One misconception that I often hear is that the indians of Upper East Tennessee had to traverse great distances to find suitable Flint for their projectiles, knives, or bifaces. Nothing could be further from the truth. The photo above is a variation of Fort Knox Chert. This chert type is plentiful in both vein and nodule outcroppings in our region. This particular outcropping shows evidence of quarrying as most of the nodules appear to have smacked off.
Pictured Below: Nolichucky Quarry
What is true is that large blocks of high grade cherts are not near as visible on the landscape as compared to other regions. That’s one of the reasons you rarely stumble upon “arrowheads” or bifaces over 3-4 inches. I have tried to find suitable material in our region to knap (making arrowheads) out larger arrowheads with very little success due to the highly fractured and cracked interiors of the nodules.
Pictured Above: Nolichucky Flint
For lack of a better word, some of the Nolichucky flints have a certain dullness or density to the material. One of the most pleasant sounds a knapper can hear is that distinct snapping sound of a nice, clean flake being removed. I’ve rarely experienced that ping with Nolichucky Flints that you can hear with other cherts.
As you can from the above photo, you need large blanks of chert to make large bifaces (pictured right). The white chert is out of Oklahoma while the brown chert is out of Texas.