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Ground Stone Axes and Celts

Submitted by mccaffer on Fri, 03/07/2008 - 2:13pm

Ground stone axes and celts were also used for wood-working (Tolstoy 1971:286-287), and similar shaped tools are depicted in the Florentine Codex (Sahagún 1950-1982) used by carpenters (Figure 166). Based on ethnohistoric accounts and representations, carpentry was a male activity (Hellbom 1967).

Axes were made of light grey limestone, ground to an edge on at least one side. They were fairly thin (about 2 cm thick) and rectangular in shape. The most complete example found at UA-1 measured at least 12 cm in length and 6 cm in width.



Figure 166. Carpenters using axes and celts in construction

Celts were made of harder stone, and were usually smaller than axes. Five celts were recovered from UA-1. Two were made of diorite, with others made of silicified limestone, andesite, and greenstone (Wolfman 1968:25). Four small celts measured between 4-9 cm in length, 2-6 cm in width, and 1-3 cm in thickness. A larger celt measured 11 cm long, 6.5 cm wide, and 2 cm thick.

Little has been published on this artifact class, so the research potential rests primarily on the spatial distribution within the UA-1 site, and associations with other artifact classes. Specifically, if these were used as wood-working tools I would expect them to be found in association with chipped stone scrapers.

The distribution of celts and scrapers is presented in Figure 167. Only one celt was found in the upper levels of the site. In the occupation levels, one celt was found in Room 2, and a second was found beneath the floor of Room 3, possibly as a dedicatory offering. Two were found within the trash midden. The remaining axes and one celt were found in porch and patio contexts.

Although the sample size for these artifact classes is small, it is notable that they were concentrated in the occupation levels as opposed to the upper levels of extra-mural debris. This is in contrast to both projectile points and chipped stone scrapers, which were both more common in upper levels, and in the case of scrapers, in midden and burial contexts. This supports the suggestion that these tools may have been used for finished carpentry, practiced within the household compound. In contrast, chipped stone scrapers may have been used more away from the domestic site.



Figure 167. Spatial distribution of ground stone axes and celts

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