Friday, April 24, 2009

Can you guess what this image represents?

It is the edge of a stone tool under 200x magnification. By comparing this image with experimental tools used on different materials, we know this was used on hard wood. This artifact (see below) is called an “endscraper” or a keeled endscraper.

This one was recovered from the Shoop site (36DA20) excavations located in Dauphin County on June 9, 2008. It is made on a piece of Onondaga Chert. This type of stone is very distinctive and is found in western New York, 350 kilometers from the Shoop site.

This site is a Paleoindian base camp and it dates to approximately 11,000 years ago. This past summer, over 800 artifacts were recovered in the first ever scientific excavation at Shoop.

Although endscrapers can be found at sites dating to later times, they are especially common during the Paleoindian Period, (11,000 to 10,000 years ago) and the Early Archaic Period, (10,000 to 9,000 years ago). Some sites, Shoop among them, contain hundreds of these tools.

Typically, they are small and triangular in shape. They are called endscrapers because the working edge is along the distal end of the flake, opposite the striking platform. The lateral edges have been shaped so it could be inserted into a wooden or bone handle. Some are notched as part of the hafting process.

We assume that these tools would have started out several inches long and that they were used in handles. This one has been re-sharpened to the point where it is too small for further use.

Their function is problematical. Their steep edge attests to their scrapping function but the material that was being scraped is usually debatable. Similar tools were used by the Inuit (Eskimo) to clean animal hides for clothing and shelter.

Many archaeologists feel these were used during the Paleoindian Period to clean caribou hides. However, based on the microscopic analysis just completed on this tool, we now know it was used in working a hard wood, possibly in the manufacture of wooden handles.
For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

No comments:

Post a Comment