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Hi Ralph

I found these items in the Middle James River(the largest one was found in an old creek in Park Ridge NJ)  and was not sure if they were artifacts or simple rock formations as I really do not know much about this however they are unusual looking. The small round one is extremely smooth and very light. The middle size one is extremely smooth on one side and rough on the other.  Thanks for your help and sorry in advance if these are "just rocks"

Hi Gregg,

Axes are in a unique family of ground stone tools.  They come in a range of sizes, shapes and "configurations".  The most "recent" would be an azd or fully polished axe.  These were mounted inside of a handle in a "mortar and tennon" fashion.  The mortar being the tool and the tennon the handle.  The next configuration which is a bit older is a 1/2 or partly grooved axe.  With these ground stone tools, the axe head would be attached to the handle by way of sinue and a "groove" pecked into one side of the axe head.  The 3rd and oldes form is a fully grooved axe in which the groove for the halfting went all  the way around the axe and was mounted into a handle so that the wood would be "bent" around both sides of the axe and then fastened in place using sinue as a binding. These are the heaviest of the three basic types.

All started as a river coble or perhaps a quarried stone and then chipped to give it an edge and then ground using sand and anothr very hard stone to polish the edge of the blade and shape the rest of the tool.  These were very labor intensive tools to make and were highly prized possesions.  One rarely finds such tools in a river bed but rather in a site or perhaps a burial.  They are typically very elegant in form and function.  Dont' get me wrong there are some real ugly ones  too but these are the exception. So on the internet look up fully grooved stone axes, 3/4 or 1/2 grooved axes or azds.  to get an idea of  what these look like.



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Ralph Salier


Archaeologist for the last 30 years. Norh American generalist and Hopwell culture/Red Ocher culture specifically. Lithics Expert and Ground Stone tools.


Past/Present clients
Numerous museums in US and Canada. Several University Anthropology Departments.

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