Thursday, May 26, 2016
FLINT RIDGE, OHIO
Flint Ridge: source of tools for Hopewell
A WAX MODEL DEMONSTRATES FLINTNAPPING
As we are interested in early American Indian sites, we enjoyed our recent visit to the Flint Ridge State Memorial in Glenford, a small village in southeast Ohio. The museum, built around a restored prehistoric quarry, focuses on the importance of flint, which the Indians used to make the tools and weapons needed to keep them fed, clothed and protected from enemies.
On the 525-acre site, visitors can take trails past various quarries dug by the Indians. The first in the area to mine flint were the Paleo-Indians, who came here as long as 15,000 years ago.
Need an accounIn addition to weapons, other items made from flint included hide scrapers and drills. One of the displays pointed out that flint tools can be recycled — you just made a smaller item by flaking off pieces to create a new shape.
As flint was not readily available in many places, tribes such as the Adena and Hopewell had a source of trading goods. They were probably among our country’s first traveling salesmen as they took their valuable flint products around the country trading for copper, sea shells, food, hides, pottery and other items of worth.
Ohio has some of the best flint in the world. One bulletin suggested that flint might have been the basis for the state’s first industry.
Displays in the small but well-organized museum, built in 1933 miles from nowhere, tell the American Indians’ story. A mannequin now sits in the open pit once used by American Indians both for mining the flint and for napping it into products — making it into a useful tool. The American Indians had an area of 6 square miles they mined for more than 12,000 years.
The immediate area is a preserve with hundreds of ancient pits where they came to quarry the flint. The volunteer guide told us the area did not produce much food, so no one lived there; they came only to get and work the flint.
Flint, a variety of quartz, was laid down from the remains of undersea creatures 300 to 400 million years ago. Some varieties are better than others, and Ohio claims its flint not only is among the best for tools and weapons, but because it comes in a range of shades including red, blue, yellow and green, is especially good for making jewelry. Later European and Americans made stone-grinding wheels for mills out of it.
Various flint items are on display in the museum, and there are several interactive programs that tell you more about the uses for flint. One particularly attractive display has a wide-ranging display of flint tools and points on a wall with chips and flint-making tools spread over the floor. Sitting in middle of this a mannequin depicting an American Indian flintnapper.
To add to our education, we watched a film in which a modern-day archaeologist demonstrated the making of a spear point using a stone tool and antelope horn. He explained archaeologists are studying the pits for what they can tell us about the lives of these people.
A local flintnapper has various arrow and spearheads for sale in the souvenirs center, based on the different periods when flint was mined and turned into tools and weapons. One of his beautiful spear heads was priced at $700.