Stone Gorgets

Stone Gorgets

Stone gorgets are found chiefly in the eastern sections of Oklahoma, although occasional specimens may be found in almost any part of the state. They are not common artifacts at any site, but sufficient numbers of them have been found that they would not be considered rare. This artifact is much more common in the Great Lakes region where it is associated with the Archaic and Woodland periods. Oklahoma appears to lie on the western periphery for the distribution of these artifacts.

The term gorget is used for items which are perforated with two or more holes. The term itself implies that the object was worn around the throat or suspended on the breast. They are commonly called "ceremonial stones" by collectors, and it is most likely that the stone gorget had some social significance. Exactly what this was still eludes us, and it is probable that it differed from group to group.

The stone gorgets are usually quite thin in cross section and were made from a flattened piece of shale, slate or similar material. Although some styles tend to be thicker than others, most specimens fall between 8 mm and 12 mm in thickness. The gorget was manufactured by a grinding and polishing process. In preparing the initial preform, it was sometimes roughly shaped by percussion and the use of a hammerstone, which is still evident on Figure 25c. These initial shaping scars, however, are usually ground out with smoothing and polishing of the surface. The perforations were usually drilled after the final shaping of the gorget, and the placement of the

 

 

two holes usually depends upon the outline of the specimen. The bow-tie and reel-shaped forms, for example, have the holes placed close together at the center (Figure 25b and d); long oval-shaped forms have the holes placed far apart toward the ends (Figure 25a). The perforations often show wear from a cord suggesting how the object was suspended. Talley marks are sometimes present on the edges (Figure a ').

Gorgets that were broken were commonly salvaged or repaired. Breaks often occurred at the perforation and in such a case the broken edge was smoothed over and a new hole drilled. The specimen shown in Figure 25c was initially a longer elliptical shaped gorget with three holes. When one end broke off, the break was ground down, smoothed, and then perforated once again. While the original symmetry of the gorget is lost, the major portion was salvaged and retained.

The specimen shown in Figure 25d well illustrates the use of lacing holes for the repair of a broken gorget. Five extra holes were drilled along the broken edge for lacing a thong to bind the fragments together. Since one of the original central perforations had to be used for the sixth lacing hole, two additional central perforations were made for symmetry and balance.

Stone gorgets found in Oklahoma are most frequent in Late Archaic and Caddoan occupations in both the Arkansas and Red river valley areas.

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