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Greenstone Axe

Greenstone axes or celts have been used in North America for more than 10,000 years, since the early Archaic period.  Basalts, Ryolite and Greenstone were used because of their hardness.  Numerous indigenous groups still living hunter/gatherer or agriculturalist lifestyles continue to use polished stone axes (or celts) in places like Papua New Guinea and the Amazon.  Stones are first flaked into a very rough shape through direct percussion techniques.  This process removes the bulk but is not incredibly effective due to the hardness of the stone.  The bulk of the work lies in the hours spent 'pecking' or hitting the axe with another hard cobble to slowly remove bits of rock, one little piece of dust at a time.  Once the axe takes shape through hammering, we grind the celt on a large flat piece of course sandstone.  All-in-all this should take a few days to a week of constant work--the celt in the lower picture took 16 years, from start to finish....entirely due to procrastination.  The celt in the upper picture took 35 minutes to chop down this 8" hickory tree






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