Lewis and Kneberg (1995) classified as a hone any sharpening instrument a “made of an abrasive material that has no surface grooves or striations and are of such size and shape as to have been easily used in the hand.” The shapes of these objects are generally rectangular to ovoid with biplane faces and smoothly curved edges. One or more faces will show use wear in grinding surfaces.

Those hones recovered by Lewis and Kneberg in the Chickamauga Basin were principally associated with the Mouse Creek focus of the Late Mississippian period. Joffre Coe associated the first ground axes with the Yadkin focus in North Carolina. This would have necessitated the industry of pecking and grinding according to Coe, which would have required the use of a hone. Melvin Fowler and Howard Winters (1956) recovered an example of a pecked and ground axe at the Modoc Rock Shelter at the 10 to 21.5 foot zone, ranging in date between 3,225 and 6,219 B.C. The same pecking and grinding would have been required at that early date as well. Even without the recovery of a hone, it is evident that they have been in use for millennia, at least from the Stanley focus of North Carolina beginning as early as 7800 B.P. with work on Pick bannerstones until the Late Mississippian, Mouse Creek focus. The example on the right above is from the Heards Bridge site in Jefferson County, Georgia. The site was a work site for producing boiling stones. The hone, which has broad, curved surfaces worked into the sandstone and rounded grooves along the sides of the block for grinding the edges of the stone slabs.


As defined by T.M.N. Lewis and Madeline Kneberg (1995), the difference between an abrader and a hone is the presence of grooves, broad or narrow. The “Grooved Whetstone” as Lewis called it, was made from fine grained, buff-colored sandstone. The color may have been true for central Tennessee, but it has little to do with this tool elsewhere. Lewis further described it as having one or more grooves. Narrow grooves may be indicative of grinding the edge of a blade to prepare a platform for knapping while broader grooves like the one worn in the sherd of pottery above (center) may have been for smoothing or polishing bone. Antonio Waring (1977) regarded these ceramic sherds as abraders recovered at the Refuge site in Jasper County, South Carolina. Jerald Ledbetter (995) defined abraders as coarse-grained rocks with evidence of polishing over one or more faces or pronounced grooves. Ledbetter identified Coastal Plain sandstone as the material used for these tools just as Lewis had identified the fine grained, buff-colored sandstone of Tennessee.

Certainly one of the oldest recoveries of an abrader was at the Cactus Hill site in Sussex County, Virginia where Joseph McAvoy reported finding one at the Clovis layer. A second ancient find was at the Modoc Rock Shelter at the 10 to 21 foot level with a radiocarbon date of 7922 B.C. +/- 392 years. These simple tools have continued to find their way onto the archaeological record, but little mention was made of them. Richard S. MacNeish (Griffin 1952) mentioned and illustrated an abrader with many fairly parallel narrow cuts in it, referring to it as a “sinew stone” from an Owasco village and part of the Late Woodland period in New York. H. Trawick Ward listed ground stone artifacts from several historic sites including celts, manos and the like, but never once spoke of the tools used to grind them. T.M.N. Lewis and Madeline Kneberg (1995) mentioned them in passing at the Hiwassee Island site, remarking that they were “of no special significance.” William Sears (1951) mentioned finding three examples of what he called abraders from the Cox site (Ja176), block 2, in Jackson County, Alabama that appeared to have belonged to the Middle Woodland period. Two of the examples were reportedly made of “flint” and one of “chert,” but Webb gave no further explanation of the odd materials used or of their use.