Pecking Hammers

The pecking hammer is a common artifact on many archaeological sites in Oklahoma and elsewhere. It was used for the pecking process during manufacture of ground stone tools. In the manufacture of a stone celt or grooved axe, for example, after a suitable piece of stone was selected the initial shaping of the implement took place by a pecking process. This involved hitting the stone with a hammerstone or pecking hammer to crush or crumble a small amount of stone from the potential artifact. When the stone was struck with a hammer the point of impact resulted in a small "peck mark" where the hammerstone crushed a small area which was removed. These peck marks resulting from the pecking process are commonly present on stone artifacts if they have not been smoothed and polished by grinding to remove them.

The hammerstone that is used to produce the peck marks during this manufacturing process is termed a pecking hammer. They are normally made of flint or some equally hard material that will be effective on the stone item being manufactured. An angular block of flint, convenient to hold in the hand, serves very well as a pecking hammer. Of course, not only does the item being struck by the hammerstone reflect a peck mark, but the hammerstone is also impacted and this action will soon round off edges, sharp points, or other


irregularities of the pecking hammer. An angular block of flint with several sharp edges serves best as a pecking hammer. With continued use, however, these edges become dulled and rounded so if the pecking hammer is used long enough, it will eventually become spherical or ball-shaped. By this time, of course, it is less effective as a pecking hammer because the angular areas have been removed and it is not as efficient. Moreover, many pecking hammers become broken or split in two during the pecking process and must be replaced.

The pecking hammers vary in size and form, but most of them are between 50 mm and 80 mm in diameter and are convenient to hold during the pecking process. The form varies from angular blocks in which very little battering is evident to specimens that have been used so much that they have become well rounded ball-shaped forms. Examples with various amounts of battering are shown in Figure 13. Pecking hammers are likely to be found on any site where ground stone items occur. They also served to roughen the surface of milling stones or handstones (manos) which had become worn smooth from usage. Well rounded specimens are sometimes called "game balls" by collectors.


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