Friday, October 28, 2005

The sickly sound of shatter...

Now that the students in my class are getting into flintknapping, my ears have really perked up. It is fairly easy to tell if a flake has been successfully removed. With the exception of a few in the class, I don't hear success very often.

The blue tarp that everyone flakes on is littered with broken cores, their faces scarred by ugly step and hinge fractures.

We all have to start somewhere though.

At least they aren't using metal hammers and metal letter openers like I did. It's been interesting to stay after class and look at the debitage scatter from each student. Errors abound, but even more interesting are the flakes that fixed the errors. On the dorsal side of these flakes that are many an ugly step fracture, but on the ventral surface, it is clear and clean.

I think that while often times many consider lithic scatters to be worthless sites, some knowledge could be gained from looking at the individual flakes to see what types of errors or successes occurred. That's something they never taught me when I was doing undergraduate lithic analysis...(if it wasn't faunal, it was useless).

Of course, when you are out on suvey, who has the time, money, or desire to look at individual flakes to see how things were produced? Most of the time we just record the scatter and move on so that we can get back to Cottam's 66 for a Fresca (some of you won't get that).

Intitially, when the class started, I had hoped to lay out a grid system to measure the types of flakes being produced by Dr. Clark (my faculty advisor for the course), myself, and all of the students. It would have been an interesting test. As it is, I don't think it will be possible in my class, but it is something to think about for future classes and lithic studies.

I could make some general assumptions though, because Dr. Clark and I generally sit in the instructor chair and all of the students sit around us. We could do some preliminary studies of error and success flakes and expert versus novice.


SoCo said...

Aaron- Are familiar with Bill Patton? I think he has a couple of books out. Don Wyckoff (the Paleo guy here and lithics instructor) said he can hook us up with an interview.

Folsom8k said...

I've met a BOB Patten.

As far as a Bill Patten I have never heard of him.

Clark introduced me to him at the SAAs. He's a great guy. Clark thinks very highly of him. Actually, Clark made a special point of hunting him down and introducing me. We were thinking about using one of his books for my class, but it didn't work out.

He is a retired engineer and made significant contributions to fluting technology. It would be great to have an interview with him!

SoCo said...

Sorry, I believe Bob IS his name. He's in Denver and Wyckoff said that he would be willing to give me his phone number and other contact information. Word.

Folsom8k said...

If he is in Denver and Flintknaps, it is very likely that it is Bob Patten.