Crafting in Stone
At LAW, I demonstrate flintknapping mostly. It is my favorite activity.
I also assist Tammy Beane, my wife, with the pottery demonstrations. I can explain pottery manufacture, but my pots are not nearly as pretty as hers. Other technologies I have demonstrated elsewhere are throwing spears with the atlatl, blow guns, drilling holes, bow drill fire making, using nutting and grinding stones, and how to play the prehistoric games of chunkey, stickball, and cup-and-pin. Although I do not demonstrate them, other prehistoric technologies I am interested in are making copper plates and mica cutouts, making Swift Creek and other pottery paddles, and making textiles and cordage.
I enjoy teaching these skills and igniting the imagination of the audience. Many people have become excited enough to follow their own journey into the prehistoric technology and archaeology world after my presentations. I strive to emphasize the preservation of archaeology and the things we learn from our studies.
I demonstrate the pressure flaking technique at LAW 2011.
At LAW 2012, I demonstrate percussion flaking using an antler billet alongside fellow flintknapper Tim Dillard (left).
I have been flintknapping since about 1970. I started demonstrating flintknapping and some of the tools used in this technology at the Catawba College Museum of Anthropology in Salisbury, NC about 1978.
My interest in archaeology and geology began about the age of six at a rock and mineral show. By the age of 12, the realization that bought artifacts often were faked led me to experiment with flintknapping. If they could do it, I could do it. It took about two years to become proficient at chipping glass and obsidian to make “pointy notched objects” called arrowheads. I did this guided only by the Golden Guide to Indian Arts and a book on cave men.
My dream of becoming an archaeologist became reality at Catawba College. As a freshman, my knowledge of flakes, taking notes, and reading a topographic map put me on the field crew within a couple of weeks of my arrival at school. After graduation, flintknapping led to a career in public archaeology. I was hired to teach about archaeo-logical sites and prehistoric technology. I use my skills to attract an audience, encourage the support of professional archaeology and site preservation, and explain how ancestors all over the world lived.
I assisted Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park and Little River Canyon National Preserve in beginning their knap-ins. I have done flintknapping programs for archaeological parks and events from Texas, Missouri and Illinois to the Southeastern Coastal states. Learning prehistoric skills, showing them to the public, and preserving archaeological sites remain my passion.
I have been coming to LAW for most of its 25 years. Tammy and I missed a few years when our daughter was small and did not travel well. At a Southeastern Archaeological Conference, we were involved early on in the grant planning process for support of LAW.
I have done flintknapping and pottery firing at LAW. Once I even substituted as a “prehistoric” cook! I will come to this even as long as I am invited and can travel. All the demonstration expertise at LAW makes this the best event I participate in.
LAW has one of the most beautiful settings for a program I do regularly. Usually the school groups are somewhat organized, expect a repeatable short program, and many children are touched by history at this event. This event is small enough to personalize the Saturday public day presentations to the audience, and large enough to attract nationally known presenters for the program. It is a gathering of friends who have skills and expertise in other fields. The camaraderie is strong here. Sitting at the hotel teaching each other, showing off skills, and discussions over Miguel’s pizza are super bonuses for me.
LAW really isn't so much about me, but about getting people interested in history and archaeology enough so they will care about preserving it.
I describe pottery firing to volunteer Kimberly Huddleston and visitors at LAW 2009.