Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ohio's Archaic Heritage: Stone Tools #history #nativeamerican

Ohio's Archaic Heritage

Knives, Points, Axes and Scrapers

The Archaic Period is divided up into three stages. These are: Early (8000B.C.E. - 6000 B.C.E.), Middle (6000 B.C.E. -3500 B.C.E.), and Late (4000 B.C.E. -1500 B.C.E.). Sometimes historians and scientists will add a Terminal Stage between (1500 B.C.E.–700 C.E.) This end stage overlaps the Woodland Period. We will be talking about this period in our next series. Early Archaic life resembled a Paleoindian culture as small groups continued to life the Paleoindian nomadic lifestyle. It isn't until the Middle Archaic Period where some of these groups start to develop a more sedetary lifestyle. The change from nomadic to sedentary did not happen all at once nor was it across the board. This change was gradual and varied from group to group, as did the acceptance of the atlatl.

The Archaic people created knifes, spearheads, scrapers and other tools out of ground stone. They rarely threw their tools away when they became worn. Instead they would reshape the item into something else. The transition from Paleoindian to Archaic was a gradual procession that occurred as the large mammals became extinct and the climate became warmer. As we learned in our last post, the Archaic hunters had to change their hunting methods in order to survive.

Archaic tool kits reflect the change in hunting techniques as they now contain a wide range of ground stone tools that include celts and axes used to cut and work trees, grooved rounded stones to weight fishing nets, spear points, knives, a variety of scrapers, as well as tools and ornaments made of bone, antler, and shell. Another distinction between the Paleoindian and Archaic cultures were their spear points. This was due to the discovery of the atlatl.

Axes, Chisel, Gouges and Adzels
The transition to a sedentary life required that the Archaic to develop new tools that would allow them to work with wood. Woodworking was important for the Archaic people because it allowed them the ability to create shelters, canoes and other daily used items.

The flint they had been using to create their points, drills and other tools was not suitable for woodworking because flint shatters when it hits something hard. The Archaic people used other stones to create their axes, chisels, gouges and adzels. Just like the skilled huntsman, an expert craftsmen was highly valued by his people.

Stone axes were very effective on wood as seen by this video.

Three dugout canoes have been found in different parts of Savannah Lake, Ashland County, Ohio. One of these canoes, dating to 1600 B.C., is 20 feet in length. Savannah Lake is located between the Lake Erie and Ohio River watersheds. This find proves that the Archaic people were using the waterways for travel purposes. The Archaic people fished more than they hunted game so it would make sense for their settlements and activity to be located close to waterways.


The change from a Paleoindian point to an Archaic point did not happen overnight. Archaeologists have identified several "transitional points" that were used in the Archaic Period as the Archaic people began to transition out of their Paleoindian lifestyle.

A Paleoindian Spearhead found in Ohio

The images below are of Archaic points that were found at the Falls of Ohio State Park in Indiana. This park sits on the banks of the Ohio River. Many points can be found along the Ohio River. Notice the different sizes and shapes of each spearhead and the progression in time.

Archaic Points
The most famous of all Ohio Archaic Points is a fine example of the Archaic people's resourcefulness.

Known as the Ohio Dovetail, settlers discovered these dovetailed shaped points while plowing their fields. The Ohio Dovetail took on many shapes and sizes. They were usually worn out knives that were reshaped into a spearhead. They are so numerous that they are still being found today. The picture below shows an Ohio Dovetail that was found in Licking County and is currently being sold on EBAY.

An Ohio Dovepoint 

Unfortunately many stool tools and points find their way into the market instead of being preserved so everyone can enjoy a piece of cultural history. 

No comments:

Post a Comment