Native American Work Stone

camsterman48

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Jun 14, 2015
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This stone was found in the late 1950's on the ground at a fair in the Southern region of Kentucky. Has been kept my possession for at least 50 years now, and I'm curious to find out the purpose of this tool. Some details the pictures missed, a sharp point on the top end of the rock, a distinct thumb impression on one side, as though it was held often. A very blunt, flat side beneath the point, and the very distinct sharp marks carved into the opposite bottom end of the tool. It measures around 8' long, and 3' wide. Thank you for any answers that you can offer, have a blessed day.
 

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Thats interesting. I do see the chatter marks or cuts in it. May have been a natural stone used as a hoe. May never know its true purpose.
Welcome to T-net.
 

Interesting, and I would pick it up. Take it out and hammer on something and see how quick it breaks and then you may have some idea if it was used as a tool.
 

Looks like natural rock to me, not saying someone didn't use it as is for something.

After all the rock Cain used to Kill Able would be an artifact...

RGINN, I love your avatar..... Watched the series again not long ago..
 

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It's probably just pretty much a rock. After all, what ever would you use this for? Oh yeah, Clay Basket says hey, TH. (the younger version.)
 

It's probably just pretty much a rock. After all, what ever would you use this for? Oh yeah, Clay Basket says hey, TH. (the younger version.)

The only thing I can think of is if it were sandstone, for instance, all those lines, as seen in the first photo of the rock, could be bone tool sharpening marks. The sandstone block seen here is a multipurpose sharpening stone, having shallow grooves from sharpening bone awls, as well as one long whetstone surface for sharpening hardstone bits. On the rock in question here, it's those lines that catch my attention. On bone awl sharpening stones, the grooves are simply created by rubbing the awl on the rock. Which would usually be sandstone. This is only a suggestion. The rock may still be simply a rock. Just wonder how all those grooves got there; Ky. was not glaciated. Enlarge the first photo in this thread. How did all those grooves get there? They can't be glacial scratches if found in Ky. Might they not be produced by man?? Again, just a thought......
 

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It's probably just pretty much a rock. After all, what ever would you use this for?
I appreciate the reply, but I don't think this is "just a rock". Keep in mind that this was picked up in the late 50's off the ground at a county fair. My mother (the one who found it and has kept it all this time) said that she thinks someone might had picked it up from a booth that had artifacts like that and possibly dropped it or left it there to pick up later considering it was completely clean and above ground. Also, the thumb impression is WAY too smooth and "hold-able" to be just a rock. Maybe it's coincidence, but doubtfully so. Thank you again for the reply! I appreciate it and if you have any other solutions as to what it is I would love to hear. Have a good day. :)
P.S. Our theory, from the shape and distinct features of the rock, it was some sort of grinding stone before it was used to sharpen tools. Possible the tool they used to grind corn down, or plants for salves, considering the blunt side directly next to the sharp end. That seems like the best answer of what it was used for.
 

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The only thing I can think of is if it were sandstone, for instance, all those lines, as seen in the first photo of the rock, could be bone tool sharpening marks.
Yes, very true! I can tell you from seeing it in person that it DEFINITELY has hand made marks in it. I don't know for sure that it was any sort of native american sharpening stone, but it has definitely been used to sharpen some knife, tool, or anything in between. Those aren't marks from weathering. Thank you so much for the reply! Great synopses of the tool! Have a great day.
 

camsterman48 you could take that and get it under greater magnification maybe under a microscope and see if there's some wear or abrasion which would indicate use. That's an interesting rock that Charl posted, but I don't think they're tool sharpening marks. That third pic, I believe those marks were placed there by man for some reason, but not to sharpen a tool. I see a lot of what archaeologists call tool sharpening marks, and they have a little different look, but could be. In this part of the country there was no need to carry a rock around to sharpen your awl, as they just used the rocks already in place in the landscape.
 

camsterman48 you could take that and get it under greater magnification maybe under a microscope and see if there's some wear or abrasion which would indicate use. That's an interesting rock that Charl posted, but I don't think they're tool sharpening marks. That third pic, I believe those marks were placed there by man for some reason, but not to sharpen a tool. I see a lot of what archaeologists call tool sharpening marks, and they have a little different look, but could be. In this part of the country there was no need to carry a rock around to sharpen your awl, as they just used the rocks already in place in the landscape.

It must be the case that a good stone to sharpen can be found rather easily. But there is a class of artifacts known as abrading stones.

"They have simple shapes produced by use, not by design. They usually appear as pebbles in various shapes with smooth facets produced by wear from rubbing, or with irregular grooves, thought to have been used for sharpening bone awls." (A Handbook of Indian Artifacts from Southern New England")
The various abrading stones includes whetstones, shaft abraders, sinewstones, and rubbing stones.

The sandstone sharpening stone I posted assumed most of it's present shape directly from usage. It was not used just once, or for just one purpose. So, it would have been retained as a tool of sorts, and not just picked up once, used, and then tossed down again. Anymore then a celt was used once and discarded. In other words, they did retain some of these stones to use on a regular basis. Below is an image of that sandstone block. Demonstrating that it was also used as a whetstone. The surface seen was perfect for sharpening bits. The grooves seen in the earlier photos are interpreted as being the result of sharpening bone. But, grinding points could also be accomplished using a stone like this, and those grooves can also result from grinding the base of a point for instance.

Of course I can't speak where Texas artifact classes are concerned. But here in New England we do recognize several types of "abrading stones", at least some of which were retained and used repeatedly. In the case of whetstones, they are often fashioned from scratch, making them a more formal type of artifact compared to other abrading stones. But in the case of this sandstone block, it shows usage as a multipurpose abrading stone. And being sandstone, it's a natural sandpaper anyway....

I don't make anything of the shape of the rock in this thread. I don't buy into the "fits perfect in hand" theory. I don't know what created the grooves seen in the first photo. But I should think, if man made, rubbing something on that rock would produce them. If the texture of the rock is good for abrading, it might have been retained for use more then once. But again, I'm not in a position to question your knowledge of what natives did in Texas where abrading stones are concerned. If they used axes at all, would they have not used whetstones at least??

Whetstones are probably the only type of abrading stone that were often fashioned from scratch.....
 

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I'm not in Texas, Charl. My archaeological training and research was mostly in SW Oklahoma, specifically the Plains Village Farmer culture. I have a very fine loaf shaped sandstone arrow shaft abrader/straightener that I picked up on the South Canadian River and that was something they carried with them and probably had washed out from a burial. (This was used with another similar stone, but I didn't find that.) In Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah where the landscape is rocky I have seen shallowed out places in the rocks as a result of grinding, not much bigger in size of your hand, that were used for forming and shaping axes or celts. Come to think of it though, I have seen those axe sharpening impressions in Palo Duro Canyon, which is in Texas. Great place if you ever get the chance to go there.
 

The only thing I can think of is if it were sandstone, for instance, all those lines, as seen in the first photo of the rock, could be bone tool sharpening marks. The sandstone block seen here is a multipurpose sharpening stone, having shallow grooves from sharpening bone awls, as well as one long whetstone surface for sharpening hardstone bits. On the rock in question here, it's those lines that catch my attention. On bone awl sharpening stones, the grooves are simply created by rubbing the awl on the rock. Which would usually be sandstone. This is only a suggestion. The rock may still be simply a rock. Just wonder how all those grooves got there; Ky. was not glaciated. Enlarge the first photo in this thread. How did all those grooves get there? They can't be glacial scratches if found in Ky. Might they not be produced by man?? Again, just a thought......
The only thing I can think of is if it were sandstone, for instance, all those lines, as seen in the first photo of the rock, could be bone tool sharpening marks. The sandstone block seen here is a multipurpose sharpening stone, having shallow grooves from sharpening bone awls, as well as one long whetstone surface for sharpening hardstone bits. On the rock in question here, it's those lines that catch my attention. On bone awl sharpening stones, the grooves are simply created by rubbing the awl on the rock. Which would usually be sandstone. This is only a suggestion. The rock may still be simply a rock. Just wonder how all those grooves got there; Ky. was not glaciated. Enlarge the first photo in this thread. How did all those grooves get there? They can't be glacial scratches if found in Ky. Might they not be produced by man?? Again, just a thought......

Found in northeast Mississippi on a creek bank running beside a field that was OBVIOUSLY** a settlement years and years ago. Wonderful pieces found here.❤️
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Found in northeast Mississippi on a creek bank running beside a field that was OBVIOUSLY** a settlement years and years ago. Wonderful pieces found here.❤️
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... this specimen is not an artifact, it shows no modification from mans hand. Plz make a new post with your pieces, I would like to see what all you find..
 

Fat and Charl are very knowledgeable on artifacts and I also have to agree, sorry, they are not artifacts, they are natural stones formed by mother nature.
 

are you suggesting that a "thumb impression" would develop over time on stone from use?
 

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I agree with Fat and Charl, that stone does not appear to have any indication of alteration by man.

The "thumb impression" is most likely a segment of the stone with broke away during millennia of weathering - the freeze thawing action that broke off a weak segment of the stone.
 

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