Getting a handle on ground stone: a technological analysis of the ground stone axes, adzes, and gouges in the George Frederick Clarke collection

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University of New Brunswick


This research project is based on the technological analysis of a selection of edged, heavy ground stone tools (i.e., axes, adzes, gouges) in the George Frederick Clarke Collection; a private artifact assemblage acquired and curated by the University of New Brunswick. In this research, I use attribute analysis to better understand the linkages between artifact morphology, hafting, tool function, and human behavior. Three key components are offered in this research: 1) the development of a classification scheme for the ground stone axes, adzes, and gouges at the center of this research; 2) the identification of possible haft types for these artifacts, and; 3) the integration of regional data through which interpretations of tool function and human behavior are made possible. As is shown in the research, inferences based on morphology and hafting allow archaeologists to interpret a formerly inaccessible (i.e., due to organic decomposition) component of ground stone tools. I suggest that biconvex tools would have been secured in bound or socketed hafts, whereas plano-convex tools would have been secured in elbow or socketed-elbow hafts, and that depending on the stone/haft orientation, these tools would have been swung differently by the user. With regards to chronology, the research corroborates the dominant interpretation on the Maritime Peninsula that technological changes amongst edged, heavy ground stone tools seem to occur around the same time as shifts in heavy woodworking/birch bark technologies. I conclude that in addition to excavation, future research into use-wear, petrography, and morphology would bring forth new interpretations of a commonly under-studied Pre-Contact technology on the Maritime Peninsula.