Desert Peoples / Native Peoples

Bifacial Chert Knife

Bifacial Chert Knife

Cahuilla: pásivat, túkvash
Chemehuevi: wihi
Mojave: ‘ahkwe

The ancestral Indigenous communities of Southern California quarried, collected, and chipped a variety of stone types for utilitarian and ornamental use. Specialists within an Indigenous community perfected and passed on the techniques of stone chipping and other precision tool-making skills across generations. This fairly large chert knife has a precisely flaked worked edge encircling the entire piece, and the thinnest section is still sharp.

Chert is one of the better stone types for making tools as it flakes cleanly, especially when heat treated. Expertly flaked stone knives can have extremely sharp cutting edges. Tool-quality chert comes from many sources in the Mojave Desert. The chert for this knife may have come from Castle Mountains, 100 miles northwest of Joshua Tree.

Chert. L 11.5, D 7.3, T 1 cm
Joshua Tree National Park, JOTR 5498