Grooved Axe

Grooved Stone Axe

Grooved Axes

Grooved stone axes are found in Oklahoma but they are not a common artifact in any locality. Most specimens have been found in the eastern section of the state in forested areas close to the Arkansas border. The grooved axe appears to have been associated with the Archaic period although it may have persisted into later times. Examples of grooved axes from excavations are rare and surface specimens are not plentiful. They have been found in association with Fourche Maline and Grove focus materials.

The grooved axe resembles the stone celt in having a wedge-shaped cutting edge for wood working. The axe, however, has a groove for mounting the axe close to the poll or hammer end of the implement (Figure 15). Grooved axes appear in many varieties throughout the Mississippi valley, but the Oklahoma axes are full grooved types. On this type, the groove, which was used in mounting the specimen on a wooden handle, completely encircles the body of the axe. In other localities there are variations in the prepared groove, as it is often three-quarter grooved and does not completely encircle the axe. This variation, to my knowledge, is not found in Oklahoma.


The Oklahoma specimens are fully grooved and with a rounded poll. They are commonly made of fine grained sandstone, limestone, or some similar material. Specimens of granite or other igneous rocks do exist but are more rare. The typical specimen is small in comparison with stone axes found in the Ohio valley region, and most of them have a total length measuring between 100 mm and 140 mm.

The stone axe was mounted onto a wooden handle for service. Although details of the prehistoric mounting method remain unknown for Oklahoma specimens, a satisfactory handle can be formed from a stick which is shaped or split to fit the grooves. Green wood can be shaped more easily, and if the axe is lashed tightly with green rawhide, a light and sturdy mount will result after some seasoning.

A number of experiments have been performed to manufacture grooved axes by primitive methods and then use the axe for cutting wood. A satisfactory stone axe can be made of hard stone in a few hours of working time, and trees can be chopped down though with more difficulty than with a metal axe.


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