Type:  Macroblade Point

Location: Helen Springs Station, Northern Territory



MoST ID: 5552

Pedestal Link: https://une.pedestal3d.com/r/N-veZU_5BU

Model Author:  Emma Watt

This chert unifacial macroblade point is from the Barkly Tableland, Helen Springs Station, in the Northern Territory.  Macroblade points proliferated proliferated in the Late Holocene in Australia, after ca. 5000 BP, and were made into the the recent past.

This macroblade point is made from banded Barkly Tableland chert.  The macroblade was struck from a blade core using a hammerstone.  The macroblade propagated under an acute ridge of high mass created by prior parallel blade removals.  The macroblade was then trimmed by unifacial hard-hammer percussion to give the point a triangular shape.  The hammer was relatively narrow and the flake removals were spaced apart perhaps to intentionally create serrated edges.

See the annotations for technological details about this stone tool.

Blades are elongated flakes that measure at least twice as long as they are wide.  In Australia, a blade measuring more than about 40 mm long is referred to as a ‘macroblade’.  Macroblades were made by hard-hammer percussion following various strategic methods.  The Camooweal Method of macroblade manufacture, practiced in northwestern Queensland, has been described in detail.

Macroblade manufacture emerged in Australia in the Middle Holocene, by about 7000 BP, and proliferated from about 5000 BP.  They were made into the recent past.  Macroblades are common in stone artefact assemblages across Northern and Central Australia, and large macroblade manufacturing quarries are found throughout the region.  They were extensively traded, a practice which continued into the 1990s in the Northern Territory.  In the historic period, macroblades were made for use as knives with wood or resin handles, or were hafted as armaments on darts cast with spearthrowers.  Some macroblades were exceptionally large, although most encountered by archaeologists measure less than 100 mm long.

Archaeologists often divide macroblade points into unifacial and bifacial variants.  Unifacial points are usually retouched towards the dorsal surface to create the distal point and shape the edges, with unifacial or bifacial flaking at the proximal (platform) end to thin and shape it for hafting.  Bifacial points are retouched to both faces along both margins.  Macroblades were sometimes shaped in certain ways to produce regionally-specific tool types, such as Juan knives in Queensland and Yilugwa knives in Central Australia.  Large-sized Pirri Points were sometimes made by pressure flaking on macroblades.

Some archaeologists think that unifacial points turned into bifacial points through resharpening.  This may have been true in some cases, but the narrow width of macroblades does not allow for the type of bifacial thinning seen on, for instance, Kimberley Points or Northern Territory Triangular Points.  Other bifacial points, such as Wanji Bifaces and some bifacial points in western Queensland, were made on tabular pieces of raw material and not macroblades.