University of Virginia Library

I. Implements

A. Awls.—(See Plates 12 and 13.)—Awls are clearly the
predominant class of bone objects from Bc 51. Awls may be considered
as a rather general category of pointed implements, and there
will be no attempt to distinguish between awls and punches. It may
be added that almost all the implements have the tapering point, which
characterizes an awl, rather than the rounded blunt point, which
characterizes a punch.[343] Kidder,[344] Hodge[345] and others have speculated
about the probable uses of various types of awls in basket making,
skin piercing and similar operations. These possibilities probably
hold for the Chaco, except that none of the awls from Bc 51 display
edges worn in notches from use in weaving.[346]

According to the particular bone from which they are made,[347] the
awls tend to fall into the following four categories:

  • 1. Deer, antelope and elk leg bone

  • [133

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  • 2. Deer and elk rib

  • 3. Rabbit leg bone

  • 4. Bird leg bone

1. Deer and Antelope Leg Bones

a. Head of bone intact.—This class made from bones of large
animals does not occur at all in Bc 51 although several examples were
found in Bc 50.

b. Head unworked except for original splitting.—There are five
implements of this class, three of which are made from split sections
of the proximal end of a deer metapodial which provides flattened
head to the implements. The head of one specimen (45) reveals
exceptional wear. The three examples are otherwise very similar:
strong, heavy implements with rounded-off edges and fairly sharp
points. Lengths vary from 3″ to 3¾″, the largest one (11) is 1¼″
wide at the head and the smallest one (45) 10/16″ wide at the head.
There are two examples of the distal end split but unworked, a type
which is very common in other sections of the Southwest.[348] Several
implements from Shabik'eshchee Village are made from this portion of
mammal bone but most of them seem worked down.[349]

c. Head partly worked down.—Only three examples of this class
are definitely awls. A handle fragment has been found which may
properly be included. Two of the examples are of unsplit heads,
one of a metapodial (17), and the other of a tibia (47). The metapodial
lacks an epiphysis and has been so eroded that it is hard to
tell how much was worked originally. It has a sharp point and is
3¼″ long. The end of the tibia is rounded and a shallow groove
has been cut almost encircling the neck of the bone. It is a bit
shorter than the metapodial, and the point is broken off. It looks
much like one of Hodge's[350] or Robert's[351] "constantly refashioned awls."
Judging from the wear on the bone it might have been used again and

The third awl (52) is fashioned from the back of a tibia with
evidence of the swelling of the neck but with little of the epiphysis
remaining. It is well pointed and has nicely worked edges for about
half its length. The appearance is that of a very strong, usable

The fourth artifact (88) was probably an awl, fashioned from
a split metapodial. The butt end has been considerably worked down
and there is a perforation in the neck 1″ from the end. Hodge[352] and
others suggest that this sort of perforation might afford attachment


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for a thong. This implement is one of the three from Bc 51 which
is made from the split distal end of an antelope metapodial. The
fragment is 2¾″ long.

d. Head wholly removed.—As at Pecos, this is the largest class
of awls, thirteen specimens in all. In every class all traces of the
head have been removed and only the shaft is left. This makes
identification difficult and in many cases impossible. Three specimens
were identified as deer tibial fragments, and a few more as probably
antelope metapodials but the rest were devoid of clues. Five implements
of this class (43,82,99,100,117) are quite similar, varying in
length from 3¼″ to 4¾″ and a little more than ½″ wide. They are
relatively flat with rounded edges but still show the slight natural
concavity of the inside of the bone from which the awls were made.
The pierced handle of one (99) 3¾″ long may have afforded attachment
for a thong as suggested above. It also appears similar to one
figured by Morris[353] and termed a needle-like implement. The perforated
awl and one other (99 and 43) exhibit the polish which seems
to come from long use.

Two more awls (61 and 77) are cracked so that only the points
remain. The tips are broken off. One is made from a heavy tibial
fragment (29). Two more are light, finely worked awls (65 and 71),
showing a suggestion of the surface concavity of the bone. The
unbroken one is almost 4½″ long and has a sharp point. The point
of the other is broken off. Both have flattened heads comparable with
Hodge's[354] or Kidder's[355] spatulate awls.

One awl handle (104), made from the back of a tibia with a
splintered edge, is very flat and spatulate. The specimen resembles
some of the Pecos awl spatulas[356] but is perhaps not as carefully
worked. It also looks similar to Robert's spatulate awl from Shabik'eshchee

Another peculiar implement (126), made from the base of the
ulna of an elk, seems to fit into this class. It measures 1″ by 4″ and
appears to be strong and smoothly worked.

e. Splinter.—These are implements made from bone splinters.
Only the point has been ground down and smoothed. The largest
one of these (33) is 5¼″ long and is made from a deer tibia. The
point is not very sharp, but it has been broken. Another from an
antelope femur (70), 3½″ long, has an excellent point. Two awls
are made from thin antelope fragments (40 and 101).

All the awls of this class have a rough angular appearance. In


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spite of apparent crudity they show no evidence of having been found
predominantly in earlier levels but seem to occur in the refuse fill of
Kiva 3, the section between Kivas 2 and 3 and in room 16. In other
words—so far as the limited evidence goes—they occurred predominantly
in refuse or intentional fill.

f. Awls worked on whole surface.—This is not one of Kidder's
classes but one which is original in this report. However, it is roughly
the same idea as Hodge's smoothly finished awls.[358] The difference
between these awls and those of class d which have heads wholly
removed is that the concave inside surface of the bone is no longer
visible but has been completely worked down. The points are missing
in three cases (58, 95, 96). They have been broken and repointed in
two cases (66, 102) giving a blunted appearance. Four of these five
implements exhibit roughly rectangular handles (58,66,96,102) like
the Pecos four-sided implements.[359] There are two small implements
which are perfect. One (10) is a finely worked awl, 3 3/16″ wide and
3⅝″ long. It has a needle-like point. The shaft of the implement is
roughly rectangular. The butt end is slightly tapered—a specimen of
excellent workmanship. The other (49) is round, needle-like, and
2½″ long with a groove around the neck. The point is not as sharp
as that of the bodkin.

g. Unclassifiable broken tips.—There are seven of these in various
stages of bluntness and fineness. One (79) is extremely fine.
Two (53,80) are resharpened and two (27,63) are broken. All are
so small and fragmentary that they cannot be identified or properly

2. Deer and Elk Ribs

a. Face of rib—worked type.—There is one implement (105)
about 2½″ long duplicating Pecos types.[360] Some of the cancellous
bone is left in place presumably to strengthen the implement or
perhaps to provide a more comfortable grip. The tip of the point
has been broken off but it must have been fine and sharp. The width
is ⅜″. Another awl (98), about 5″ long tapers from the inch-wide
handle to a dulled point. The bone is extremely fragile. A tentative
identification designates the material elk rib. This implement is
similar to one from Shabik'eshchee.[361] None of the splinter type or
edge of rib type awls found at Pecos[362] were found at Bc 51.

3. Rabbit Leg Bone.—The jack rabbit tibia is the most popular
rabbit bone for awls. Six examples were found, the seventh (26)
being a radius. The method of manufacture seems to have included


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splintering the main section of the bone, and then pointing the end
by grinding. Two awls were made from small splinters of bones. Of
these the smaller (118) is finely pointed. Only half the collection
exhibits a lustrous surface. In general rabbit bone awls were not
the most popular. In length they are 2½″ to 3¾″, averaging about 3″.
The points of two or three have been snapped off. Only two, the implement
from the radius (26) and one of those made from a splinter
(118), exhibit extremely fine sharp points. In one case, in which the
whole bone has been used (but with epiphysis removed) (122), the
bone has been cracked transversely, leaving a jagged edge.

4. Bird Leg Bone.—As Kidder points out[363] the leg and wing
bones of birds can be worked to extremely sharp points but are
extremely brittle. Of the eight bird bone implements found in Bc 51,
four could be identified as golden eagle.

a. Whole bone.—This class consists of whole bones, with or
without heads, which have been tapered and pointed. One (94) of the 6
examples of this class has been broken off so that hardly more than a
point is left. Another (103) looks as if the head had been chewed off.
Three (22, 25, 59) have fine points unbroken and look considerably
used. Lengths vary from 2¼″ and 3½″.

b. Splinter.—There are two very roughly formed, exhibiting few
signs of use or wear. The lengths are 1½″ and 2¼″.

B. Chisels.—Four implements might be termed chisels. In the
terminology of Hodge,[364] punches are an intermediate class between
awls and chisels. That intermediate class has been omitted from this

1. Beveled Only on One Edge.—There are two implements which
come into this group, one (41) of a rib of some mammal, the other
(30) of some deer fragment. The latter is about 3¼″ long by 9/16″
wide at the handle, tapering to a shaft about ¼″ wide. The cancellous
tissue is exposed through the middle portion of the implement. The
point is blunted and considerably worn down. This implement looks
somewhat like one of those illustrated by Hodge which he calls a bone
chisel.[365] It is also very much like Kidder's implements, which he calls
flakers, designating them as tools "probably employed in the fabrication
of chipped implements. Most of them seem originally to have
been awls, put to secondary use for stone-working after their points
had become dulled or been broken. The rounded, often battered tips
are characteristic."[366]


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The tip of this implement seems to show the same sort of wear. At the
same time it shows a tendency toward having one beveled edge so it
falls in this category of chisels. It is so shaped that it might possibly
have been used as an awl at one time.

The second example of this class (41), a split rib, ¾″ wide and
more than 5″ long, is another problem. The cancellous bone is exposed
and left in place along the whole of one flat side. The bone itself was
much affected by weathering and is in poor condition. The handle
end seems to be broken off and the chisel end is only about half there,
but one is led to believe that it is a chisel by the general tapering
towards an edge which must have been about ½″ across.

2. Beveled from Two Sides.—One (74) is 2¾″ long, 13/16″ wide
at the butt end, tapering to ½″ wide at the cutting edge and displays
excellent workmanship. The butt end is unfinished and rough but
not broken. The cutting end is smoothly beveled. At its thickest point
the implement is 5/16″ thick. No implement of this sort was found
in Bc 50.

The second chisel (97) is made from a mule deer humerus still
showing the curve of the shaft of the bone with only the end worked
down. The length is 4″, width ¾″ at butt end, and ½″ at cutting edge.
The edge is fragmentary but shows the beveling from both sides, being
considerably more marked on the inside curve of the bone.

C. Fleshers or Scrapers.—Four of deer humerus were found,
only one of which (55) was complete. This measured 6½″ long, with
a blade 1¼″ at the widest point and the head of the bone partly worked
down. One tiny scraper made from a deer phalanx was also present.
The humerus fleshers all have rounded edges and exhibit none of the
serrations found at Pecos.[367] The little phalanx scraper (69) is 2″
long and exhibits a good deal of working in the head region, giving
the impression of flattened sides. It is remarkable that all of the big
scrapers have tended to break off at the same point an inch or so down
the neck, which seems the weak point in that type of implement.

At Pecos, Kidder[368] found that scrapers of the metatarsus type
with ankle bones for a handle predominated with but one single doubtful
specimen of an end scraper from a humerus. Kidder states:[369] "That
bone can be, and by certain peoples of the San Juan drainage commonly
was, fashioned into a serviceable tool."

This type was also found in large numbers by Morris, at Aztec, and
one was inlaid.[370] At Pueblo Bonito[371] were found a good many scrapers


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of this type inlaid with turquoise and, doubtless, of ceremonial importance.
The distribution of this type of implement seems to be more a
question of culture area than of period, although this humerus type
may be the earlier.

D. Miscellaneous Bones—Worked But Not Identifiable as Implements.—There
are three fragments of long bones showing evidence
of having been worked and one unfinished ring. One of the
long bones (31) and the bone ring (38) show the method
of cutting a bone most of the way through, probably with a flint knife,
and then breaking.[372] The section of long bone was not broken off,
but the bone ring shows unworked edges subsequent to the break.
A 3″ section of an antelope metapodial (31) shows a diagonal cut
across one end which looks as if it might illustrate the first stage of
working down an awl. The third long bone section (32), broken at
one end and showing a slight outward curve toward the epiphysis on
the other, shows no evidence of human workmanship other than the
regular splitting, presumably, for marrow. The bone ring (38) is
unsmoothed on one edge but the other edge is quite rounded. This ring
may have been cut from an old implement to prepare a new surface.
At least, the rounded surface does not resemble an epiphysis, even an
immature one. Although only ¾ of the contour of the bone is
present it is enough to suggest that it came from a long bone, probably
the tibia of a pronghorn antelope. This sort of unfinished ring
is not an unusual discovery in the Southwest.

E. Worked Human Femur.—The 4″ section of human femur
(13) appears to be the blank for an intended implement which was
never finished. One end is broken off, the other gouge shaped. The
locus was near the surface west of room 1.

Worked human bones are not very common in the Southwest.
There was only one possibility at Pecos,[373] a part of a broken object,
presumably a disk of skull, possibly human.


Kidder, 1932, p. 203.


Ibid, p. 208.


Hodge, 1920, pp. 97-99.


Ibid, Plate XVII; Kidder, 1932, Fig. 190.


My thanks are due Dr. Glover M. Allen, of the Museum of Comparative
Zoology at Harvard University, for identifying bone material.


Kidder, 1932, p. 204, Fig. 171.


Roberts, 1929, Pl. 20.


Hodge, 1920, p. 82.


Roberts, 1929, p. 127.


Hodge, 1920, p. 93.


Morris, 1919a, p. 39 and Fig. 23a.


Hodge, 1920, Pls. XIV and XV.


Kidder, 1932, Fig. 187.


Ibid, p. 222.


Roberts, 1929, Pl. 22 g.


Hodge, 1920, p. 86.


Kidder, 1932, p. 225.


Ibid. p. 217.


Roberts, 1929, Pl. 25 and p. 131.


Kidder, 1932, p. 217.


Ibid., p. 217.


Hodge, 1920, p. 106.


Ibid., Pl. XXIII.


Kidder, 1932, Fig. 191 g, p. 228.


Ibid., p. 233.


Ibid., p. 233.


Ibid., p. 235.


Morris, 1919a, p. 36.


Pepper, 1920, p. 378.


Kidder, 1932, p. 200.


Ibid., p. 270. See also Reiter, 1938, Pl. XXIIa, object 1, and p. 85, for a
flesher made from a human adult femur and found with a burial at Amoxiumqua. In
the collections of the Museum of New Mexico are a pair of artifacts fashioned from
the paired femora of a human child. Their provenience has not, at present, been
definitely established. Roberts, 1929, p. 144, mentions bone tubes made from human