For those who know me, it is not a secret that I enjoy strange artifacts. The fact that I get excited over axes with wierd salvage grooves and broken points that were renotched in ancient times and other such things is something I take alot of ribbing on from my collector friends. Often, while at a show and my friends are scouring the frames for underpriced Paleos and Dovetails, I am most often seeing what has found its way to the bottom of a junk box that might be an artifact anomoly :-) Well, here is my latest anomoly treasure ...
This was a gift from a friend who knows of my penchant for the odd. Knowing that I enjoy salvaged items - he gave this to me as a salvaged part of a pick bannerstone. However, after looking at it for a few minutes, there was no doubt in my mind this was a tool of its owns. This was not a salvaged pick - this was actually a whole something. (Even though it might have been made from the broken part of another artifact)
The piece has several destinctive traits:
First - there is a groove around the lower portion of the piece. This is where my friend thought it was tied back together as a pic bannerstone or atl-atl weight that broke in two. If that were the case, the groove going around the mid-section would have not have served to tie it back together in a secure fashion. This groove is a suspension groove, placed there so a cord could be wrapped completely around the item allowing it to be suspended. Second - each side of the piece has deep grooves in it. These grooves are not intential gouges to stylize the item - they are worn into the surface from prolonged use. These grooves are identical to the grooves found on abraiding stones used for grinding the edges of a flint preform during the manufacturing process of turning a flint blank into a usable point or knife.
Third - there are "tally marks" on both sides of the upper portion of the item. Now, I have found that tally marks and etching are very often placed on damaged or salvaged slate artifacts, yet no one knows why. My friend assumed this was another sign this was a damaged and salvaged piece as it had tally marks. However - often hand tools had these etched lines in them to help keep an item from slipping during use. Just as our socket wrenches today have cross-hatched shanks to keep them from slipping, these tallys were put in place to help the user hang onto the piece. So - what we have here is not a salvaged piece that was tied back together, but rather an abraiding stone used for flintknapping.
The grooves were worn into both sides from repeated use and contact with sharp flint.
The suspension grooves were so that the tool could be suspended from the wrist to keep it handy - just as ancient man did with many of their skinning knives such as the Waller knife.
The tally marks were cut into the sides to help hold the item from slipping during use.
So this is my latest unique item for my collection - gotta love those relics that make us scratch our head a bit as we figure them out - hope you enjoyed! Jim Bennett