are points made from?
rarely finds a naturally pointed stone of the right size, shape, and
weight for use as a projectile point. A suitable projectile point must
be made. To do so, one must first find a proper stone and shape it.
In Illinois, Native Americans generally selected chert, a silica-rich
stone, to make projectile points and other types of stone tools.
is commonly found in limestone and dolomite deposits exposed along some
rivers and streams. Particularly rich outcrops of chert-bearing rock
are found in the rugged Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois and the towering
limestone bluffs that border the lower reach of the Illinois River Valley.
these areas, and others across the state, chert may be quarried from
bedrock or streambeds, where it accumulates as the stream cuts through
bedrock. Native Americans searched these places to find pieces of chert
of the right size, shape, and quality.
is the difference between chert and flint?
In Illinois, and elsewhere in the Midwest, archaeologists generally
identify the stone used to make a projectile point as chert or flint.
The basic composition of chert and flint are identical: both are hard,
dense microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline sedimentary rock. They have
a conchoidal (shell-shaped) fracture pattern. They occur principally
as nodules and less commonly as layered deposits.
There is considerable confusion about the other characteristics of chert
and flint. According to one source (Bates and Jackson 1984:85), chert
may be white or variously colored, although they later note that flint
is a dark gray or black variety of chert (Bates and Jackson 1984:187).
Pough (1960) notes that flint is a compact variety of chert, and black
in color. However, Leet and Judson (1965) state that flint is commonly
found in certain limestone beds such as the chalk beds of southern England,
and that chert is similar to flint but tends to be lighter in color.
Finally, Pohopien (1969) reports that the color of chert is white, yellowish,
brown, gray, and black, and when chert is found in chalk beds, it is
majority of projectile points found in central Illinois were made from
white to light gray, silica-rich rock, which we generally refer to as