Mineral Resources and the Hopewell Culture in Licking County

Tim Jordan (Newark Earthworks & site manager at Flint Ridge State Park, Ohio, USA)

29 January 2018


Native American uses of flint - used to make points.

Flint points have a variety of shapes and sizes for different purposes/uses.

Smaller points are probably arrowheads in the traditional sense.

Larger points are for larger weapons such knife blades or spear points.

Flint points were used for hunting animals from deer to mastodons and mammoths.

Flint scrapers were used for cleaning animal hides.

Flint drill bits were used for boring into various materials.

European uses of flint - gunflints for flintlocks (= guns).  The flint makes a spark which ignites a reservoir of gunpowder.

Also Danish daggers - need multiple techniques to fashion these.

Also millstones - used for grinding corn and wheat.

Chips of flint were used as road fill along Route 40 (= National Road), which is 3 miles south of Flint Ridge, Ohio.

Lots of uses for flint.  Made into various tools - not just weapons.

Flint Ridge

Getting flint - Flint Ridge has a flint lens - a layer of flint - a big slab - that is 2 to 3 feet thick throughout the ridge that is 8 to 10 miles from west to east.  In the Flint Ridge park area, the flint is a few inches down from the surface.  There are also outcrops with no cover.

Otherwise, flint is obtained by digging downward.

Shells or deer scapulas could be used to dig through the dirt to get to the flint lens.

Hammerstones - granite clasts (small boulders) were ground down to make hammerstones.  They look like cheese wheels.

Granite hammerstones were used to pound flint to obtain workable samples.

Pre-forms - semi-processed flint pieces.  They can be further worked into tools and weapons.

Flint knapping - requires intimate knowledge of the material.

Flint ideally breaks along Hertzian cones.  Compare this to the cones of damage after a BB is shot into glass.  Flint predictably breaks like this.  So do glass and obsidian.

Conchoidal fracture - smooth, curved fracture surfaces.  They are a consequence of breaking along Hertzian cones.

Flint knappers know how to estimate the angle of a Hertzian Cone when flint is struck.

Can control the angle of the shock wave when flint is whacked.

Methods used in flint knapping: percussion flaking and pressure flaking.

Can use parts of a deer antler to break flint along curved fractures.

Deer antlers or copper are used by modern flint knappers.  These are preferred because they have enough give (are slightly soft) to result in flint breaking along Hertzian cones.

Harder objects just shatter flint.

Natural resources are feeding the usage of minerals - flint weapons are used to hunt deer, and deer antler is used to process flint.

Licking County, Ohio is named after natural salt deposits along rivers and streams.

Animals are attracted to such sites.  Deer lick the salt deposits and get other minerals into their bodies as well.  Licking County deer get larger antler racks as a result.

Non-Flint Ridge flint types: Arkansas novaculite, Coshocton chert, and Indiana hornstone.  All three are shades of gray.  The display sample of Arkansas novaculite is black-and-white.  The Coshocton chert sample is blackish-gray in color.  The Indiana horstone sample is gray-and-white with a bullseye pattern.

In contrast, Flint Ridge’s Vanport Flint has red and turquoise greenish-blue.  The latter colors show up especially well after the flint is heated in a kiln.

Flint heating makes the material more brittle and makes shock waves propagate better through the rock, allowing for the development of Hertzian cones.

Mythology & stories

There’s a Lakota Indian story about Flint Ridge - lightning struck a site and the spot had strange, brightly-colored rock that sparked when struck.  Flint could be used to make fire.

Flint sites were places of power.

Newark Earthworks

There’s 4 to 4.5 miles of earthen walls in the Newark area.

Great Circle Mound is one portion of the complex.  It is easily accessed - it’s a park.

Octagon Mound is part of a country club - a golf course.  It has open houses a couple times each year.

Some of the Newark Earthworks no longer exist - they have been flattened and built over.

Octagon Mound has built-in lunar alignment markers - 8 of them.

One needs an artificial horizon for such markers to work.

Example: northern maximum moonrise.  Example: southern maximum moonrise.

Artificial horizons are created by making 5 feet high walls of earth (earthen walls).

Octagon Mound has an Observatory Circle Mound next to it.  Its wall varies from 3 feet high to 7-8 feet high.

The artificial horizon, however, is level.

Making such mounds required careful study of the dirt used to make the structures.

The mound-making people probably had familiarity with the angle of repose.

Great Circle Mound has an interior moat, or ditch.  Octagon Mound lacks a moat.

One hypothesis: the dirt used to make Great Circle Mound came directly from the ditch/moat.  Actually - no it didn’t.

The walls of Great Circle Mound have two to three times more dirt than would fit in the moat/ditch.

A cross-section made through the mound by an archaeologist (Brad Lepper) showed that the mound had layered dirt.  Darker-colored topsoil and yellowish-brown subsoil were used.  Dirt as a building material - different types have different properties/qualities.

More earthworks occur in Chillicothe, Ohio.  That site had more than Newark ever had.  However, the Newark Earthworks have more connectivity than Chillicothe’s mounds.

A modern Indian remarked that the yellowish-brown soil may be representative of the yellowish-colored corona of the Sun. (?)

Octagon Mound is a pinnacle of achievement.

Shaman of Newark figurine - carved from schist, a metamorphic rock, possibly derived from the Carolinas.  When carved, the rock was possibly bright yellow-colored.  It is now earthy tones of brown (= an aged color).  The figurine has copper ear spools.  Copper was obtained from the Great Lakes area [Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near Lake Superior].

Granite hammerstones were obtained from granite clasts in Pleistocene glacial deposits here in Ohio.





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