Stemmed Hoe

Stemmed Hoes

Another chipped stone artifact that is commonly found in the eastern section of Oklahoma is the stemmed hoe. This is apparently a hoe or digging tool for many specimens exhibit use polish on the bit or cutting edge. They resemble the ovate spade or hoe except for the specially prepared stem section which facilitated the mounting onto a handle (Figure 12).

It should be noted that these artifacts are sometimes termed single-bitted flaked axes because of their general similarity to the double-bitted flaked axes. In this case, however, one end has been trimmed and reduced in size to form a stemmed section rather than having a double bit. It is quite possible that many of the stemmed hoes could have been used as single-bitted axe blades. Experimentation and studies of edge wear would certainly improve our understanding of this artifact.


The stemmed hoes are made by percussion chipping and tend to be rather crude in workmanship. The average length of the stemmed hoe falls between 80 mm and 140 mm. The stem section, intended for mounting into a socket or lashed onto a wooden handle, sometimes exhibits smoothing of the lateral edges. Most specimens are rather thick in cross section and are made of a gray colored quartzite material.

Information regarding the cultural placement of stemmed hoes is not as good as one would like, but they are commonly found associated with other forms of hoes or spades and flaked double-bitted axes; they appear to have been in use after the appearance of pottery. At the present time, the stemmed hoe would appear to have been popular from roughly AD 1 until AD 1000. The distribution is not well known but similar artifacts are found throughout eastern Oklahoma and the adjacent regions of the Ozarks, especially in western Arkansas.

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