Archive for December 22nd, 2019

Unusual artifact may be prehistoric adze

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

A stone artifact discovered near Monroe, North Carolina, in 1973 is now believed to be an adze that may date as far back as 3,000 B.C. It is triangular and comes to a point, but at seven inches long, two inches high and 1.5 inches wide, it is obviously not an arrowhead, common finds in North Carolina. The grooved ring at the base of the widest part of the triangle is a key clue to its usage.

This suspected grooved adz is made out of local meta-argillite and has a deliberately modified area where a handle was likely attached. This distinct “neck” was created using a technique of pecking and grinding. Unlike a typical grooved axe, the bit end of this tool would have been oriented perpendicular to the handle and was not ground smooth. Note the edge damage on the bit end. An adz is woodworking tool used to dress, shape, or smooth timber and could have been used prehistorically to make wooden bowls, dugout canoes, or other wooden objects. It is unclear how old this object is, but if it was made during the time that many of the grooved axes were being made and used, it would likely date to the Late Archaic period (3000-1000 BC).

Assistant State Archaeologist David Cranford has created a 3D model of the tool stitching together 46 individual photos with modeling software. Even at moderate resolution you can get a good view of the chipping at the tip end.

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