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Lamoka Lost and Found
by James V. Fisher

Fisher, James V. (2001). "Lamoka Lost and Found". Indian Artifact Magazine. The Ovid Bell Press, Fulton MO. Vol. 20-1, pp. 5, 78-81. (© 2001, unauthorized reproduction prohibited.)

    Looking for artifacts in the Northeast tends to be a rather seasonal affair, particularly if you hunt sites that exist in the shadow of the Lake Erie snow machine. It was, however, a rather mild mid-November day in Western New York that set the stage for this memorable artifact hunt. The weather forecast was strangely accurate, the temperature neared a balmy 56 degrees. A few snow flakes had lilted from the sky earlier in the month, a telling sign of what was sure to come. In stark contrast, and true to the region's dynamic weather patterns, the mercury had actually soared near to seventy degrees just a few days after those menacing flurries appeared.  This unusual extension of an Indian Summer provided an opportunity  for a late Fall hunt on one of my most productive sites.
    Having preliminarily surveyed the field a couple of weeks before, I was rather confident that this hunt would be one to remember. The beans had been cleared, the ground had recently been tilled and a crop of winter wheat was quickly drilled to get a jump on next year's growing season. The steady rain I had hoped for over those two weeks was realized and it effectively washed away the sandy soil and exposed the lithic treasures that lay in wait.
    I had made arrangements for my friend Dan Long to join me. If anyone could appreciate what was likely to be found it was Dan. He has been a long-time collector of authentic artifacts and relishes the chance to wear out some shoe leather in the interest of gathering up the physical remains of the past. 
    The drive to the site took about one hour which gave us plenty of time to talk about artifacts we had recently acquired, our shared knapping hobby, and all of the other things that complement and cement a friendship. As we laced up our walking shoes and gathered our gear, including two

cameras, we talked about the prospect of jinxing ourselves. I  commented about the last time I had brought a camera with me on a fishing trip intent upon expending a roll of film on the impressive catches of the day. You know the rest of that story, the camera never came out of the case.
    We set out walking and eventually passed through a hedge row that had overgrown a small 19th century stone wall fence that marked the perimeter of the field. We hadn't put our eyes to the ground for more than one minute when I spotted the first find of the day. Laying fully exposed on the top of a furrow was a nearly complete Lamoka point made of dark gray, high grade Onondaga Chert.    The find was made on one of several small sandy knolls that overlook a series of cold, clear springs. The distant springs undoubtedly attracted game animals and the hunter-gatherer groups who sought them.   
    That first projectile pointed due East and seemed to encourage us to continue searching the other knolls that stretched in that direction. After some technical difficulties with the camera I managed to snap a picture of the find in-situ. I immediately felt relieved since the possibility of the camera jinxing us had faded so quickly.
    The Lamoka point I had found was

not unlike countless others that this site has generously given over to my custodial care. They tend to be rather crudely made via direct percussion only, likely with a small hammerstone. Lamoka points are sturdy and functional  dart points but are lacking in the area of lithic aesthetics that make other New York point types more desirable to collectors. 
    The local source of knappable material, located about 5 miles to the south, doesn't offer much that could result in exceptionally lengthy or wide points. Onondaga Chert often occurs sandwiched between layers of limestone having born the full weight of ice sheets that passed over the region during the last glacial event. The crushing effect of the glaciers left behind a lithic resource with fractures and hidden seams that plagued the Archaic knapper. Combined with the Lamoka's seemingly crude knapping skills the result is, predictably, a finished point that rarely exceeds two inches in length and often retains some of the original limestone cortex on the base. This trait is a well known hallmark of the Lamoka flintknapper.
    The Lamoka phase in the Western and Central subareas of New York state represents part of the Laurentian culture of the Archaic stage. Carbon 14

Two typical Lamoka projectile points. First find of the day at left.