Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Notes From My Knapsack 9-04-05
Jeff Gill

"History Detectives" is a public television program that ranges from seeking the true story of anything from Wyatt Earp’s watch to Hermann Goering’s shotgun. They look into old documents, refurbished houses, and recently, a prehistoric artifact.
Part of the tracing and re-enacting they did was to let one of the winsome co-hosts demonstrate an ancient piece of technology, an "atlatl."
The question was, could a spear be thrown at a bison 5000 years ago with enough force to embed a flint point into a skull? By hand, no. With the arm extension and leverage of a throwing stick, or atlatl, even a slight young lady could with a bit of practice.
Long before bow and arrow came into the Native American tool kit, atlatls and flint "projectile points" were the hunting tool of choice. Fine flint as you can find to this day in southeastern Licking County made sharp edges with attractive appearance, from almost 12,000 years ago to . . .
Well, how about this weekend? Friday through Sunday, Sept. 2, 3, and 4, from 10 am to 5 pm, you can drive out Brownsville Road or Flint Ridge Road to where they meet. Flint Ridge State Memorial is hosting a "Knap-In" by the Flint Ridge Lithic Society.
If you would like to see, or even learn how to knap raw nodules of flint into useful tools, dozens of experts at flint and stone tool making will be "on the ridge" through the weekend.
The Ohio Atlatl Association (yes, they have an association) is working with the Lithic Society to hold long dart competitions, where experts in atlatl throwing will demostrate their skills. Like any skilled craftspeople, they will gladly share their craft with other men and women, girls and boys, all who come out to see a piece of Licking County’s most ancient history.
With the lunar alignment of the Newark Earthworks coming up for a public event October 22, the Flint Ridge Knap-In is a great preparation for spending this fall understanding the Indian heritage of central Ohio. There will be some food and souvenirs for sale, so you get the family fun part in the package.
Call 800-600-7178 for more info, or 740-344-1919, or just drop in to the knap-in. The clink and chink of stone on stone will greet your ear when you first get out of your car, and as you walk the grounds, modern technology will fall away enough for you to see more clearly the technological achievements that we inadequately label as "stone age."

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio who also volunteers at Flint Ridge for the Ohio Historical Society, the site managers; if you have a prehistoric tale to tell, send it to disciple@voyager.net.

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