This Thebes point from Gibson County, Indiana, is made from Carter Cave chert. The interior of the notch was expanded by removing a flake at the notches’ top and bottom, resulting in an E-shaped effect. Thebes points date to the Early Archaic period and were used between ca. 8000-10,000 BP.
This point displays E-shaped notches, also referred to as ‘key-hole’ notches. Modern flintknappers often notch replicas of these points by removing two flakes side-by-side; if one of the flake removals is unsuccessful, punching a flake from the platform next to it is usually sufficient to salvage the notch and progress it further into the point. The same appears to have been done on ancient Thebes points; if the last notch flake removed is towards the top side of the notch, ‘dog-leg’ notches were sometimes created. If the last notch flake is removed towards the base of the notch, and spaced slightly away from the point of force application for the prior notch flake, an E-notch was the result. The ‘E’ shape was sometimes exaggerated on these points by the removal of more than one flake once this configuration developed.
The profound cultural and subsistence changes from the Paleoindian to the Early Archaic in North America was matched by a dramatic shift in the stone technology. The fluted lanceolate points of the Paleoindian period, such as Clovis, transitioned to exotically-fluted types such as Cumberland points in southeastern North America, and Folsom on the Great Plains. Eventually fluting was abandoned for less dramatic basal thinning, like that seen on Dalton points, and, eventually, lanceolate points were supplemented or replaced by an explosion of notched point styles in the Early Archaic period, after about 10,000 BP. The earliest notched points in the Early Archaic are side-notched (e.g., Graham Cave, Big Sandy, Hardaway, Bolen), followed by corner-notched points (e.g., Kirk, Palmer, Lost Lake), with ‘bifurcated’ points (corner-notched or stemmed points with a notched base, like LeCroy, Kanawha, MacCorkle, and St Albans) emerging towards the end of the Early Archaic period. Side-notched (e.g., Thebes, St Charles), basal-notched (e.g., Calf Creek), and stemmed (e.g., Hardin, Kirk Stemmed) point variants co-occurred with corner-notched points in complex patterns through most of the Early Archaic period, reflecting considerable regional and chronological diversity in point styles, driven by population growth and intensified trends towards differing cultural expression in circumscribed regions. These point styles—all of them manufactured by bifacial flaking—functioned variously as dart points and hafted knives.
The Thebes point family includes the St Charles, Lost Lake, and Calf Creek varieties. Thebes points were made by skilled bifacial percussion thinning followed by indirect percussion notching using a punch. The notch flake scars are often quite broad and pronounced. The bases are usually heavily ground and sometimes polished, presumably to prevent the handle binding from being cut by the basal edge. Pressure flaking was usually limited to the edges, and islands of the percussion thinning scars are visible in the middle of each face, particularly towards the proximal end.
The blade edges on Thebes points were resharpened frequently by non-invasive pressure flaking, mostly conducted unifacially. The unifacial resharpening was done to the opposite faces on the two edges and, through attrition, the biface developed a twisted, propeller-like cross section. This technique is called ‘bevelling’. The beveled faces almost always occur on the left site of the point (with the proximal end oriented down). The bevelling technique was used across a number of point styles in the Early Archaic period in eastern North America. It appears to have first emerged during the Dalton phase. Bevelled points were probably used as hafted knives in most cases. The bevelling on this model is well-developed, and the propeller cross section can be seen by rotating the model and viewing it from the tip. The point was heavily resharpened. Grinding is also apparent on the basal edge.