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MODERN QUARRY REFUSE AND THE PALEOLITHIC
BY W. H. HOLMES.
ONE of the most important industries engaged in by the American aborigines in pre-Columbian and largely also in post-Columbian times was the search for and acquirement of the raw material for making implements and utensils of stone. Quarying and mining were carried on in many placss upon a vast scale, and in one case at least the work has been prosecuted without interruption down to the present time. The operations were, in most cases, carried on in remote or out of the way places, so that the sites remained for a long time undiscovered, and the industry and its accompanying arts have to a great extent escaped the attention of archæologists. This work is now undergoing thorough investigation, and will henceforth take its place among the most important achievements of the native races, a work claiming precedence over nearly all others, lying as it does at the very threshold of art and constituting the foundations upon which the superstructure of human culture is built. Within the limits of the United States flint, chert, novaculite, quartz, quartzite, slate, argillite, jasper, pipestone, steatite, mica, and copper were most extensively sought.
The work in the quarries producing flakable varieties of stone was confined almost exclusively to obtaining and testing the raw material and to roughing out the tools and utensils to be made. The quarrying was accomplished mainly by the aid of stone, wood, and bone utensils, aided in some cases, perhaps, by fire. With these simple means the solid beds of rock were penetrated to depths often reaching twenty-five feet, and extensive areas were worked over, changing the appearance of valleys and remodeling hills and mountains. The extent of this work is in several cases so vast as to fill the beholder with astonishment. In one place in Arkansas it is estimated that upwards of 100,000 cubic yards of stone have been removed and worked over. The most notable features of these remarkable quarry sites are the innumerable pits and trenches and the heaps and ridges of excavated debris and refuse of manufacture surrounding them.
Many of the excavations have a new look, as if deserted but recently, whilst others are almost wholly obliterated as if by age. It is essential to observe, however, that where pits are sunk in solid rock and upon convex surfaces they fill very slowly, and that those in friable materials and upon slopes or concave surfaces fill rapidly. The oldest appearing may, therefore, be the youngest.
Several great quarries from which the flaked stone implements of the aborigines were derived have been examined. One of the most important is situated in the District of Columbia, two are in Ohio, two occur in Arkansas, one is in Pennsylvania, and another in the Indian Territory. These quarries cover areas varying from a few acres to several square miles in extent. They are pitted and trenched to various depths, and are thickly strewn with the debris of manufacture, including countless numbers of partially worked or incipient implements rejected on account of defects of texture and fracture resulting in eccentricities of shape. These rejects are extremely uniform in type in these quarries as well as elsewhere throughout the country, varying little save with variations in the nature and conditions of the raw material, the general result aimed at being always the same. It is therefore inadvisable in this brief sketch to describe the quarries separately or in great detail, as other more important matters must receive attention.
Rudely flaked stones are not confined to the great quarries; the raw material was worked wherever it was found scattered over the surface of the ground. The refuse deposits of village and lodge sites located conveniently to the stone-yielding districts also naturally contain many rejects of manufacture. Beyond these limits the limits of the raw material — the rude specimens are rarely found. The main difference between the quarry shaping and the shaping done upon isolated shops and village and lodge sites is that upon the former, where the work was carried on extensively and consisted in securing the raw material in convenient form for transportation and trade, no specialization was undertaken, whereas upon ordinary shop and dwelling sites the full range of the roughing-out and finishing operations was sometimes conducted, the implement shaped being carried directly through from beginning to finish. In all cases the operations of shaping were, in the quarries, confined to free-hand percussion, further and more refined shaping being conducted elsewhere and employing the more delicate methods of indirect percussion and pressure.
The hammers used in breaking up the rock and in flaking are very numerous in most of the quarries; 500 examples, varying from 1 to 12 inches in diameter, were picked up in a few days' work in one of the great quarries of Arkansas. These hammers are generally of artificially discoid or globular forms. Such artificial forms of hammers are rare, however, in the bowlder quarries of the east, since bowlders of suitable form could be picked up on all hands and were discarded and fresh ones selected before the outline was perceptibly or seriously modified by use.
The true quarry, or more properly speaking the quarry-shop, product that is to say, the articles made and carried away—– may readily be determined in each case. This is rendered easy by the occurrence in the quarries of specimens broken at all stages of progress from the beginning to the end of the roughing-out process. The final quarry-shop form and it must be especially noted that there was practically but one form is naturally something beyond or higher than the most finished form found entire among the refuse. This form is necessarily, however, quite well represented by specimens broken at or near the final stages of the work. A most exhaustive examination of the great quarry sites has shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that this final form was almost exclusively a leaf-shaped blade, represented on the sites most accurately by broken pieces, all the acceptable blades having been carried away. This is the blade, varying in size and outline with the nature of the material and the particular end kept in view by the workmen, so often found in caches or hoardes distributed over the country and occurring in greater or less numbers on nearly every important village site. The place of this blade in the series of progressive stages of the manufacture of flaked tools is readily ascertained by a systematic study of the subject. It is the form through which nearly every common American variety of highly-developed flaked tool must pass before its final specialization is attempted. It is the blank form ready for the finishing shops, tested in the quarry shops for quality of material and availability for further elaboration, and reduced in weight so far, and only so far, as to make transportation easy or profitable.
In most of the quarries a limited number of cores are found, from which small, generally very delicate, flakes were removed for use in the arts, and used, as a rule, apparently without much modification of shape. They were probably hafted for uses in which delicate manipulation was necessary. Their production was not an important feature of the quarry-shop work.
The question, very properly raised, as to what we really know of the nature and destination of the leading quarry-shop product, the blade or blank form, may be answered by asking another