Clear Fork Gouges

Grady County gouges

Clear Fork Gouges

The Clear Fork gouge is the name given to a type of artifact that is common in certain sections of Texas. It appears to represent a specialized type of tool that was used for some particular purpose.

In spite of considerable discussion and study, however, the function of the Clear Fork gouge is not clearly understood.

Numerous examples of Clear Fork gouges have been found in Oklahoma as well as in other sections of the country outside of Texas. It appears to be typically associated with the Plains region during Archaic times.

The gouge is represented by a roughly triangular or sub-rectangular shaped artifact with a distinctive gouge-like cutting edge at one end (Figure 7). This gouge-like end is characterized by a wide-angled edge, resembling those present on typical scrapers, and this appears to be the working edge of the tool. The rest of the gouge is usually bifacially flaked although this is not always the case. There are numerous examples in which the back surface clearly represents the outside cortex of a pebble or small nodule from which the gouge was made. The lateral


edges are sometimes smoothed, either from use wear or possibly for purposes of mounting the gouge or dulling sharp edges for easier handling of the artifact.

The use of this tool is not well understood. The wear that is present usually occurs on the back surface immediately behind the gouge cutting edge as if the artifact were pulled or pushed as a wood working plane. Many of the gouges, however, are so small that they appear unsatisfactory for this purpose unless they were mounted in some form of handle.

The Oklahoma specimens tend to be somewhat smaller in size than many that are found to the south in Texas. The typical Oklahoma specimen has a length falling between 35 mm and 60 mm although both smaller and larger specimens occur. Information about the gouge in Oklahoma is not well known and specimens are often not correctly identified but are considered to be broken bifaces or crude preforms. The Oklahoma examples appear to be associated with the Archaic period and are to be associated with the prairie or plains region more than the eastern part of the state.


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