Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ground Stone Workshop

Hi all,

The world of stone tools is of course so much larger than flaked projectile points.  Ground stone artifacts played a major role in processing food, making other tools, jewelry, house construction, warfare and a myriad of other uses.  The other day we were lucky enough to have Jenny Adams come out to the field school to give a ground stone artifact workshop.  Jenny is the author of “Ground stone Analysis: A Technological Approach”.  Her exceptional book details the use of stone tools that were shaped by grinding and pecking and illustrates the methods that archaeologists use to collect meaningful information about these kinds of items.  Here are a few highlights from the workshop!
Grinding corn with a mano (hand held grinder) and metate (large U-shaped basin) proved to be quite the task and showed how much effort really went in to creating a meal for hungry families.  These formal items are often found within prehistoric room blocks associated with mealing bins where corn flour was produced and collected.  

The groundstone axes and war clubs were amazing.  The effort to create these tools is astounding to think of.  If it took me an hour to cut through an atlatl blank with a stone saw, imagine the effort expended on the creation of these items!  The size of the artifacts were a little unsettling as well; I would not like to have this coming at me, nope, no thanks.

Stone drills were often used to hollow out pumice or other vesicular volcanic stone to create smoking pipes.  The stone drills performed fantastically and made relatively (as in it still takes a while) quick work of stone pipe bowls. 

The use of tabular stones for grinding small holes on shell for ornamentation was an interesting endeavor that illustrated the time investment locked up in a single necklace. 

The groundstone implement for straightening arrow shafts was also pretty fantastic to see in action.  I would like to have one of these little gadgets for sure.  By passing the arrow shaft back and forth the shaft becomes smoother and straighter, all the better for zipping though the air!

thanks for coming out Jenny!!

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