In our last installment, we pointed out that fluting different areas of a stone point results in finished tools that will perform different tasks. Fluted bases enable a point to be hafted to another object, while fluted tips are useful to bring down prey quickly, or modify the environment, i.e. (cutting, gouging and digging). Paleo toolmakers also made points with fluted centers. What would be the advantage of centralized fluting?
There are three and probably more reasons for fluting the center of a point. Axes that are centrally fluted can be hafted to a shaft in balance on both ends, and thus work better and stay attached longer to a wood or bone handle than a similar tool that does not have an even distribution of weight on its shaft. This precise center of gravity also allows more accuracy and balanced spin if the axe is thrown at a target, (a charging bear for example).
A fluted center can also be formed in the shape of a small bowl to hold paint, medicine, beads or any other small object that its user wishes to work with. The amount of substance to be used is now readily available in a prescribed volume, useful when only a small measure of something is needed. And of course, a center flute can be excised in the shape of another artifact as shown here, the center fluting on the second point is also pentagonal in shape.
Point one is a small hammerstone with a bowl carved in the middle. The bottom of the artifact has been ground flat to keep the bowl steady when the artifact is lying on a flat surface. The centralized flute also serves as finger grips when the artifact is being used as a hammer. Point two is a pentagonal axe/hoe with a pentagonal flute for hafting purposes. The tool can also be used as a hammer by simply turning it around. Small grooves on either side of the flute permit sinew to be precisely wrapped when hafting to a shaft.
Paleo stone culture invented and developed fluted points. These ancient stone masons realized early on that stone could be cut into useful forms that could serve many purposes, and perform multiple tasks. By fluting, a useless rock became a valuable tool that could now be used to modify the environment and feed the community. Indeed, stone fluting was absolutely essential to early Americans, enabling them to eat, build shelters and protect themselves from predators, both animal and human. Stone could be cut to any shape and formed to make tools to do almost any task, limited only by the imagination and skill of the mason. In fact, different jobs required different areas of the stone tool to be fluted.
A fluted tip point has two basic purposes. As a hunting point, a fluted tip penetrates deeper than a point that is fluted only at the base. As discussed earlier, (see "Why Flute"?), deeper wounds kill prey quicker, which makes hunting easier and safer. As a knife, a fluted tip point allows its user to make precise, sharp cuts on anything, (stone, bone, antler, wood or flesh) that needs to be shaped.
Here are four examples of fluted stone tip technology. The first picture is a triangular spearhead. We are amazed that it is exactly four inches long. ( Almost all points are either above or below exact inches.) Point number two is fluted in five places, with the deepest being at the tip. Point three has cutting edges that are pointed to both left and right, thus enlarging the wound as it enters its prey. Finally, point four is a curved crescent stone knife with finger grips to allow steady handling while performing precise cuts.