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The Function of the Edge-Ground Cobble Put to the Test: An Initial Assesment

Florida Museum of Natural History
Publication Date
  • Archaeology


Edge-ground cobbles constitute one of the most common artifact types found in pre-Arawak sites of the Antilles. Even though the importance of these artifacts as cultural markers has been widely recognized, the probable use(s) that they served have not been systematically addressed thus far in the Caribbean. As a result, an experiment was conducted in order to replicate the type of wear expressions that are commonly observed in this type of artifact, based primarily on the results of the starch grain analyses that have been conducted on similar tools recovered from Panama and Colombia, which have shown the presence of cultigens such as sweet potato, manioc, and maize, among others, in their faceted margins. After using cobbles with similar properties as those found archaeologically for processing each of these foodstuffs into an edible paste, I reached the conclusion that this type of activity could indeed result in the production of the marginal facet that characterizes edge-ground cobbles. This opened the door to argue for the possibility that some of these cultigens could have been introduced by the earliest immigrants to the islands prior to the Saladoid expansion, and thus to advocate for further studies on this regard.

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