Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bone Awls

Bone awls are a common find at archaeological sites, as they were used throughout all prehistoric periods. (I was surprised how many I could find, that I had made, within a couple minutes.) Basically, they were a leg or rib bone, split down and sharpened to a fine point. They were utilized to punch holes in animal hides to sew or lace for garments or shelter coverings. Also, they were helpful in making coil basketry and matting. To make an awl, a leg or rib bone is grooved with a stone graver (flake with a sharp 'nipple' on it) and split. It is important to establish a good groove to control the break as bone tends to spiral around as it breaks otherwise. The edges are ground on an abrasive stone and a sharp point formed. Often, found awls are highly polished from use on hides and baskets.