American Flintknappers: Stone Age Art in the Age of Computers

American Flintknappers: Stone Age Art in the Age of Computers

by John C. Whittaker

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Making arrowheads, blades, and other stone tools was once a survival skill and is still a craft practiced by thousands of flintknappers around the world. In the United States, knappers gather at regional "knap-ins" to socialize, exchange ideas and material, buy and sell both equipment and knapped art, and make stone tools in the company of others. In between these gatherings, the knapping community stays connected through newsletters and the Internet.

In this book, avid knapper and professional anthropologist John Whittaker offers an insider's view of the knapping community. He explores why stone tools attract modern people and what making them means to those who pursue this art. He describes how new members are incorporated into the knapping community, how novices learn the techniques of knapping and find their roles within the group, how the community is structured, and how ethics, rules, and beliefs about knapping are developed and transmitted. He also explains how the practice of knapping relates to professional archaeology, the trade in modern replicas of stone tools, and the forgery of artifacts. Whittaker's book thus documents a fascinating subculture of American life and introduces the wider public to an ancient and still rewarding craft.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292757899
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 09/17/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 13 MB
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About the Author

JOHN C. WHITTAKER is Professor of Anthropology at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction: Coming to the Knap-in
    • The Knap-in Ethos
    • Sources of Information
    • The Knap-in at Fort Osage
  • 2. Making Stone Tools: The World's Oldest Craft
    • The Processes of Flintknapping
    • Tools and the Knappers' Ethos
  • 3. From Fakes and Experiments to Knap-ins: The Roots of Modern Flintknapping
    • Charlie Shewey
    • Early Archaeologists and Fakers
    • Native Knappers
    • Mack Tussinger and the Oklahoma Eccentrics
    • Daniel, Howe, and Others
    • McCormick the Folsom Fluter
    • Bryon Rinehart and Grey Ghosts
    • Richard Warren—Scale Work and Lap Knapping
    • Patterns in the Early Modern Knappers
    • Halvor Skavlem and the Hobby Knapper
    • Archaeology and Replication
    • Knapping Newsletters
    • The First Knap-ins
    • Waldorf and The Art of Flintknapping
    • Transition to the Current Scene
    • The Current Scene
  • 4. The Knap-in: People and Organization
    • Bob Hunt, Organizer at Fort Osage
    • George Eklund, Commercial Knapper
    • Jim Regan, Copper Toolsmith
    • Gene Stapleton, Dealing in Stone
    • Percy Atkinson: Gourds, Axes, and Philosophy
    • D. C. and Val Waldorf, Knap-in Professionals
    • Ingrid Jones, Knapper Spouse
    • Knapper Demography
    • A Continent of Knap-ins
    • Mid-West Flintknappers' Convention, June 1993
    • Pine City Knap-in
    • Evergreen Lake Knap-in, July 1996
    • Genesee Valley Flint Knappers Association Knap-in, August 1996
    • Flint Ridge Knap-in, August 1996
    • Knap-in Generalities
  • 5. Knappers at the Knap-in
    • Culture and Community of Practice
    • Performance
    • Learning to Knap
    • Learning the Ethos
    • Politics, Gender, and Ethnicity
    • Expressions of Identity
    • The Chipping Keeps You Going: Why Knappers Knap
  • 6. Status and Stones
    • The Knap-in as Egalitarian Event
    • Ooga-Booga, a Ritual of Inclusion
    • Status and Competition in Knapping
    • Talking with Stone: Ritual Exchange and Expression of Status
  • 7. Art, Craft, or Reproduction: Knapper Esthetics
    • Stone Tools as Art and Folk Art
    • Two Knappers, Two Attitudes
    • The Ideal Point: Common Esthetic Rules
    • The Rules in Action: Knapping Contests
    • Imitation as Esthetic Goal
    • Point Types and Artistic Choices
    • Replicas and the Art of Knapping
  • 8. Can't Never Have Too Much Flint: The Lore of Stone
    • The Mystique of Stone
    • The Qualities of Stone
    • The Quest for Stone
    • Decreasing Resources
  • 9. Modern Stone Age Economics
    • Frank Stevens, Knap-in Entrepreneur
    • A Trip to Quartzite
    • Market Knapping
    • Art Knapping
    • Dale Cannon and Stone Knives
  • 10. Knappers, Collectors, Archaeologists: Ethics and Conflicts
    • Replicas, Fakes, and Art
    • Fakes, Replicas, and Ethics
    • Murmurings at the Knap-in
    • Woody's Dreams and Knappers' Nightmares
    • Fakes and Archaeology
    • Counting Knappers and Points
    • Markets, Again
    • The World of Collecting
    • Authentication
    • Archaeological Impacts of Modern Knapping: Collections
    • The Creation and Destruction of Sites
    • Epilogue: Sin and Society
  • 11. Silicon and Society
    • Silicon Connections
    • Forming and Breaking
    • The Future
  • Appendix A. Knapper Mail Survey Questionnaire
  • Appendix B. Fall 1996 Fort Osage Knap-in Registration
  • Appendix C. New York Knap-in Contest Rules, 1994
  • Appendix D. New York Knap-in Contest Rules, 1996
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Stafford Director

"This is a superb book, authored by one of the only people with both the anthropological background and the connections in the world of contemporary flintknapping to write it. It really is unlike any work I’m aware of in lithics studies.Michael"

Customer Reviews