Granite grooves: a study on granitic grinding grooves in North East Victoria

Author: Rose Overberg

Overberg, Rose, 2020 Granite grooves: a study on granitic grinding grooves in North East Victoria, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Grinding grooves are grooves on rock outcrops which result from the sharpening of stone tools or grinding of ochre, seeds or other resources. Previous research has shown that many of these grinding grooves correlate to the sharpening of ground-edge axes. Ground-edge axes are a stone artefact type that has been identified throughout the world and have been dated to a maximum of between 44,000 and 49,000 years of age in northern Australia. Ground-edge axes were commonly made from an extremely hard volcanic rock which was ground, along an edge, to create a smooth, sharp axe head which could be hafted to a wooden handle.

Grinding grooves are usually located on a rock outcrop near water, which provided essential lubrication for the grinding process and the grinding grooves that result from the sharpening of ground-edge axes are usually narrow, relatively short and deeper in the middle section than at either end.

This thesis explores the potential of grinding groove sites to provide information about trade and exchange patterns, social interaction and language development, and identifies local variations in stone tool technology across north eastern Victoria. Grinding grooves present tangible, unmoveable evidence that certain types of tools were manufactured in an area. From an analysis of the dimensions of a groove we can make conclusions regarding the size and shape of the blank which initially created the groove. Grinding grooves of particular dimensions can therefore act as a proxy for actual ground-edge axes and can inform theories of trade and exchange throughout Victoria.

The time required to form grinding grooves, indicates a period of use and most likely habitation of particular area. Frequently grinding grooves are found in clusters, this may provide information on social practices around tool manufacture and sharpening. We can postulate that grinding was done in company, that skills were passed on, stories were shared and language refined during these activities. The variety of groove shapes and sizes at a location may provide information about other activities nearby such as food preparation or ceremonial activities.

The size and shape of a grinding groove will also be affected by the nature of the geology on which it is made and the nature of the blank being used. This thesis investigates the variations inherent as a result of geology and the implications of these variations for site selection.

Keywords: Grinding groove, Axe, ground-edge axe, granite

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2020
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Alice Gorman