Prehistoric Lithic Artifacts in Mississippi: The Study (Part III)


Flaked Lithic Artifacts found in Mississippi

Core and Flake: A core is the piece of material from which flakes are removed.
In the illustration it shows a flake removed from the core and flake scar left behind. All of the tool types shown below also have flake scars, but these are related to the shaping of the implement. A core serves the purpose of producing flakes that can be used as tools without further modification or flakes that can be further shaped into formal tools like those defined below.

Point: These are tools inferred to have tipped projectiles like spears, darts, and arrows. Many points served a variety of functions other than use a projectile including use as knives, scrapers, and perforators. As shown in the illustration, the size and shape of points is quite variable. This is partly related to function and style. The smaller two pints were used to tip arrows, while the other three were likely used thrusting spears or darts used with spear throwers.

Adze: These tool vary in shape and size, but generally have a steep bit and are often oval in shape. Adzes were used in woodworking activities, much like modern adzes.

Drill/Perforator: This tool type possesses a long tapered bit that is usually rounded or diamond-shaped in cross-section. They were often used in a rotary motion to drill holes into resistant material like wood, bone, antler, or stone rounding the tool margins. In addition, they were sometimes used as perforators. This would have involved piercing materials such as hide in task like the production of clothing.

Hoe: These tools are associated with the cultivation of domestic plants like corn. Hoes do not occur until prehistoric populations began to rely heavily on maize and other domesticated crops. These tools are almost always made of sturdy chert that outcrops in southern Illinois called Mill Creek chert. A heavy polish or sheen forms on the working edge of these tools. Archaeologist can identify flakes made from resharpening hoes because traces of this polish are still present on the back (dorsal) surface.

Gravers: These are sharp, beak-like protrusions made on flakes or other tools. Gravers were used to cut or engrave materials like bone or wood.

Scraper: These tools are characterized by a steep area of unifacial (flaked on one side) flaking. Scrapers are commonly associated with scraping materials like hide, bone, or wood. However, in some cases these tools were also used in cutting.

Ground and Battered Lithic Artifacts found in Mississippi

Axe: These are ground and polished tools used to chop trees and in other woodworking tasks. They can be grooved like the illustration or ungrooved.

Celt: Ungrooved or slightly grooved axe-like stone tool that has been shaped by grinding and polishing. The bit is bifacially beveled. They are often made from non-local coarse-grained raw material.

Gorgets: These items are ground and polished, and were probably worn around the neck or on the chest. Other possible uses include atlatl (spear thrower) weight or arrow wrist guards.

Plummet: Ground and polished implement potentially used as net weights, ornaments, or weight for bolas. These tools are primarily made of metallic rocks like hematite.

Discoidal: These are ground and polished round stones, sometimes with a drilled center, that were probably used in a game of skill called chunkey.

Pitted Anvil: These implements have one or more pecked out circular pits. These pits are usually formed by cracking hard-shelled nuts and or other rocks to produce flakes for use (bipolar flaking). Pitted anvils are usually made on coarse materials like sandstones.

Grinding Stones: This tool type is primarily formed through the grinding of plant materials creating one or more grinding facets. Coarse materials like sandstones are most commonly used for these implements.

Hammerstone: These tools were used to strike flakes off more brittle pieces of rock. Hammerstones are heavily crushed along used edges, and are commonly made of a sturdy material like quartzite.

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