Fort McCoy News Oct. 27, 2017

Fort McCoy ArtiFACT

Archaeology work has been ongoing at Fort McCoy for more than 30 years. One of the unique artifacts found in that process includes a sandstone abrader.

The artifact was recovered from one of the pre-contact archaeological sites at the installation.

Abraders are used for grinding, shaping, polishing, smoothing, and sharpening materials such as stone, bone, antler, and wood.
They are made of granular, coarse or rough-to-the-touch stones that serve well as abrasive materials. Sandstone is the most common material used to make an abrader. Abraders are typically identified by the appearance of abrasion marks or worn grooves.

Pictured is a pre-contact sandstone abrader, used by Native Americans hundreds of years ago, that was found at Fort McCoy.
Pictured is a pre-contact sandstone abrader,
used by Native Americans hundreds of years ago,
that was found at Fort McCoy.
Photo by Colorado
State University Center for Environmental
Management of Military Lands

One specific example of an abrader's function was to smooth the shaft of an arrow by placing the shaft between two pieces of sandstone, also known as bar abraders. This type of usage would be marked by a shallow U-shaped groove running lengthwise along the tool.

Another use of an abrader was to sharpen a stone tool, which would leave a V-shaped groove on the abrader. The grooves are usually shorter in length and display greater variation in width and depth. Abraders were also used to smooth and polish a celt (an axe or wood-working tool).

Visitors and employees are reminded they should not collect artifacts on Fort McCoy or other government lands and leave the digging to the professionals.

Anyone who excavates, removes, damages, or otherwise alters or defaces any historic or prehistoric site, artifact, or object of antiquity on Fort McCoy is in violation of federal law.

The discovery of any archaeological artifact should be reported to the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resource Branch at 608-388-4793.

   (Article prepared by the Colorado State University Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands and Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch.)