See experimental archaeology in action: Bob Patten

by Treloar Bower, Curator of Education

I wrote in a post earlier this week that experimental archaeology is one way we continue to learn about Paleoindians without performing excavations at Lindenmeier.  Many archaeologists experiment with flint knapping, which is an amazing art in which tools are formed from stone by removing large flakes and small chips. Many archaeologists flint knap to gain insight into how Paleoindians manufactured their stone tools. Sometimes the best way to learn is to do it yourself. 

One of the best flintknappers in the world is Bob Patten, who will be at the Fort Collins Museum on Friday, June 5, at 5 pm to demonstrate some of his flintknapping skills. 

Bob is one of only a handful of people who has perfected a technique to recreate a Folsom projectile point, a type of spearhead that has long channels known as flutes removed from each face of the point. The pieces that come off of the flute are called channel flakes. The vast majority of channel flakes recovered from tool making “workshops” of archaeological sites are broken into three pieces. For many archaeologists, if a flintknapper recreates a fluted Folsom point without leaving channel flakes broken in three pieces, well, then, it’s probably not the method that was employed at so many of the workshops excavated so far. The cool thing about Bob’s technique? He makes a three piece channel flake! 

Come check him out and while you’re at it, pick up his books from the Museum Store: Old Tools – New Eyes and Peoples of the Flute.

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