Arkansas Novaculite Home | What is Novaculite? | How Was Novaculite Used in the Past? | Sourcing Novaculite | Learning Exercises | References and Links
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What is this Website?

This website is a virtual lithic comparative collection featuring Arkansas Novaculite from Ouachita Mountain sources. It is aimed at archeologists and other researchers who work in Arkansas and in surrounding states and who need comparative materials to help them identify and source stone artifacts from archeological sites. This website serves as an educational website for anyone interested in the history and archeology of Arkansas and the American midcontinent. The website describes and illustrates the variation within and between sources of this important toolstone. Information on the effects of heat treatment of novaculite is included, as well as results of chemical characterization studies of samples from specific novaculite quarries.

Novaculite was an important raw material used by Indians who lived in this region for thousands of years. Because novaculite breaks with a “conchoidal fracture,” flintknappers could use the predictable cone-shaped fracture to chip tools to whatever shape and thickness they desired. Native Americans living in this region from about 10,500 B.C. to 1700 A.D. made novaculite points to tip darts and arrows, and chipped novaculite into knife blades, scraping tools, and drills. A brief overview of novaculite tools showcases the long Indian history in Arkansas.

Novaculite outcrops on tops of mountains in the Ouachitas.

American Indians quarried novaculite from outcrops on mountain ridges in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. We can still see the evidence of this activity in the battered outcrops, quarry pits and trenches, stone hammers, and chipping refuse. Over 120 novaculite quarries have been recorded as archeological sites in Arkansas. Ancient novaculite quarries on mountain ridges are some of the largest archeological sites in North America. The size of these quarries shows the significance of novaculite to the past residents of this area. It is important to preserve and protect archeological sites such as novaculite quarries. These sites tell us the unwritten history of quarrying in Arkansas.

  • Learn more about sourcing novaculite and the distribution of toolstone from novaculite quarries to ancient communities across the region.
  • See a map showing novaculite sources and counties where novaculite artifacts have been found.
  • Jump to photographs of novaculite from quarry sites in Garland County, in Montgomery County, in Hot Spring County, in Saline County, and in Polk County.
  • What other kinds of toolstone were used by Indians in Arkansas?

Tyler Stumpf records information at a novaculite quarry in Garland County.

Do you have an interest in the history and archeology of Arkansas and the surrounding region, and in learning about Indians who lived here for thousands of years? After reading these pages, you can go to the Arkansas Archeological Survey’s Educational Resources page, or to the Indians of Arkansas website, to learn more.

 

A preliminary version of this website was launched in February, 2013, thanks to a planning mini-grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council. Website text and photographs were created by Mary Beth Trubitt, Tyler Stumpf, and Vanessa Hanvey (Arkansas Archeological Survey, Arkadelphia). Website design and coding was created by John Samuelsen (Arkansas Archeological Survey, Fayetteville). We thank Christopher Davies and Lydell Lively for their help in the planning phase.

The developed version of the “Arkansas Novaculite: A Virtual Comparative Collection” website has been funded by a major grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council. Website text and photographs were created by Mary Beth Trubitt, Tyler Stumpf, and Vanessa Hanvey (Arkansas Archeological Survey, Arkadelphia). Website design and coding was created by John Samuelsen (Arkansas Archeological Survey, Fayetteville). We thank Steve Kirschman, George Sabo III, Mary Kwas, Emilie Kinney, and Rodney Parker for their advice and comments on this project.

Mary Beth Trubitt documents a Polk County novaculite quarry.

 

Suggested citation format for this website:

     Arkansas Archeological Survey 2014 "Arkansas Novaculite: A Virtual Comparative Collection."
     http://arkarcheology.uark.edu/novaculite/index.html (accessed January 15, 2014).

We welcome comments and feedback from you! For further information on this website, please contact Mary Beth Trubitt, Arkansas Archeological Survey, mtrubit@uark.edu.

 

National Endowment for the Humanities Logo Arkansas Humanities Council Logo

This project is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

Arkansas Archeological Survey: A Division of the University of Arkansas System

Copyright 2012, 2013, 2014, Arkansas Archeological Survey
A Division of the University of Arkansas System

2475 North Hatch Avenue
Fayetteville, AR 72704
479-575-3556
arkarch@uark.edu

 

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Last Updated: October 6th, 2014