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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Mitchell Chert



Mitchell chert, 44SX0140, Sussex County, Virginia.

Type Cherts

Collection Location:
This quarry is composed of multiple outcrops which are located on high hills about ¾ of a mile north of the Nottoway River and northwest of the junction of Hardwood Creek and the river in Sussex County, Virginia. Some Mitchell chert may have been obtained as small irregular masses from within the quartz. There is some evidence at the quarry that large detached masses of quartz from the vein may have been fractured by hammerstones to reach good quality chalcedony and chert. This area is within the Fall Zone and rapids are common here.

Description
Mitchell chert occurs within crevices and as a secondary or replacement material in several large quartz veins. It is characterized by several distinctive features. First, some of this material has included zones of vein quartz, while other samples show chalcedony forming as thin multidirectional platelets or blades giving the material a macroscopic fibrous appearance when viewed as a two dimensional flake surface. Still other samples appear sugary and sparkle from numerous small crystal surfaces when examined in strong light. Colors tend to range from white through dark brown and some jasper occurs at the quarry. Much of this material is light cream, gray, blue, violet, pink or yellow.

Distribution
Mitchell chert doesn’t appear to have traveled far. Most artifacts are found within 20 miles of the quarry along the Fall Line and in the Interior Coastal Plain of Virginia.

Cultural Implications
Mitchell chert was employed by the Paleoindian Clovis hunters, and by the Palmer people of the Early Archaic, but use by other groups was infrequent.

References

Prepared By McAvoy 1999