Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/608

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

shape a pebble that it might better meet the needs of a club-head or hatchet called for little skill, and the labor of making an axe has recently been shown to be but slight; but the idea of symmetry was developed and cultivated until a weapon was finally produced that can not be improved upon. The same is true of chipping from flint points for arrow-shafts. A mere splinter of stone, if sharp and narrow, would be as effective as any shape that could be devised; but such chance splinters do not appear to have been used, except directly after the invention of the bow and arrow; and, so far as is now discoverable, a series of artistically designed patterns have been in use for hundreds of years. Fig. 1 represents four arrow-points such as are common everywhere in the valley of the Delaware. The flint-worker who made these had something more than mere utilitarianism in his constitution. A love of the beautiful, of symmetry, of neatness, call it what you will, was well developed. Not one of these would kill a bird or beast one whit quicker than the simple triangular arrow-point; and yet these more elaborate forms are more abundant than those of simpler outline.

I am tempted to suggest that possibly the late (comparatively speaking) use of jasper, here in the valley of the Delaware, may have been generally adopted largely because of the bright colors of that material. Of various tints, and often so veined that even a small object might be partycolored, it is little wonder that the use of jasper became so wide-spread, and argillite in a measure neglected; and yet the latter served every purpose, and from the days of Palaeolithic man to the coming of the Dutch and Swedes was never discarded. But argillite is dull gray when old, and never bright or glossy, however newly chipped; while the jasper was red or yellow, green, blue, or variegated, and never lost its brilliancy. Little wonder it was in such demand, and the labor of mining undergone. Its color, doubtless, had much to do with its adoption.

Symmetry, as developed in fashioning the axe and celt, which were pecked and not chipped, as were arrow-points, soon led to the same methods being applied to stone for the production of more elaborately designed objects, and the so-called "ceremonial" forms were made. Fig. 2 represents a nearly faultless example of these common "relics," the purpose of which can only be conjectured. The Indian who shaped this specimen was no "'prentice-hand." He may not have been an artist in the common acceptation of that term; but he needed, to say the least, very little instruction to make him one. Objects of this character are of such remarkable abundance, although seldom of such beauty of finish as is this, that the relic-hunter in his tramps over the fields is continually wondering what they were intended for. I