GALLERY
OF
ARCHAEOLOGY

  THIS MONTH---THE TIDE-LOCK CHOPPER CORE & KERRVILLE KNIVES, PLUS A CAST OF A FLUTED POINT PREFORM FROM THE SUGAR LOAF SITE IN MASSACHUSETTS.

Removing a mastodon tusk from clear Florida waters.
PICTURE CREDITS
FLORIDA DEPT. OF STATE BUREAU OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH,DR. JIM DUNBAR &
ARCHAEOLOGICAL LABORATORY, CENTER FOR WESTERN STUDIES, AUGUSTANA COLLEGE

    Beginning in the early 1970's I've seen and handled a large number of prehistoric stone artifacts from all over the world through various casting and photographic projects. Some of them have stood out as being especially important, or exhibiting a high degree of the craftsmen's skill or they may have shown some type of special uniqueness. In the "Gallery Of Archaeology" I will illustrate some of the things that keep me interested in this subject---------------The Stone Age lasted for millions of years which represents almost all the time that humans have been using tools. It's literally a technology that has shaped the world!

Peter A. Bostrom

Oldowan flake tool.
IT ALL STARTED
WITH A SIMPLE FLAKE!

THIS EXAMPLE FROM OLDUVAI GORGE, TANZANIA
MADE BY HOMO HABILIS 2 MILLION YEARS AGO

UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, DEPT. OF ANTHROPOLOGY COLLECTION

PAGE 1
A LOWER PALEOLITHIC ANOMALY IN VIRGINIA
& KERRVILLE KNIVES
TEXAS & VIRGINIA
est. 3,000 YEARS AGO (FOR KERRVILLE) &
1 MILLION TO 300,000 YEARS AGO

PAGE 1 OF 1 PAGES
COPYRIGHT MARCH 31, 2014 PETER A. BOSTROM
Hand-held choppers & knives from Europe and Texas.
HAND HELD CUTTING/CHOPPING TOOLS WITH
OUTER CORTEX GRIP HANDLES FOUND IN
EGYPT, VIRGINIA, AND TEXAS

Abstract image of Kerrville knives and handaxe.

ABSTRACT
A LOWER PALEOLITHIC ANOMALY IN VIRGINIA
& KERRVILLE KNIVES

TEXAS & VIRGINIA

est. 3,000 TO 1 MILLION YEARS AGO

    This article illustrates and describes a unique find in Virginia of a Paleolithic tool that is known as the Tide-Lock chopper-core. It was identified, with considerable effort, as a Lower Paleolithic tool from Europe and more specifically, probably from France. The simple explanation is that it was brought to North America in the form of a ship ballast rock.
    Two examples of a unique knife form from central Texas are also included in this article because they do have a certain Old World look about them. In fact, they have been referred to as "fist axes" in the past and are similar in outline to some Paleolithic handaxes. They are also made from pebbles and have outer cortex grip handles. In fact, all the artifacts in this report have these three things in common. A comparison of how they are similar and dissimilar is illustrated and described.

    "---the Tide-Lock chopper-core may be the first example of a documented Paleolithic piece on the East coast."------1991, Mark M. Newell, Sam B. Upchurch, and Albert C. Goodyear, "Tide-Lock Chopper-Core: Discovery And Analysis Of A Cultural Anomaly In The Southern Terminus Of The Santee Canal" p. 43.
    "From time to time, claims are made for substantial time-depth for human occupation of the Western Hemisphere, evidence for which is usually presented in the form of Old World-looking stone tools."
--------1991, Mark M. Newell, Sam B. Upchurch, and Albert C. Goodyear, "Tide-Lock Chopper-Core: Discovery And Analysis Of A Cultural Anomaly In The Southern Terminus Of The Santee Canal" p. 49.
    "On October 20, 1988 a small chert pebble (the Tide-Lock chopper-core) was found by the senior author in material being screened from a test excavation in the southern terminus of the Santee Canal, Berkeley County, South Carolina."--------1991, Mark M. Newell, Sam B. Upchurch, and Albert C. Goodyear, "Tide-Lock Chopper-Core: Discovery And Analysis Of A Cultural Anomaly In The Southern Terminus Of The Santee Canal" p. 43.
     "The tool (Kerrville Knife) has been referred to in early reports as a fist axe, but the thinness of the blade and use wear on it are peculiar to a knife."----1985, Gregory Perino, "Selected Preforms, Points And Knives Of The North American Indians," p. 203.
    "It is difficult to imagine a more useful knife (
Kerrville knife)."---------2006, Bruce B Huckell and W. James Judge, "Paleo-Indian: Plains and Southwest," Handbook Of North American Indians, Environment, Origins, And Population, Vol. 3, p. 154.

Abstract image of Kerrville knives and hand axe.
 
A LOWER PALEOLITHIC ANOMALY
IN VIRGINIA & KERRVILLE KNIVES

TEXAS & VIRGINIA

est. 3,000 TO 1 MILLION YEARS AGO

     Anomalies in archaeology are fairly rare but they do occur, like Marley's ghost, when least expected. The South Carolina Tide-Lock chopper core is one such example. In fact, this European "handaxe-like" artifact was described, in its original report, as a cultural anomaly. This article also describes a very unique knife form, that occurs in one small area in North America. The reason Kerrville knives are included is because of their unique appearance to some Old World handaxes. Although their flaking pattern does not match any Old World handaxe they do have some similar traits worthy of mention.

The Tide-Lock chopper core, excavated in Virginia.
THE TIDE-LOCK CHOPPER CORE
EXCAVATED IN BERKELEY COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA
LOWER PALEOLITHIC TOOL FROM EUROPE

    This picture shows both faces of the Tide-Lock chopper core. It's interesting for the fact that it's been identified as a Lower Paleolithic chopper core from Europe even though it was found on a site in South Carolina. It was discovered in 1988 during a test excavation on a site located in the southern terminus of the Santee Canal in Berkeley County. A thin section sample cut from an edge identified the most probable source for the stone as originating from France. This tool was made from a small pebble by removing a limited number of percussion flakes with little or no edge trimming. It was made from a good quality chert and measures 3 1/4 inches (8.2 cm) long, 2 1/16 inches (5.2 cm) wide, and 1 1/8 inches (2.8 cm) thick.

    The "Tide-Lock chopper core" was discovered in 1988 while excavating a test square in the southern terminus of the Santee Canal in Berkeley County, South Carolina. The excavation was carried out by the Underwater Antiquities Management Program of the South Carolina Institution of Archaeology. The artifact was made from a small pebble by removing a limited number of percussion flakes with little or no edge trimming. It was initially identified as a crudely flaked tool with cutting edges on one end. But it's anomalous characteristics became apparent when it couldn't be identified with any known local tool types and its lithic material was also puzzling. Prior to the excavation, archaeologists had speculated that an early period European stone tool would one day be discovered in ballast stones from old historic ships.

Tide-Lock chopper core, excavated in Virginia.
THE TIDE-LOCK CHOPPER CORE
EXCAVATED IN BERKELEY COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA
LOWER PALEOLITHIC TOOL FROM EUROPE

    The Tide-Lock chopper core was intensely studied by researchers in both the United States and Europe. An initial examination of the "Tide-Lock chopper core" indicated the prescience of microfossils in the chert which strongly suggested a deep-sea origin, indicating a possible European source. Local cherts contain macrofossils which originate from shallow water environments. Further research involved the removal of a thin-section from the artifact and submitting the tool and sample to several specialists in England. The general consensus was that the artifact most probably originated from Europe and most likely from France. Jill Cook, Head of the Quaternary Section of the British Museum, commented that the tool was something, "on the way to being a biface," and that,  "it would not be out of place in a Lower Paleolithic assemblage." So, in the final report, the "Tide-Lock chopper core" is thought to be a Lower Paleolithic biface from France that was deposited in South Carolina as a ship ballast stone.

     An initial examination of the "Tide-Lock chopper core" indicated the prescience of microfossils in the chert which strongly suggested a deep-sea origin, indicating a possible European source. Local cherts contain macrofossils which originate from shallow water environments. Further research involved the removal of a thin-section from the artifact and submitting the tool and sample to several specialists in England. The general consensus was that the artifact most probably originated from Europe and most likely from France. Jill Cook, Head of the Quaternary Section of the British Museum, commented that the tool was something, "on the way to being a biface," and that,  "it would not be out of place in a Lower Paleolithic assemblage." So, in the final report, the "Tide-Lock chopper core" is thought to be a Lower Paleolithic biface from France that was deposited in South Carolina as a ship ballast stone.

Kerrville knife from Kerr County, Texas.
KERRVILLE KNIFE
KERR COUNTY, TEXAS
LATE ARCHAIC
est. 3,000 YEARS AGO

    This picture shows a Kerrville knife that was found in Kerr County, Texas. Kerrville knives are described as a very efficient knife form. Perino wrote that, "It is difficult to imagine a more useful knife." They are large heavy duty hand-held tools with outer cortex grip handles. This type of handle is unique in North American lithic industries. Their development is directly related to a local and plentiful supply of good quality Edwards Plateau chert in the form of water worn pebbles. They are described as excellent skinning tools for large animals and other utilitarian uses. Edge wear analysis indicates that they were used as knives, rather than for chopping or scraping. Kerrville knives are found in the same area in Texas where corner-tang knives are found. They date to the Late Archaic period to about 3,000 years ago. This Kerrville knife is made of Edwards Plateau chert and it measures 5 inches (12.7 cm) long.

      Another unique artifact form that is reminiscent of Old World tools, are the Kerrville knives from central Texas. In fact, in early reports they are referred to as "fist axes." In some ways, they do look more like Old World handaxes than any other tool type in North America. But only in some ways. They are similar in outline and they were made from pebbles in a way that left an area of outer cortex (original pebble surface) on one end. They are also bifacially flaked. But Kerrville knives are much more refined in their manufacture than Old World Paleolithic tools, mainly because of their very skillful use of pressure flaking. Their flaking pattern would never be mistaken for a handaxe. In 1985, Gregory Perino named them after Kerrville, Texas where many examples have been found.

Kerrville knife from Kerr County, Texas.
KERRVILLE KNIFE
KERR COUNTY, TEXAS
LATE ARCHAIC
est. 3,000 YEARS AGO

    This Kerrville knife was found in Kerr County, Texas. In early reports they are referred to as "fist axes." In some ways, they do look more like Old World handaxes than any other tool type in North America. But only in some ways. They are similar in outline and they were made from pebbles in a way that left an area of outer cortex (original pebble surface) on one end. They are also bifacially flaked. But Kerrville knives are much more refined in their manufacture than Old World Paleolithic tools, mainly because of their very skillful use of pressure flaking. Their flaking pattern would never be mistaken for a handaxe. In 1985, Gregory Perino named them after Kerrville, Texas where many examples have been found. This Kerrville knife is made of Edwards Plateau chert and it measures 4 3/4 inches (12.1 cm) long.

      The Kerrville knife is a very efficient knife form. Perino wrote that, "It is difficult to imagine a more useful knife." These are large heavy duty hand-held tools with outer cortex grip handles. This type of handle is unique in North American lithic industries. Their development is directly related to a local and plentiful supply of good quality chert in the form of water worn pebbles. They are described as excellent skinning tools for large animals and other utilitarian uses. Edge wear analysis indicates that they were used as knives, rather than for chopping or scraping. Kerrville knives are found in the same area in Texas where corner-tang knives are found. They date to the Late Archaic period to about 3,000 years ago.

Kerrville knife compared to a Paleolithic handaxe.
COMPARISON OF KERRVILLE KNIFE TO
PALEOLITHIC HANDAXE
TEXAS & EGYPT

    This picture compares a Kerrville knife from Texas to a Paleolithic handaxe from Egypt. Both bifaces are generally similar in outline, except that one is pointed and the other is rounded. Both examples were made from water-worn pebbles and have an outer cortex grip handle on one end. The difference is mainly in their flaking patterns. The Kerrville knife is complex and the handaxe is simple. The Kerrville knife was made with a soft-hammer antler tool and pressure flaker. The handaxe was made with a hard-hammer stone tool. The Kerrville knife was manufactured with a more refined flake removal process that produced a larger number of smaller flakes. The handaxe took less time to make, with the use of a hard hammer, but produced a fewer number of flakes, some of which are very large. The Kerrville knife measures 5 inches (12.7 cm) long and the handaxe measures 6 15/16 inches (17.3 cm) long.

    Archaeologists have to be good detectives. Discovery of anomalous artifacts and unique stone tools can involve lengthy investigations. Mysteries can appear any time, like the discovery of an old Norse coin in a shell midden in Maine or a Tide-Lock chopper core in Virginia. It's the mystery and the hunt for knowledge that keeps most of us in the game.

"REFERENCES"

1985, Perino, Gregory, "Selected Preforms, Points And Knives Of The North American Indians."
1991
, Newell, Mark M., Upchurch, Sam B., and Goodyear, Albert C., "Tide-Lock Chopper-Core: Discovery And Analysis Of A Cultural Anomaly In The Southern Terminus Of The Santee Canal," Archaeology Of Eastern North America, Vol., 19, Fall.
2006, Huckell, Bruce B., and Judge, W. James, "Paleo-Indian: Plains and Southwest," Handbook Of North American Indians, Environment, Origins, And Population, Vol. 3,

RECENT LISTINGS    HOME    ORDERING