[2008-09-04] Arrowhead knapped from semiconductor silicon boule

A knapped arrowhead in the style of Native American stone artifacts, in a thoroughly modern, shiny-metal-grey glass.

While examining a chunk of broken silicon boule on a bookshelf in a professor's office awhile back, it occurred to me that the material had all the properties modern flintknappers look for: attractive, glassy, conchoidally frangible, and obviously of modern manufacture. (This last is important because there is no reliable way to date stone artifacts, and thus the modern flintknapper runs the risk of contaminating the archealogical record if he or she works in natural materials.) Besides which, the concept of knapping out a primitive "stone" tool from a modern industrial material manufactured to make microchips is rather lovely, in my opinion.

I googled the idea to see if anybody else was already doing this, and, much to my surprise, couldn't find anything. I have dabbled in flintknapping myself but have not taken the time (which I understand is considerable) to develop any real skill with it. So I thought I would purchase a piece of industrial silicon and commission a skilled flintknapper (of which there are many on the web) to make me a knife or something from it. That's easier said than done, however, as even waste silicon is in high demand right now for the burgeoning solar industry, and so the pieces that appear on eBay are few and far between and generally pricy. So I set up an automatic search and resolved to bide my time. Then, just last week, this listing appeared, which not only suggests industrial silicon as a knapping material, but actually includes a photograph (reproduced here), of an arrowhead thusly made. The seller informs me that he bought the arrowhead from the same lapidary dealer that sold him the chunk of silicon he's auctioning, but that it was at a trade show and he does not remember the name or how to contact him.

last modified 2008-09-04