Clovis and later paleoindians earned their living from the land. From the beginning, early hunter-gatherers had two basic jobs. The first was to secure food, the second, modify their environment. In order to do these things, paleopeoples manufactured tools from three basic resources. Wood, bone and antler, and stone were all used to make several different kinds of tools to do different jobs. Eleven millenia later, only the stone tools remain.
A paleoindian tool kit would necessarily have to have certain qualities to properly perform the job its owner wanted to do. All tools would have to have the following features. The tool must be able to be used to perform the desired function. The tool must be strong and durable, and work well repeatedly under stressful conditions. Further, the tools must be lightweight and portable, and finally the tools in the kit had to be able to perform a variety of functions.
Pictured is a stone tool kit that lives up to these standards. The tool on top is an adze, used for working wood. Based on the Clovis point style, it is fluted at the base on both sides, as well as being beveled at the top. At the left is a plano-convex knife that fits comfortably in the hand, and was used for general cutting and slicing. In the middle, a small "half-moon" knife for smaller, more precise cutting. On the right is a "hooked" pentagonal which functions as a hammer and grinder, as well as a one piece atlatl, the "hook" fits snugly on the butt of the spear and holds it steady. At the bottom of the group is a fluted "heart" shaped spearhead weapon point for hunting. This lightweight, durable stone tool kit allows its owner to do at least six different jobs, anytime, anyplace.
Clovis stone tool makers employed highly developed lithic reduction strategies to manufacture fluted points. Beginning with a large biface that was cut into a heavy duty butcher knife, artifacts were continually flaked from its surface as butchery continued. In this manner, the biface served as a "bank account" of potential artifact blanks. In this example of the process, a stone biface has been made into a three bladed butchering tool. Two Clovis related points have been formed at opposite edges at the base. One point has been removed, while the other is unfinished. The flake scar of the removed tool forms a flute, making the biface itself a large fluted point.
Both sides of the biface show flake scars of the removal of other artifacts, including a pentagonal point on the reverse side of the biface. This pentagonal flaking scar demonstrates that pentagonal points are of roughly the same antiquity as the Clovis Point. As this biface with flaking scars reveals, many artifacts could be made from a single large biface. The economy and efficiency of manufacturing many stone tools by this method demonstrates the high degree of thought and planning that went into Clovis Stone Tool Engineering.
Paleoindians lived in New York from 13,000 to after 8500BP. For over 4500 years they lived among the ice age megafauna. In order to survive, they developed an economy that produced stone tools that they used to secure food and modify their environment. Spearheads, knives, hammers and drills were all fashioned from stone and used to do everything from hunting and butchering, to building shelters and making clothes. Cutting stone is no easy task, so paleopeoples developed methods to modify stones quickly and efficiently. The descendents of Clovis culture created a fluted stone point of pentagonal design that allowed them to make many stone tools rapidly.
Pentagonal fluted points feature a double-beveled design that has opposing "shoulders" of different lengths and angles, and a "flute" that begins at a shoulder and runs along the length of the artifact towards the tip. This type of fluted point, and variations of it, are found throughout New York. Paleoindians were so fond of the pentagonal shape, that in many locations, they cut many large boulders accordingly. Pentagonal points come with flat bases, some with pointed bases, with either one or two points, and still others have a "hook" or "claw" on the side of the artifact.
Pentagonal points, which are roughly triangular in shape, should not be confused with other types, such as the Crowfield pentagonal point, which is older and lanceolate shaped. The wider shape of the pentagonal point had the advantage of producing a bigger wound in a hunted animal than the narrower lanceolate shaped Clovis point, thus making hunting more efficient and safer by killing the prey quicker. Developed at a later time than the Clovis point, the pentagonal weapon point may have been an evolutionary step in Clovis stone tool technology.