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.