by David A. Easterla, Ph.D., Maryville, Missouri
Recently the author obtained an axe that appeared to be very crudely made. However, upon closer examination, the situation was the opposite. This fascinating % groove axe is complete and undamaged, yet it has the roughest surface that this writer has ever seen in handling thousands of axes (see photos). The axe has almost perfect morphology and symmetry, yet it would undoubtedly be a reject to most top grade, hard-core collectors.
The rock type of the axe is a metamorphic granite gneiss, which is very rare for axe making, and certainly new to this writer. As observed in the photos below, the blackish mineral is hornblende (6 hardness) and is very rough and sharp and protrudes from the axe surface considerably. The light colored minerals are feldspars (5 '/2 hardness) which are slightly softer and do not protrude from the axe surface.
This axe (% groove) is Archaic and thousands of years old. Obviously, over such a long period of time, the differential chemical makeup and hardness of the minerals composing the rock of this axe have become quite evident through the weathering process involving oxidation, acidification, leaching, dissolving, etc. Although unknown, the substrate material in which this axe was buried certainly involved elements of serious weathering consequences. Although unknown and unproven, based upon the symmetry, color, and morphology of the axe, this author strongly suspects that when first made, this axe was not only a beautifully colored black and white (or pink) lined (layered) axe but also possessed a very smooth and polished surface that the maker took considerable pride. Thus, this axe has become one of the writer's favorite, since it not only hints of the original maker's skills, but also shows the beauty of "Mother Nature's" weathering and aging over thousands of years!
The axe has beautiful patina and is six inches long. It was found by James Rogers on 7 June 2009 on a sloping edge of Brushy Creek, approximately three miles south of Cameron, Clinton County, Missouri.
Side view and bottom edge view of a rare metamorphic granit gneiss. A groove axe.
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