PAGE 1
GRAVERS
ILLUSTRATED GRAVERS ARE FROM BOSTROM, MESA,
MARTENS, OLIVE BRANCH, PHIL STRATTON & SUGARLOAF SITES

NORTH AMERICA
PALEO-INDIAN, ARCHAIC, WOODLAND & MISSISSIPPIAN
EST. 14,000 BP TO EUROPEAN CONTACT
PAGE 1 OF 1 PAGE
COPYRIGHT JULY 31, 2008 PETER A. BOSTROM
Four gravers from the Bostrom Clovis site.
SINGLE SPURRED GRAVERS
CLOVIS CULTURE
BOSTROM
SITE
ST. CLAIR COUNTY, ILLINOIS
PRIVATE COLLECTION

   These four gravers were surface collected on the Bostrom Clovis site. They illustrate two different forms. One form is produced by pressure flaking two shallow notches that isolate a small graver point in the center. The other is formed by pressure flaking away one side or end of a flake to form one long delicate point.

Abstract image of gravers.

ABSTRACT
GRAVERS
ILLUSTRATED GRAVERS ARE FROM BOSTROM, MESA,
MARTENS, OLIVE BRANCH, PHIL STRATTON & SUGARLOAF SITES

NORTH AMERICA
PALEO-INDIAN, ARCHAIC, WOODLAND & MISSISSIPPIAN
EST. 14,000 YEARS AGO TO EUROPEAN CONTACT

    This article illustrates and describes several examples of gravers from six different Paleo-Indian and Archaic sites. Gravers are simple unifacial stone tools that have one or more small pointed projections that were used for cutting, engraving and perforating various types of organic materials.

    "Graver: Strictly speaking, a flake or blade with a small, sharp projection that has been created by unifacial retouch. The term is often loosely applied to a broad range of flake artifacts with spurs."---1990, Richard Michael Gramly, "Guide To The Paleo-Indian Artifacts Of North America," p. 26.
    "Gravers, another minority type, are specifically assigned to bone working, although they are too delicate to have performed major functions. Tests on fresh antler and bone show that, though they serve to incise small lines and grooves, they are easily worn down under extensive use."
---1985, George F. MacDonald, "Debert, A Paleo-Indian Site In Central Nova Scotia," p. 113.
      "---an "inferred Clovis lithic tool kit" would contain: (1) bifacial, fluted projectile points, (2) large bifaces used as tools and also as point preforms, (3) blades and blade cores, (4) cutting and scraping tools made on blades and flakes, (5) gravers, and (6) a variety of end-scrapers."---2002, Gary Haynes, "The Early Settlement Of North America, The Clovis Era," p. 111.
     "Perforators: These tools, also referred to in the literature as awls, gravers and drills, have a distinctive point or spur, usually formed through one or two converging concave edges."---1991, Ted Goebel, Roger Powers, and Nancy Bigelow, "The Nenana Complex Of Alaska And Clovis Origins," pp. 219-220.
     "Single and double-spurred gravers are relatively common components of the Dalton tool-kit - as they are of much older Paleo-American flaked stone assemblages. Spurs are usually sited at the narrow end of long flakes or at the corners of polygonal flakes"---2008, Richard Michael Gramly, "Return To Olive Branch: Excavations 2002-2005" p. 110.
 

Abtract image of gravers.
 
GRAVERS

ILLUSTRATED GRAVERS ARE FROM BOSTROM, MESA,
MARTENS, OLIVE BRANCH, PHIL STRATTON & SUGARLOAF SITES

NORTH AMERICA
PALEO-INDIAN, ARCHAIC, WOODLAND & MISSISSIPPIAN
EST. 14,000 YEARS AGO TO EUROPEAN CONTACT

   Gravers are simple unifacial stone tools. In one form or another they have been used by different cultures around the world for tens of thousands of years. In North America, gravers have been found on Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian sites. Paleo and Archaic sites have produced the highest percentages of gravers.

Two multi-spured gravers from Sugarloaf site in Maine.
MULTI-SPURRED GRAVERS
SUGARLOAF SITE
FRANKLIN COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS
CLOVIS CULTURE
PRIVATE COLLECTION

     These two multi-spurred gravers were found of the Sugarloaf Clovis site in Franklin County, Massachusetts. Most gravers only have one point or spur. A smaller percentage has two points. The lower example in this picture appears to have as many as five spurs.

     By definition, gravers are unifacial tools that are made on simple flakes. They were made from blades produced from prepared cores and from simple randomly produced percussion flakes. Flake preforms selected for graver manufacture display no obvious consistency. Most gravers were made by pressure flaking one side only.

Two gravers from Mesa site in Alaska.
SINGLE & MULTI-SPURRED GRAVERS
MESA SITE
NORTHERN ALASKA ARCTIC CIRCLE
PALEO-INDIAN HUNTING LOOKOUT
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

     Both of these gravers were discovered during the excavation of the mesa site in northern Alaska. They date to approximately 10,400 years ago. The multi-spurred graver on the right is very small. It measures 9/16 inch (1.4 cm) long. It appears to have three graver spurs that are located on two of the sides of the flake.

    The location of the working edge of a graver is referred to, in various reports, as bits, points, projections and spurs. These can be categorized in either one of two basic types. One type has acute, below 60 degrees, angled edges and the other has much steeper, above 60 degrees, angled edges. The steeper angle produces a more delicate working edge.

Graver from Martens Clovis site in St. louis Co., Illinois.
SINGLE SPURRED GRAVER
MARTENS SITE
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI
EARLY PALEO-INDIAN HABITATION SITE
PRIVATE COLLECTION

    This very delicate single spurred graver was found on the Martens Clovis site in St. Louis County, Missouri. The spur was formed by pressure flaking two notches close together which isolated a projection in the center. This tool would have been used to cut or perforate soft materials such as wet hide or fish.

    The edge angle of graver bits probably reflects functional differences. The more acutely angled points are sturdier and would stand up to heavier use. The more steeply angled points would have been used for more delicate jobs, such as piercing the eye of a needle.

Graver from Bostrom Clovis site in St. Clair Co., Illinois.
SINGLE SPURRED GRAVER
BOSTROM SITE
ST. CLAIR COUNTY, ILLINOIS
PALEO-INDIAN HABITATION SITE
PRIVATE COLLECTION

    This graver was found several years ago in St. Clair County, Illinois. It was found sometime in the late 1970's by either Bob or Pete Bostrom while surface collecting on the Bostrom Clovis camp site.

   This graver was made on a simple flake. The single point or spur was formed by pressure flaking two shallow notches along one edge. This graver is made of good quality Burlington chert. It measures 1 1/16 inches (2.6 cm) long, 13/16 inch (2.1 cm) wide and 3/16 inch (5 mm) thick.

 

    Use wear analysis of the working edges of gravers have shown they were used to cut, drill or perforate several different types of materials.  Tom Tomenchuk describes use wear evidence on several different graver points from the Fisher Paleo-Indian site in southern Ontario. He reports that gravers were used on various types of organic materials, such as: soft animal tissue like fish, hides, hard surfaces such as antler and seasoned wood, bone and softer woods. He also found evidence that some gravers were probably hafted and used as drills.

Graver from Phil Stratton site in Logan Co., Kentucky.
SINGLE SPURRED GRAVER
PHIL STRATTON SITE
LOGAN COUNTY, KENTUCKY
CUMBERLAND HABITATION SITE
PRIVATE COLLECTION

    This combination graver and side-scraper was found during the excavation of the Phil Stratton site in 2005. The bulb of percussion, where the blade was struck from the core, is still evident on the end even though it has been partially trimmed away by pressure flaking. This graver / side-scraper is made of St. Genevieve chert and it measures 2 1/4 inches (5.7 cm) long. 

By Michael Richard Gramly

    This finely crafted combination side-scraper and graver, made of St. Genevieve chert, was excavated from the Phil Stratton site in Logan County, southwestern Kentucky (Gramly 2005). The Phil Stratton site is a closed or single-component encampment of the Cumberland archaeological culture. Completed fluted projectile points, point preforms, a variety of scrapers and utilized flakes most made on prismatic blades are among the 200 flaked tools recovered to date (7-22-05).

    Edge wear analysis has shown that the tips of graver points can be polished or striated from use. The Bull Brook site produced striated examples that indicated the striae orientation direction of use along the same axis as the spur or point. Some gravers from the Fisher site are described as having been used in a twisting motion, "Intense rounding of all edges accompanies a bright polish along the edges of the ventral surface and along the right side of the dorsal ridge. Together with intensive microchip scarring of the right edge of the ventral surface, the wear pattern suggests that the tool was used with a dominant clockwise torque (Tomenchuk, 1997)."

15 gravers from Olive Branch Dalton site, southern Illinois.
SINGLE & DOUBLE SPURRED GRAVERS
OLIVE BRANCH SITE
ALEXANDER COUNTY, ILLINOIS
EARLY ARCHAIC DALTON HABITATION SITE
PRIVATE COLLECTION

    These fifteen single and double spurred end scrappers were discovered during the excavation of the Olive Branch site in southern Illinois. These gravers were made and used by Early Archaic Dalton people approximately 11,000 years ago. About half of them have two spurs or points. Most, but not all of the spurs are located on the ends of the flakes. Some have spurs on a side of the flake. Two of the cherts are identified as Kaolin and Cobden/Dongola.  The Kaolin graver to the right in the second row measures 4.8 cm long.

    Most gravers have one working edge in the form of a single spur or bit. A smaller number of gravers are double spurred and have two cutting or drilling points. There are also multi-spurred gravers with three or more points or bits. One example from the Bull Brook Paleo-Indian site in Massachusetts is reported to have five points. Another example from the Sugarloaf site, illustrated in this report, also has five points or spurs.
    Gravers are one of the simplest forms of stone tools. They most certainly evolved long ago from a sharp corner of an unmodified flake. Gravers may even have been reinvented through time in different regions of the world as humans evolved into more advanced cultures. After all the analysis and descriptions are said and done they are most impressive for their simplicity and versatility.

"REFERENCES"

1984, Grimes, John R., Eldridge, William, Grimes, Beth G., Vaccaro, Antonio, Vaccaro, Frank, Vaccaro, Joseph, Vaccaro, Nicolas, Orsini, Antonio, "Bull Brook II," Archaeology Of Eastern North America, p. 165.
1985,
MacDonald, George F., "Debert, A Paleo-Indian Site In Central Nova Scotia," p. 113.

1990, Gramly, Richard Michael, "Guide To The Paleo-Indian Artifacts Of North America," p. 26.
1991, Goebel, Ted, Powers, Roger, and Bigelow, Nancy, "The Nenana Complex Of Alaska And Clovis Origins," pp. 219-220.
1996, Lewis, Barry, "Kentucky Archaeology," Mississippian Farmers, p.129.
1997, Storck, Peter L., "The Fisher Site, Archaeological, Geological and Paleobotanical Studies At An Early Paleo-Indian Site In Southern Ontario, Canada," p. 83.

2002, Haynes, Gary, "The Early Settlement Of North America, The Clovis Era," p. 111.
2008, Gramly, Richard Michael, "Return To Olive Branch: Excavations 2002-2005" p. 110.

RECENT LISTINGS    HOME    ORDERING