Sandstone Abraders

Sandstone Abraders from south-central Oklahoma

Stone Abrader

Stone abraders served the Indian as a file, hone, or whetstone in working other stones, shaping wood, or shaping bone tools. They are made of a granular type of stone, rough to the touch, and which would serve as an abrasive material. Most of the abraders found in Oklahoma are made of sandstone, usually rather coarse grained and rather easily broken.

One common use for an abrader was for the smoothing and polishing of stone artifacts, such as the celt. A suitable piece of sandstone would be used to smooth the surface and eliminate the pecking marks produced by the shaping process. The abrader shows flattened or worn areas with striations present from the polishing process. Generally, the stone used for such an abrader has not been specially shaped or prepared but was used for the purpose at hand and then discarded. Some specimens display more wear and use than others but there is no consistency in form other than that it is a convenient size to hold in the hand. Abrasion marks or worn grooves are commonly located in bedrock near living areas such as rockshelters where stone tools were smoothed and polished by rubbing them against the exposed outcrop.

Other stones, usually of harder material, often display abrasions and indications of use as an abrader. Some of these are the result of wear on a stone used by a flint knapper to dull the sharp edges of cores or bifaces during the knapping process. This smoothing or abrasion of the sharp feather edges strengthened the striking platform so that the desired flake could be properly detached. The rubbing stone or abrader for this purpose became worn with shallow grooves or worn surfaces.



The most common abraders found in Oklahoma, however, are those used for smoothing and shaping wooden arrows or for working bone tools, especially for sharpening the points of bone awls. These abraders tend to have been shaped although blocky pieces of sandstone were sometimes used without much modification, especially for honing bone tools. Abraders for smoothing arrowshafts are marked by a shallow U-shaped groove which runs along the face of the stone. They are commonly loaf-shaped or bar-shaped with the groove running lengthwise of the tool. These were made in pairs with matching grooves to be held in the hand for shaping and smoothing arrowshafts to a suitable diameter. Pairs of this tool, however, are found less frequently than single specimens (Figure 16a).

Abraders for sharpening bone awls or similar pointed tools are characterized by V-shaped grooves, usually of shorter length and with greater variation in width and depth. The typical awl sharpener is also loaf-shaped and commonly has grooves along all four sides of the stone. Whole specimens become broken easily and smaller fragments often display numerous grooves from use in sharpening bone awls (Figure 16).

Both the arrowshaft abrader and awl sharpener are very typical of sites in central and western Oklahoma associated with the Plains Villages. However, they also occur in some parts of eastern Oklahoma at a comparable time period, especially in northeastern parts of the state.

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