|Whether or not
these were ever actually used as tools, these bird-form stones
were fashioned to provide at least potential utility.
the image on both sides, and the contouring for a right-handed
assortment of bird-form picks and gouges from 33GU218.
from the overall morphology, a distinct eye in the anatomically
correct location is often present, either pecked or in raised
|Above left, a
simple bird-form implement from Day's Knob. Right, the
same form and size from the Topper
site in South Carolina, tentatively dated to about 50,000 years
comparison, a bird-form
tool from Hamburg-Wittenberg, Germany, putatively from 200,000 BP. These images are
quite common in European
by Prof. Walther Matthes)
from Germany, this beautiful flint piece is from the collection
of Ursel Benekendorff.
bird figures from Day's Knob, likely not tools other than the
one lower right (this one probably
only potentially; it seems that both utility and symbology were
just routinely incorporated into a carved stone).
Axes from Day's Knob - Length 24 cm (9.5") - (inverted with bit edge on
- Length 30 cm (11.8")
The fact that readily identifiable bird-form tools appear in many parts of
the world does little in itself to
indicate where North America's first inhabitants came from. It does
suggest, however, that aside from the long-standing significance of
bird forms everywhere, focusing exclusively on styles of flint points
and blades is missing a large part of the picture. (Incidentally, it seems
to be a notion peculiar to American archaeologists that earlier humans used
only flint or similar rock in their lithic tool making. When available in quantity,
flint certainly was the material of choice for heavy-duty cutting tools and
scrapers, and projectile points. But it clearly was not the only
material used for tools, and vast numbers of these and simple
symbolic/decorative objects of other rock have gone unnoticed because of
this bias built into classical archaeological training.)
The finely crafted
symbolic/decorative birdstones of the Archaic and Woodland
Periods in North
America are well known. Likely these are refined forms of the earlier bird forms shown above.
Below: Two common forms of this birdstone -
"saddleback" left -15 cm (6"), and
"popeyed" right - 7.5 cm (3").
|Below: Bird-form edged
and pointed tools of chert and other hard rock, of unusual
manufacture, found by Rick Doninger
at a location in central Tennessee,
the longest being about 10 cm (4").
Some of these are distinctly in the "saddleback" form,
suggesting that they might represent a stage in the transition
of the birdstone from a utilitarian to a purely symbolic object.
Their style seems more or less characteristic of the Late