Feb 202002
Authors: Melissa Belongea

A bit of Pleistocene past, otherwise known as the ice age, is coming to Fort Collins. The Fort Collins Museum will be hosting a Masters’ Flintknapping Workshop in conjunction with the current exhibit, “Dig It: The People and Archaeology of the Lindenmeier Site,” at the Fort Collins Museum.

Flintknapping, as it is now called, is the art of creating stone tools.

Treloar Tredennick, the curator of Education at the museum says that the workshop allows for an appreciation for native tool making. “It was a matter of life and death, (Folsom Paleoindians) needed specific types of stone for specific hunting purposes and would travel extreme distances to find it,” Tredennick said.

A Master himself, Bob Patten will be teaching the one-day workshop titled “Trade Secrets of Folsom Technology.” Patten is a retired geologist with an extensive history working on archaeological education projects. The workshop will focus on making projectile points from the Folsom Paleoindians.

The Lindenmeier Site is considered the largest Paleoindian campsite and the Fort Collins museum is one of three museums in the United States to exhibit these artifacts. In fact, the Lindenmeier site rests just 25 miles north of Fort Collins.

Folsom Paleoindians are a prehistoric group of Native Americans who were known to occupy the plains of North America, mostly in the range among California, Montana, New Mexico and Texas.

Their stone artifacts, which include unique projectile points, are associated in the archaeological record with large game such as bison. The Folsom people are known to be the first to utilize a system of hunting called “surrounded kill method,” according to an Encyclopedia.com description of Folsom culture. The South Dakota State Historical society describes Folsom points as “the pinnacle of the flint worker’s art in the Americas.”

In the 21st century, it is hard to ignore humans’ unique cognition, which distinguishes us from other species. This unique cognition has brought us to the age of computer technology, war and genetic engineering. However, in the early stages of human evolution, this distinction was not so clear.

Anthropologists characterize the era in which the genus Homo evolved from Australopithecines as the lower Paleolithic era. This is considered prehistory and a time when some of the first traces of human’s unique cognition and culture exist in the archaeological record.

From the novice to the archaeologist, flintknapping is an activity that sheds insight into the culture of human history. n

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