Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Slotted Antler Points

Microblades in an antler point
Today, I'm working on slotted antler points with inset microblades.  I made most of the microblades a few days ago and now I'm trimming and fitting them into the side slots on antler points.   Two of these points will then be hafted onto arrows.  

Slotted antler points in the foreground and
rejected microblades in the background
 The microblades are all chert, with the exception of a few Texas flint blades.  Despite having a couple hundred microblades to choose from, I'm starting to run low, so I think I'll return to the workshop tomorrow and knock off a few more.  These reproductions are based on artifacts from Alaska.  Microblades are found associated with the antler points, but I've been told that there aren't any in tact examples to get a sense of the arrangement of blades in the slot or adhesives that may have been used to secure them in place.  Slotted points like this begin to appear during the Upper Palaeolithic and composite microlith tools spread around the globe.  Some styles of slotted points or harpoon heads will have blades protruding like jagged barbs that look like shark's teeth with gaps between the microliths.  However, the microblades found associated with this style of point seem to be prepared to create a continuous edge, so I'm trying to arrange the blades to create a leaf shaped blade, with a clean, sinuous cutting edge on each side of the point.  

I avoided using mis-matched material types in the beginning, but once I started running low on suitable blades, I began mixing and matching.  I kind of like the look.  I think mis-matched stone gives the pieces a more random, real world look.

To create the initial fits and plan out the positioning of the blades, I worked with soaking wet antler.  Water makes the antler soft and pliable enough that I can press the blades into the slots without crushing the thin, sharp edges.

The base of the points end with a scarf joint.  Two of them will be secured to arrows.

So far, so good.

Microblades will have a platform and small bulb of percussion at the proximal end and curve, like the end of a ski at the distal end.  To get the maximum, straight cutting edge, the distal and proximal end need to be trimmed off.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. So, Tim, when you say these microblades are based on Alaskan ones, are you doing a Campus core sort of thing? If so, how do you find that style of microblade core to prepare and work with as opposed to things like ASTt prismatic ones? With all my nerdy lithics regards, Liz R.

    1. You're giving me too much credit - I take microblades however I can get them. That said, I do tend to have a little more luck with tabular cores versus prismatic cores. I find that working back and forth across the face of a narrow core easier to maintain and prepare than working around and around a prismatic core. However, 9 times out of ten, my blade cores become multi-directional. I'll get stuck working one edge/platform, so I'll spin it around and try to find a new edge/platform heading in a different direction. I'm still not comfortable making microblades and I wouldn't say that I'm able to jump back and forth between different microblade traditions.

  2. Tim, If you look at the points from Zhokhov Island (ca. 8000 BP) in the Laptev Sea, the microblades do not greatly extend the width of the point. They are typically snapped into short segments, with medial portions used almost exclusively, and the edge virtually straight and continuous. They are consistently narrower than what you have produced, even though the prey base at Zhokhov was almost entirely polar bear.

    Any protrusions beyond that straight continuous edge would cause the point to snag instead of penetrate.

    The specimens from Zhokhov are made from mammoth ivory. See Pitulko's piece in Arctic Anthro from back in the early 90s for some illustrations.

    1. That's a good observation, thank you. I thought I replied to this immediately, but for some reason that message is lost. This comment inspired me to review the reference material and I prepared a new blog post that discusses the width of the exposed microblade edge (among other things): http://elfshotgallery.blogspot.ca/2017/04/trail-creek-cave-slotted-antler-point.html


Related Posts with Thumbnails