Sunday, October 23, 2005

A little more about me

I suppose that since this blog is about experimental archaeology, I should tell you a little about my background in it.

As I mentioned in one of my other posts, my main interest is in flintknapping. I began flintknapping in a roundabout way. I had always been interested in Native Americans, especially the Navajo. My grandfather grew up near the Navajo reservation and would tell me all sorts of stories about them. Like many of his generation, he had a large arrowhead and pot collection. I was always fascinated with the arrowheads and how they were made.

One day, my friend Ben and I found several large nodules of obsidian in a vacant lot near my house. They were slightly buried, and to this day, I don't know where they came from. It certainly was not an obsidian source. I guess it could be, but there is a house on top of it now, so we'll never know for sure.

I showed my find to my grandpa. He knew of a man who made arrowheads and large bifaces and took some of my obsidian to see if this man would make me a knife or other tool out of obsidian. A few months later, my grandpa gave me my obsidian back along with a book called A Manual for Neanderthals. Apparently the man wanted to charge my granpa a lot of money for a knife or arrowhead, so my grandpa decided that I should learn how to make them on my own. I still own the book and will hold on to it for sentimental reasons. The link I have posted is to an ebay page of someone who is selling their copy.

I didn't learn much from this book and my first attempts at flintknapping were poor. I started flintknapping during my senior year of Highschool (97-98). I took to the nodules with a metal hammer, and used my Dad's letter opener as a pressure flaker. Needless to say, I went through that obsidian very quickly and ruined the letter opener. I had no understanding of angles or fracture patterns. I would hit the nodule and hope that I got a good flake off.

I've come a long way since then and I have looked back with humor as I remember pounding nodules with a hammer and getting shattered obsidian all over the patio. I am now pretty good and have been proucing larger and larger bifaces.

While my main interest continues to be in lithics, I have also gained a new respect and interest in fiber perishables. In November of last year, I learned how to make cordage out of raffia, dogbane, and yucca.

I have had little to do with ceramics, but recently finished a ceramic unit in the class that I teach which was very rewarding because of all the things I learned.

My interest in replication and experimentation has provided me with many interesting ideas and theories concerning ancient technology. I often think that if I was not involved in making tools and other ancient technologies, my ideas and perspectives about archaeology in general would be slightly different.

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