Tool-use experiments to determine the function of an incised ground stone artefact with potential symbolic significance
Ground stone implements are found across most Australian landscapes and are often regarded as Aboriginal tools that were used for processing or modifying other items. Less common are ground stones modified for non-utilitarian, symbolic purposes (e.g., polished and carved stone ornaments; ritual implements such as cylcons and tjuringa sacred stones; and unused, well-crafted ground-stone axes). In this paper, we report on the function and potential significance of an unusual ground stone artefact from a site near Bannockburn, southwestern Victoria. A set of regularly spaced, shallow grooves has been cut into the surface of each side of the stone. Usewear, residues and experimental replica tools indicate that the grooves were probably made with a stone flake and then used to shape or sharpen wooden implements (e.g., spear points or the edges of boomerangs). We suggest that the Bannockburn artefact functioned as a woodworking tool. Nevertheless, the even spacing of the incisions suggests that they were intentionally placed, perhaps to convey meaning (e.g., as a tally system or other form of communication).
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