Raw flint removed from Flint Ridge in eastern Ohio
Ohio State Gemstone: Flint
Ohio's geologic history was just right to create really good flint. Flint is formed by a geologic process whereby the softer limestones and shales are replaced with a much harder silica that creates a form of quartz. Over time the hard, yet brittle forms cracks. These fine cracks in the stone make it easy to shape with a sharp tap. Although flint is much harder than most other stones, the cracks can be manipulated and struck to quickly form the sharpened edges.
Ohio's flint has all the right ingredients to make for flint that can be quickly and accurately struck in the hands of skilled craftsmen. In those hands the crafts can made extremely sharp edges, as sharp or in some instances sharper than the finest surgical tools available today.
Flint found in eastern and northeastern Ohio has all of the best qualities of good flint plus, it's beautiful. The unusual color variations are what make this flint a prized gemstone.
Gemstones: there's no clear definition of what qualifies as a gemstone. Monetary value is not considered, but desirability is, color also is a qualifier, so to is the scarcity of the mineral crystal. To be of value, the gemstone needs to be modified from its natural state. That can include cutting, polishing, and smoothing.
Flent is formed through a natural process where limestone and shale are infused with much harder silica, one of the main ingredients in glass. This makes the stone so it has a high content of quartz and makes the stone not only very hard, but also very brittle. It also can be polished to a bountiful luster.
The fact that it is brittle, meant the stone could be easily chipped exposing a razor sharp edge -- ideal for making arrowheads.
Flint Ridge a chain of narrow hills that extended from just east of Newark almost to Zanesville. Just below the surface in most places is an irregular layer of flint which can be a just a few inches thick to several feet in thickness. In some places the top soil covering the flint has been eroded, exposing the layer of flint.
The Mound Builders, and in particular the Hopewell Culture, used the resources from Flint Ridge for not only making their own spear, arrowhead and knife blades, they also traded this valuable resource to other groups from around the country, Their use dates back some 12,000 years ago. But there is now evidence that Flint Ridge was also a resource for even earlier inhabitants of the area. When archeologists began excavating a cave along the Ohio - Pennsylvania border, that found flint in excavated areas some 11 feet deep that dated back about 20,000 years which was before the Mound Builders arrived in the Ohio River valley.