Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The image above shows a gunflint discovered at the Beaubassin/Fort Lawrence archaeological site. A gunflint was used to create a spark to light the gunpowder inside the barrel of a gun, to propel the shot. Gunflint production started in the 1600’s with the invention of snaphance guns (Lenk 1965).

All gunflints were manufactured mainly in France and England, and then imported (Woodward 1960). Usually, English flints are dark grey to black whereas the French flints are easily distinguished by their honey-yellow or blonde color. It was usually held intact by a strip of leather or lead.

Natives utilized gunflints differently than Europeans. The Natives fired and retouched their gunflints bifacially (Witthoft 1966), while Europeans worked their gunflints unifacially. In the archaeological record, a gunflint worked bifacially most likely has been utilized by Natives. Gunflint may also have been traded with Natives, who found these objects very useful. The next image shows a scraper, which is an aboriginal tool similiar to the gunflint that was used either for hideworking or woodworking purposes:

To see the flintlock mechanism: http://arc.id.au/Flintlock.html

Article inspired by Colin QUINN, «An experimental use-wear and functional analysis of gunflints», [PDF], Lambda Alpha Journal, Department of Anthropology, University Notre Dame, Volume 34, 2004, p.60-71.


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