Missouri Lithics —
the oldest occupational craft
of the oldest Missouri folk
This page offers some examples of artifacts produced by the earliest inhabitants of Missouri, as well as some useful links — the first of which includes a highly recommended overview of the ethics (and legalities) of collecting prehistoric artifacts. While Indian artifacts are fascinating, considerable archaeological knowledge has been lost forever through careless or unscrupulous treasure-hunting, and living Indians are outraged at the plundering of their grandparents’ graves.
If you have images or information, especially identifications of specimens unlabelled here, please email webmaster, who makes no claim to being a lithics expert.
You’ll be wanting this:
Indians and Archaeology of Missouri by Carl and Eleanor Chapman
1989 (3rd printing of the 1964 original). 168 pp; maps and photographs of the excavations and artifacts from Missouri. Contact the University of Missouri Press.
Some Notes on Cupstones of Adair County, MO —
observations on a common but little-studied type of Native American artifact
In recent issues of the Missouri Archaeological Society Quarterly, you can read about Ian Thompson’s recreation and field-testing of the bows used by the Missouri Osage, or get Alan Banks’ complete guide to Etley-type points; consider the nature of the smallest points (“Tools or Toys?” by Mike Pearce), and much more. Click here to find out how to sign up.
Click here for a glossary of descriptive terms for Native American artifacts.
Click here for a catalogue of lithic types
two assortments of what are commonly called “bird points” — but were in fact much too heavy for any such purpose; they are usually thought to have been attached to lances, at least sometimes launched from a spearthrowing device called an atl-atl.:
Points of Known Type:
Nebo Hill type, Greene County, Missouri. Approx. 3&1/2″ long x 1″ wide x 3/8″ at thickest point
Motley point of Burlington chert, Cole Co, 4 5/8″ long by 1 5/8″ wide and 3/8″ thick
double notch point from Boone County, Missouri. 2 3/8″ long by 1 1/2″ wide
another Snyder from southern Missouri; 2 1/16 inches
A classic or “colbert” dalton point (2 1/4″)
Sloan dalton point, 4 1/4″, burlington chert, Boone County
dalton point, Perry County, 4 7/8 inches
Another dalton point, found in the bootheel of Missouri, near Steele; approx. 3 1/8″ x 1 1/2″ at the widest point.
dalton point from Butler County. 1 7/8″
dalton point with especially elaborate and well-preserved serrations, southern Missouri; 3 9/16″
Unusual fluted dalton point, 2 3/16″ x 1 1/8″
Lost Lake type, Bollinger County, Mo. 2 3/4 inches
a Sedalia point from Pettis Co., 6 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 inches at widest point.
5 1/4″ sedalia, Franklin Co.
Paleo Agate Basin point made from Burlington chert; 10,500 BP and 9000 BP. Warren County, Missouri
Stemmed point, Cooper County. 89mm (3 1/2 in) x 38mm (1 7/16)in.); late Archaic period
Short-stemmed Hardin point, 2-5/8″ Found at the St. Albans Site, in Franklin Co., Missouri. Finder: “[it] has had two resharpenings that created beveled cutting edges and reduced the size of the blade moderately.”
4 1/2″ Leaf Type blade, white chert, found on site 23-CP-273 Cooper County Missouri in 1993.
Smith point from St. Louis Co. 3 1/4″ x 1 3/4″ grey flint. Smith points are diagnostic of the Middle Archaic period with an age of 7000 to 4000 B.P.
Pentagonal “Afton” point from Cole County
Godar Point, 3 1/4″ in length, c. 2500 B.C., from Calloway County, MO. Made of Burlington flint.
This stemmed lanceolate point was collected by Jim Winters from Osage Co. Missouri prior to 1952. It measures 3-1/16″ x
1-1/16″ x 3/8″
This corner notched point was collected by Jim Winters in Osage Co. Missouri prior to 1952. It measures 1-3/8″ x 15/16″ x
This side notch was collected by Jim Winters in Osage Co. Missouri prior to 1952. Exhibits basal grinding. Bears collection
mark (circled 47). It measures 1-3/4″ x 13/16″ x 1/4″.
Hopewell-type point, 3 inch by 1 7/8 inch wide found in St. Charles Missouri;
4 1/2″. tentatively identified by collector as a Copena type blade (SW Missouri)
4-1/4″ Stone Square Stem (a less common variety of Etley). Found at the Schulte Farm Site, in St. Charles Co., Missouri. Finder states, “A large dart/knife form that has had one resharpening that reduced the size of the blade. Actually this is a Stone Square-stemed variety of Etley most often found in Southwestern Mo.”
Below, classic Etley Point from Ripley County. 5 7/16″
another etley…provenience unknown
Agate Basin; Cass Co., 3 3/8″ x 1 1/4″
Scott’s Bluff. 2.64″ x 1.54″ x 0.35″; Benton Co.
another Scott’s Bluff, St. Louis Co., 2.41″ x 0.98″ x 0.24″
2-5/8″ Kramer. Found near the town of Silex, in Lincoln Co., Missouri. Made from high grade, Burlington chert and it has good patina.
Lerma type, Lewis Co:
Holland type, Jackson Co:
Tablerock type, Jackson Co.
Mid-Archaic to Woodland Period (2,500-4,500 yr. old)
Matanzas point, Gasconade Co., Missouri. 1 5/8 “, tan and pink chert
2″ Gary type from Gasconade Co:
2 1/4″ Rice side-notched, Jackson Co:
2 1/2″ Eden eared, Jackson Co:
Hickory Ridge type, Jackson Co.
Madison point, Jackson Co:
knife or other blade, 5&3/8″ x 1&5/16″ Mid to Late Archaic, (4000 to 2500 years old),
found near Cape Girardeau, MO
Can you tell the webmaster what point-types the images below represent?
Jeff Bruder writes: My best guestimate from top to bottom:
Shumla (out of its normal region – Texas)
Snyders (Hopewell) variant
And the last two both appear to be Greenbrier
Benton County; 3 5/8″ x 1 1/4″ at widest point
a point from Wayne Co. MO (3 1/4″)
Pike County; 4″ x 1 1/8″
a point from SE MO (3″ x 2 3/8″)
2 1/4″; McDonald County
Greenbrier, 2 3/4″ Stone Co
Axes and Celts:
3/4 grooved Axe from Montgomery County, MO. Measures 6 6/8″ long by 2 1/2″ tall by 1 7/8″ thick
3/4 grooved axe, 4 1/2 inches long, 2 1/8 inches wide,and 1 1/2 inches thick.St Louis Countyi.
This axe from Benton Co is 5 1/4″ long, 2 3/8″ at its widest point
An axe from Boone Co.
A particularly fine 3/4 grooved quartzite axe from Clinton Co, 5 3/8″ long, showing signs of re-working; c. 7000-3000 b.p.
an adze, for chiseling and smoothing (4 1/2″)
Small celt (ungrooved axe), surface find from northwest Missouri (not far from Iowa and Kansas). Approximately 4 1/2 inches long; dark green stone with light red accents.
Three views of a pressure-flaking tool found by Dean Maag (Kirksville) in a Mercer Co. creekbed, 1999. Lack of context makes dating difficult. Made of antler, the implement is largely mineralized, and retains pressure-fractures at the pointed end, and multiple microimpact fractures at the blunt or heavy end, probably used for fine percussion techniques. The tool retains a high polish in the areas where the user gripped it.
A discoidal — one claim is that these Mississippian objects were used in a game called “chunkey ,” in which the stone was slid across a flat court, and spears were thrown where one thought it would come to rest — the winner being the one whose spear came closest to the point at which the object came to rest.
Below, side and top view of a discoidal found in St. Charles Co.,
2 1/4 inches thick and 5 7/16 inches wide. Both sides are identically concave.
In 1775, James Adair in his 18th Century English wrote a description of the game:
The warriors have another favorite game called chungke, which, with propriety of language, may be called ‘running hard labor’. They have near their state-house a square piece of ground well cleaned, and fine sand is carefully strewed over it, when requisite, to promote a swifter motion to what they throw along the surface.
Only one or two on a side play at this ancient game. They have a stone about two fingers broad at the edge, and two spans round; each party has a pole of about eight feet long, smooth and tapering at each end, the points flat. They set off abreast of each other at six yards from the end of the play-ground; then one of them hurls the stone on its edge, in as direct a line as he can, a considerable distance toward the middle of the other end of the square; when they have run a few yards, each darts his pole anointed with bear’s oil, with a proper force, as near as he can guess in proportion to the motion of the stone, that the end may lie close to the stone; when this is the case, the person counts two of the game, and, in proportion to the nearness of the poles to the mark, one is counted, unless by measuring both are found to at an equal distance from the stone. In this manner, the players will keep running most part of the day, at half speed, under the violent heat of the sun, staking their silver ornaments, their nose, finger, and ear rings; their breast, arm and wrist-plates; and even all their wearing apparel, except that which barely covers their middle. All the American Indians are much addicted to this game, which it seems to be of early origin, when their forefathers used diversions as simple as their manners. The hurling-stones they use at present were, time immemorial, rubbed smooth on the rocks, and with prodigious labour; they are kept with the strictest religious care, from one generation to another, and are exempted from being buried with the dead. They belong to the town where they are used, and are carefully preserved.
Click here for a collection and classification of discoidals.
2 holed gorget, Boone Co., 3 1/2 ” x 2 1/8″. “Gorget” is a general term for a relatively large, flat, or gently curving object of polished stone, shell, or metal, with holes for suspension. Usually believed to have been worn as an ornament around the throat.
2 views of a St. Louis Co. boatstone, 3″ x 1 1/4″x 3/4″, thought to be a type of Atlatl weight or a cerimonial ornament of some type.
Below: two images of Native American pottery forms from Contributions to the Archaeology of Missouri by the Archaeological Section of the St. Louis Academy of Science(Part I: Pottery). George A. Bates. Salem MA: Naturalists’ Bureau, 1880.
Mississippian bowl from the Herschel Love collection, 5 1/2 inches in diameter and just over 3 inches in height, found in Pemiscot Co.
Some sites, by dealers and collectors, including images and information about artifacts of aboriginal Missourians: