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10-09-2012, 09:30   #1
pueblo
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flint blade?

I found this in a river yesterday, so no context.

I am fairly sure it's flint, it looks to me like a butt trimmed flake.

Anyone able to identify it as worked or not?
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10-09-2012, 20:43   #2
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Wow fantastic find. Definitely flint. definitely worked.

You can tell straight away that its worked due its dorsal surface. The dorsal is shown in the first two pictures and represents the outer surface of the core at the time of working. The criss-cross pattern is the remnants of previous removals. In addition, its not clear, but there might retouch present also (can be seen in the third pic). On top of all that I would say that this piece was very likely burned too, but its always very hard to tell when it comes to flint discolouration.

Not only do you have a worked piece here but if there is indeed retouch here it is more then mere debitage, its a tool. I have no idea if the museum will definitely want this but I think its significant enough that you should bring it in to them for a look.

What river, and where, did you find it may I ask?

Last edited by dr gonzo; 10-09-2012 at 21:18.
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10-09-2012, 21:38   #3
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Originally Posted by dr gonzo View Post
Wow fantastic find. Definitely flint. definitely worked.

You can tell straight away that its worked due its dorsal surface. The dorsal is shown in the first two pictures and represents the outer surface of the core at the time of working. The criss-cross pattern is the remnants of previous removals. In addition, its not clear, but there might retouch present also (can be seen in the third pic). On top of all that this piece must have been burned too.

Not only do you have a worked piece here but if there is indeed retouch here it is more then mere debitage, its a tool. I have no idea if the museum will definitely want this but I think its significant enough that you should bring it in to them for a look.

What river, and where, did you find it may I ask?

Many thanks for your reply.

I found this in the River Nore a couple of miles outside Kilkenny.

I have a spot where I often find bits of pottery (see my previous post in the Seen & Found thread) Some of the pottery has been dated to the late 13th century, but I digress!

I was out there again yesterday picking up bits of pottery and saw this in the river and thought it looked worked..

I will certainly contact the museum to see if they have any interest. I have been to them before with some stones I found which turned out to be natural!

Do you think this is likely neolithic? Is it technically a blade? a flake? a scraper?
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10-09-2012, 22:05   #4
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Well its status as a scraper would depend entirely on the levels of retouch involved, which I cant see clearly but I would say relatively confidently that it isnt. As for blade or flake, this piece could be described as either by different people but I think your original title is perfectly correct, it is a blade.

The dating however is another matter. Out of context, knapped stone implements can only be said to come from the ridiculously broad time span of Meso-BA. However, by the Bronze age stone working (ironically enough) is often more amateurish, perhaps due to a more urgent, less careful production as much as a general drop in skill due to the advent of metal. For your piece however I doubt its post Neo so to answer your question, it is quite likely Neo, but possible even Meso in date.

It goes without saying that all of this is moot of course, and I only mention this to discuss the piece with you. At this stage it is impossible to know but I dont think Im way off in any of my assessments

Again, an excellent find. If you want to know anything more feel free to ask!

Last edited by dr gonzo; 10-09-2012 at 22:16.
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11-09-2012, 00:28   #5
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Flint

That's a great little find! It's certainly flint and very heavily patinated.

As Dr.Gonzo says some would describe this as a flake and some as a blade. Blades are usually differentiated from flakes by being at least twice as long as they are wide but some folks also want them to have parallel sides. Therefore, really you can describe this as either, personally I would plump for describing it as a blade. I don't think its burnt, burnt flint actually lightens and the surface becomes cracked, like porcelain. The dark patination may relate to the depositional context.

Dating is certainly a problem. In plan the morphology suggests that this would not look out of place in a Late Mesolithic assemblage and the location of retouch near the proximal (or butt) end would further support this. However, when you look at this in profile you can see that the distal is not tapered and the dorsal surface retains flake initiation scars that run opposed to the long axis of the artefact. In other words, this is from an opposed platform core, not something that screams Late Mesolithic and more likely Neolithic.

It''s a bit of a conundrum but out of context and unassociated with an assemblage it is difficult to be sure. I agree that it is unlikely to be Bronze Age and my gut feeling would be that you are looking at a retouched blade possibly of Late Mesolithic/Early Neolithic date.

Go back and look for more! I suggest reporting it to the NMI.
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11-09-2012, 00:38   #6
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Ha, I just saw who replied to this thread and dreaded what I was about to be corrected on!

OP I was actually going to say that If jimmyarch weighed in you would have your answer for definite but I wasnt expecting it so I didnt mention it, but now you have your definitive answer!

Last edited by dr gonzo; 11-09-2012 at 00:43.
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11-09-2012, 08:46   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyarch View Post
That's a great little find! It's certainly flint and very heavily patinated.

As Dr.Gonzo says some would describe this as a flake and some as a blade. Blades are usually differentiated from flakes by being at least twice as long as they are wide but some folks also want them to have parallel sides. Therefore, really you can describe this as either, personally I would plump for describing it as a blade. I don't think its burnt, burnt flint actually lightens and the surface becomes cracked, like porcelain. The dark patination may relate to the depositional context.

Dating is certainly a problem. In plan the morphology suggests that this would not look out of place in a Late Mesolithic assemblage and the location of retouch near the proximal (or butt) end would further support this. However, when you look at this in profile you can see that the distal is not tapered and the dorsal surface retains flake initiation scars that run opposed to the long axis of the artefact. In other words, this is from an opposed platform core, not something that screams Late Mesolithic and more likely Neolithic.

It''s a bit of a conundrum but out of context and unassociated with an assemblage it is difficult to be sure. I agree that it is unlikely to be Bronze Age and my gut feeling would be that you are looking at a retouched blade possibly of Late Mesolithic/Early Neolithic date.

Go back and look for more! I suggest reporting it to the NMI.
Most informative, thank you.

I will contact the National Museum, and will certainly get back to that spot to see if I missed anything!
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11-09-2012, 19:58   #8
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I don't think its burnt, burnt flint actually lightens and the surface becomes cracked, like porcelain. The dark patination may relate to the depositional context.
...the depositional context being the river bed, and hence the patination?
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12-09-2012, 08:36   #9
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Wow great find P Even better that you report it and other finds you make. Sadly so many don't. God knows what's kicking around in the bottom of drawers out there. Especially lithics. "Ah sure it's only a funny looking stone" type thing. I'm patiently awaiting the day when someone posts a picture something clearly paleolithic in an Irish context. I live in hope. My bets on a Munster find and though earlier stuff would be beyond cool, I'm crossing fingers for Mousterian*.




*way back in the day when I was a mad keen fossil collecting kid, I found a couple of lithics, mostly in context too. Brought them and my scribbled location notes to the National Museum. They let me keep what I thought was the coolest one(little flint blade). Even thought I had found a mousterian example once. Ahh the innocence of a 70's ten year old Turned out I was vaguely on the right track as the chap described it as (IIRC) false levallois? but defo modern human. Later when I built up a small collection of the real deal from Europe, you could see the difference alright.
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12-09-2012, 08:45   #10
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I wonder how many quartz lithics escape notice.
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12-09-2012, 09:19   #11
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Wiki commons animation of the Levallois technique.

José-Manuel Benito Álvarez [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
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12-09-2012, 09:24   #12
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Very much so and other raw materials too. Especially in Ireland with it's scarcity of flint. I've a quartzite Acheulean "chopper" from France, found in a riverbank context and you'd easily kick it up the road not spotting what it was. Even knowing what it is you've to look closely to see evidence of human modeling of the material. About a year ago I read of one group of researchers who've found quartz based handaxe type lithics in Crete(IIRC). Bit controversial as it would show that a couple of hundred thousand years ago, pre modern humans were seafaring out of sight of land, so still up in the air.

It's understandable that flint has the wealth of scholarship behind it. It's a great material for working and it shows the evidence of it's working so well. Holding a stone tool in your hand you can damn near hear the noises of the various strikes the knapper made. It's why I love looking at them. Plus since from the earliest days of antiquarians looking at this stuff, the vast majority were in European contexts that had a ready local supply of the material.

Maybe a left field approach to this? Get Australian researchers involved as the Aboriginal folks used quartzite and other fine grained rocks more than people in Europe, so researchers would be used to seeing more non classical flint lithics, so might have "better eyes" for it? Aboriginal experimental researchers who are also knappers of such materials might really enlighten. The range of tools their ancestors made from different materials is impressive.
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12-09-2012, 09:46   #13
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Wiki commons animation of the Levallois technique.
I've tried to do that. It's sooooo not easy compared to pressure flaking. Needs real understanding and control of the material. I noticed of all the knapping hobbyists and researchers online very few have even attempted the technique, even fewer have mastered it. Those that do seem to "just" aim for rounded scraper type tools. I've yet to see a pointed tool. I've a couple of Mousterian levallois cores left over from manufacture. They're just as fascinating as the tools themselves. In one the final tool struck was hit so precisely that he avoided an inclusion in the rock by a couple of mm. Real master of his(or her) craft.
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12-09-2012, 16:21   #14
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Just an update from a local archaeologist on the flint blade.

He thinks it's late mesolithic. Interestingly, there have only been 9 previous finds from this period in the whole of County Kilkenny.

I have contacted the National Museum and am awaiting their response.

Thanks again for the replies.
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12-09-2012, 18:24   #15
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Quote:
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Very much so and other raw materials too. Especially in Ireland with it's scarcity of flint. I've a quartzite Acheulean "chopper" from France, found in a riverbank context and you'd easily kick it up the road not spotting what it was. Even knowing what it is you've to look closely to see evidence of human modeling of the material. About a year ago I read of one group of researchers who've found quartz based handaxe type lithics in Crete(IIRC). Bit controversial as it would show that a couple of hundred thousand years ago, pre modern humans were seafaring out of sight of land, so still up in the air.

It's understandable that flint has the wealth of scholarship behind it. It's a great material for working and it shows the evidence of it's working so well. Holding a stone tool in your hand you can damn near hear the noises of the various strikes the knapper made. It's why I love looking at them. Plus since from the earliest days of antiquarians looking at this stuff, the vast majority were in European contexts that had a ready local supply of the material.

Maybe a left field approach to this? Get Australian researchers involved as the Aboriginal folks used quartzite and other fine grained rocks more than people in Europe, so researchers would be used to seeing more non classical flint lithics, so might have "better eyes" for it? Aboriginal experimental researchers who are also knappers of such materials might really enlighten. The range of tools their ancestors made from different materials is impressive.
There's a link to a PhD on quartz lithics in Ireland in this (quiet)thread.


I emailed the author and he's more than happy to see it discussed.
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