Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bone Tools

Today marks the end of Pagan Culture's Witches in Fiction 2013... to the Bone blog party so I figured for my last entry I'd throw some cool anthropological bone info at you. During my studies I spent a lot of time studying about different North American Indian groups and the Iroquois were always a group that caught my eye. Of course it helped that one of my professors, Dr. Dean Snow, was also the authority on all this Iroquois.

bone toolsOne of the things the Iroquois were known for was their practice of making bone tools. Now most of you have heard about stone tools such as arrowheads, spear heads, and bi-faces. Those were popular among most tribes but the Iroquois used bone rather than stone. There were many different kinds of tools that they made from the bone and antlers of animals. Like many groups, the Iroquois believed that all parts of the animal should be used after killed for its meat.

One of the popular tools they made were awls which are like an axe, with a short handle attached so that the tool resembles a hoe. It is used for trimming and smoothing wood or bark. The figure above shows two sharp pointed awls and a knife made from bone.
bone arrow points
They also made arrows from bone as seen in the figure to the right. The two items on the side are the points and the bone in the center is the shaft. The arrow shaft could then be slipped into the hollow center of the bone in the arrow heads.

bone chisel and hook
The figure to left is a chisel made from a deer antler and a fish hook made from bone. A chisel could be made from a long piece of bone or antler. The end of the tool was ground to a sharp edge. Usually, the chisel was used to remove bark from logs, poles or standing trees. To use these chisels they were pushed with both hands and perhaps in some cases the shoulder as well. In addition, the Iroquois made digging sticks by sharpening the end of a wooden pole. They used these to loosen the soil where the posts for the longhouses were to go. There is some evidence that they made shovels from long wide bones or antlers to lift the dirt from the holes.

This makes me want to take the deer bone that I have, from a dig I went on, and make it into some sort of tool. There are actually archaeologists out there whose main job is to recreate different tools and practices of Native Americans and other groups. This is known as experimental archaeology and is one of the top ways to really understand cultures and their practices.

Figures and research from: The New York State Museum website,


Magaly Guerrero said...

Now I really, really, really want a knife made of bone. It just makes sense: I love blades + I love bones = I should have a very sharp blade made of lovely bones.

Anonymous said...

Not to parrot MG, but we should all have a very sharp blade made of a lovely bone! Great post, gorgeous Sam!

Sam Curtin said...

I feel the excact same way!

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