Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Odd Smooth Stone

Decided I should stop telling about this stone that has made me curious and post it so I can get comments from people here. The picture below gives a general idea of the shape from the "top". Note the lines on the side in the lower part of the picture.
And this next picture shows it from the "bottom". Note the three holes, almost looking drilled.In this picture it is hard to see the lines radiating from one of them.
The next picture shows why one person said it might be a bird effigy stone. Not sure he was right, but he was the only one of three men I showed it to who looked at it for more than an instant and who didn't say it was just a natural rock. It crossed my mind that they might have looked at it more closely if it hadn't been handed to them by a woman but maybe I was just feeling irritated. That white is just shine. I wetted the stone for a couple of these photos.

Now here I am holding it in the way that is so natural. Two of the fingers on the left side here each naturally find a little indentation that fits, and likewise the thumb fits the contour of the stone.And when it is held as it is above, you end up with the point, the sharpest tip of which has broken off, in the perfect position to mark or incise, say, a design on pottery or even maybe to put holes in leather, as seen below. It fits so well that I could easily use it for something like that and have less problems with slippage than with most modern tools. the hand fit is so firm and tight.
In the next two pictures I tried to capture the three shallow lines that radiate from the largest hole. I have no idea why they are there. They only show up in certain light. in the first picture the stone is wet and you can kind of see them. They also show up in the fuzzier picture below it.

The holes on the bottom would not have to do with the possible use as an awl or drawing tool. I have tried and there is no natural way to hold it firmly as there is the other way, not if you want to keep your fingers free of the holes. I haven't posted a picture that shows the side where the thumb matches the contour but there are a couple of shallow straight lines on that side as well.

So there it is. Any words of wisdom, anyone? Thanks!


pwax said...

What do you think this was used for? Maybe part of a fire-starting kit?

pwax said...

Speculating wildly: Imagine its use in a bow-and-drill arrangement: The hole for the back end of the drill and the pointy part might help start the hole in the wood being drilled. Meanwhile the lines radiating from the hole could be the result of the pin riding out of the hole.

theseventhgeneration said...

Here's an excerpt I found from an old writing on Google Books: "Bird-stones. A name given to a class of prehistoric stone objects of undetermined purpose, usually resembling or remotely suggesting the form of a bird. In many cases the resemblance is so slight that without the aid of a series of specimens grading downward from the more realistic bird representations through successive simplifications the life form would not be suggested. In its simplest form the body is an almost featureless bar of polished stone. Again, the ends are curved upward giving a saddle shape but usually the head tail and eyes are differentiated, and in the more graphic forms the tail is expanded and turned upward to balance the head. The most remarkable feature is the pair of projecting knobs, often on rather slender stems, representing the eyes, giving some what the effect of a horned animal. These objects are most plentiful in the Ohio valley and around the great lakes, and occur sparingly in the S. and to the westward beyond the Mississippi. ..."

Here is a link to the book: "Handbook of American Indians north of Mexico, Volume 1", edited by Frederick Webb Hodge

It's interesting. They talk about how these bird-stones may have been "fastened to the top of the heads of women as an indication that they are pregnant."

Also, it's worth clicking on the link to see the images in the book, as the second to last image (e) bears a slight resemblance, I think, to your stone.

Geophile said...

pwax: I thought of the same possibility concerning those lines--that they came from the drill riding out of the hole. Beats me what it originally was for, but it certainly gives the impression that it was heavily used over a long period of time. Your guess is a good one.

7thgen, Thank you for that. Very interesting, and it does bear a resemblance to that category of artifact. You have both helped me to feel more confident that my first inclination to think it is more than just a stone was not just wild fantasy. I guess I'll hang onto it. Thank you!