Early spears were different than spears people use today. Today we might find spears with points made of steel and shafts made of aluminum. Early hunters had to use the raw materials that were available around them. Instead of processed metals, they used wood and stone. Hafting is the process of tying a tool to a bone or wood shaft. The end of the shaft was notched or split and the tool was wedged into the notch. Animal sinew or plant fibers were probably used to tie the tool to the shaft.
The shaft of the spear was made from wood. Long, straight pieces of wood make the best spears. The bark is stripped and then the piece is straightened if necessary. This took a lot of work and wood was not always available so early people came up with a way to cut down on the number of lost or broken spear shafts. Instead of having one long shaft with the spear point attached to the end, these early people made the shaft in two pieces. The spear point was attached to a short piece of wood, the foreshaft, which then fit into a longer shaft. This two piece construction allowed the main shaft to fall off after the point was stuck in the animal. In this way the shaft didn't get lost or broken if the animal was still able to run from the hunter.
Pottery is an extremely useful tool for archaeologists to aid in determining the age of a site. This is because each ceramic vessel began as a soft pliable medium on which prehistoric artists were able to create simple or complex designs. These impressions become “fossilized” when the pots were fired, and thus preserved to be collected in our time. It has been demonstrated through years of research that patterns of design were used over regional areas such as the Upper Midwest, and that these styles changed through time. This has enabled archaeologists to establish a ceramic chronology. By comparing a discovered vessel fragment to this chronology, one can gain a fairly accurate estimate of the age of the site from which the sherd was found. Contemporary Native American artists combine tradition and new technology to create pots today.
Step 1 — The first step in the pottery making process was to add temper to the raw clay. Temper is a non-plastic material which is added to the clay before it is worked. Molecules of clay adhere to the temper material and improve the quality of the clay. Temper is added to counteract shrinkage of the clay, it facilitates uniform drying and lessens the risk of the vessel cracking when fired.
Archaeologists are studying prehistoric pots to try to understand how they were constructed. At present, a variety of different techniques are thought to have been used, depending on the size of the vessel. One technique that has been suggested is called coiling. In this method, clay is rolled into a thick “rope” shape. These “ropes” or “coils” were placed one on top of the other and smoothed by hand or tool to make an even surfacelay adhere to the temper material and improve the quality of the clay. Temper is added to counteract shrinkage of the clay, it facilitates uniform drying and lessens the risk of the vessel cracking when fired.
The different colors seen on the pottery vessel are a result of the firing conditions. During the firing process areas that are exposed to oxygen turn reddish in color while areas that are covered and deprived in oxygen turn black or gray. Many pots have gray black spots on their exterior surfaces that suggest contact by a log during firing. Some pots still have black charred cooking remains on their inside or outside. Archaeologists hope that in the future it will be possible to analyze these remains to determine what was in the vessel and how the pot was used.
Catlinite, a type of pipestone, is a soft red siltstone named after the 19th century American artist, George Catlin. Catlinite outcrops occur in southwestern Minnesota, where traditional Native American quarries are preserved at the Pipestone National Monument. Contemporary Native American artists still create objects from catlinite for ceremonial use and for sale.
Step 1 - Pipes and ornaments were first outlined into the piece of raw catlinite, using a stone tool, such as a chipped stone knife.
Step 2 - Once the pipe was outlined, a sharp flake or stone knife was used to cut the rough shape from the raw block. A groove was cut around the desired shape, then pressure was applied to snap the excess material off.
Step 3 - The corners of the block were shaved off and the desired shape and size was achieved by rubbing the pipe on an abrasive block of quartzite or sandstone.
Step 4 - Finishing touches such as fine shaping and design carving, were done with a sharp stone knife or engraving tool.
Step 5 - The hole in the pipe bowl was formed using a chipped stone drill hafted to a thin shaft. By holding the pipe between the feet or knees, and rotating the shaft of the hafted drill between the palms of the hands, a hole was slowly formed.
In the final step, the pipe maker polished the pipe. A wooden pipe stem, possibly decorated with beads, hair, porcupine quills and leather was then inserted into the bowl.