Thursday, March 25, 2010


Scrapers: Above images

Flint scrapers are common artifacts that are represented in all of the archaeological assemblages found in Oklahoma. They were used chiefly for the preparation of hides and skins for clothing or bedding but were also used for the working of wood, bone, or other softer materials.

Scrapers were typically made from flakes without modification except to produce a scraping edge. A number of flakes were removed from the end or side of the flake to produce a thick wide-angled scraping edge. This thickened edge provided greater strength to the scraper bit and was less likely to damage the surface of the skin. Edge wear is very characteristic of scrapers and they must be occasionally resharpened in order to serve effectively. Consequently, scrapers became shorter and shorter in length with continued usage and resharpening. In fact, many of the scrapers found on sites were probably thrown away as they were no longer functional. Many of the scrapers found are large enough that they could have been held in the hand and used without any mounting. It seems probable, however, that most of them were mounted in a short wooden or bone handle. The finding of such mounted specimens, however, is extremely rare.

Scrapers are commonly divided into two broad types -- end scrapers and side scrapers, depending upon which portion of the flake was used to form the scraping edge. The end scrapers are typically spoon-shaped with one flat surface from the original flake, and the other a convex surface with the edge trimming at one end. Sometimes the convex surface has been more carefully shaped, possibly to facilitate some form of mounting.
Broken bifaces were sometimes trimmed and utilized as scrapers, and broken projectile points may have been trimmed to produce a scraper from the salvaged fragment. The side scraper was also made on a flake, but the side was used and this produced a longer and usually straighter scraping edge. The side scrapers are more variable in form and were probably hand held rather than having been mounted.

Scrapers vary considerably in size but most of them range between 20 mm and 60 mm although both smaller and larger examples are common.

One characteristic of the early Paleo-Indian type scrapers is the presence of small graver spurs (Figure 6a) which occur at one or both sides of the scraping edge. These do not always occur, but the presence of the graver spur is typical of the older type of scraper.

A type identified as a hafted scraper is also found. These were usually made from broken projectile points (Figure 6i-j). The hafted scraper is commonly associated with the Woodland periods in Oklahoma.

Scrapers are found in all of the archaeological assemblages in Oklahoma and are especially plentiful at sites where bison hunting played an important role in the economy.

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