Axes

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Contents

Background

Ground-edge axes are stone chopping tools with cutting edges that were formed by grinding. They were often designed to have a handle. [1]

Stone axes were important tools for cutting wood, striping bark, felling saplings, cutting food gathering honey, and many other uses. A good stone axe had to be tough and shock resistant so that it did not shatter on impact. Mt William stone (Greenstone) was an ideal metamorphic rock, and was traded widely. Mt William stone could be ground to a razor sharp edge which set the Mt William people ahead in terms of skill and sophistication, and their monopoly of it gave then considerable bargaining power.

A good cutting edge on an axe was accomplished by grinding the blank on abrasive sandstone. Sometimes a slab of sandstone was taken to the campsite for this purpose, but more often the blanks were taken to beds of sandstone, preferably near water which was used to wash away residues left during the grinding process. Axe grinding grooves were worn into the sandstone beds and are protected at the Mt William site. (Mt William brochure)

Axe blanks were carried across great distances for trading. [2]

Making

'Axe blanks' were made by striking large flakes of stone from rocky outcrops, then roughly shaping them. The axes were often finished away from the quarry. The axe was finished by grinding a sharp cutting edge. This edge, while not as sharp as a chipped stone tool, was much more durable, and could be resharpened. Grinding was usually done on sandstone outcrops, often leaving deep grooves.[3]

Many axes come from a large greenstone quarry on Mount William near Lancefield. Axes from the Mt William quarry have been found up to 800 kilometres from Mount William, but not in the eastern half of Victoria. [4]

Innovations

Aboriginal ground-edge axes are usually rounded or oval in shape, but may vary be slightly elongated with a straighter, sharper end. [5]Many stone axes were uses as hand-held tools but often they were given a handle. The handle was made by splitting a pliable sapling, bending it around the axe-head and tieing it tightly with a plant-fibre string and a glue like substance made from gum or resin. (Mt William brochure)


Use

Axes were used by Aboriginal people to cut down small trees, chop wood, removed tree bark for canoes and shelter, butcher larger animals and many other tasks. They were also used as weapons, ceremonial objects and valuable trade items.[6]

Legacies

Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register

Aboriginal objects and heritage places are irreplaceable, non-renewable resources and can include traditional and spiritual sites of significance. The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register (VAHR) was established by the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 is an important administrative tool and holds the details of all known Aboriginal cultural heritage places and objects within Victoria, including their location and a detailed description. Places or objects are recorded by cultural heritage advisors on forms which are approved under the Act. The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register is not a publicly accessible register because it contains culturally sensitive information. Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) play a key role in the protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage. The Register holds information of each Registered Aboriginal party, their area of responsibility and contact details. [7]

The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 requires that the discovery of Aboriginal cultural heritage places or objects on any public or private land in Victoria be reported to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria - see http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/indigenous/aboriginal-cultural-heritage/information-for-landowners/reporting-a-possible-aboriginal-place-or-object

If you are the custodian of a Victorian Aboriginal object or place you are encouraged to document it on the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register by contacting Aboriginal Affairs Victoria to arrange to complete the form located at http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/35607/Victroian_Aboriginal_Heritage_Register_Form_Sept_2008.pdf.

How to care for and register Aboriginal objects and heritage places is further explained via an 11 minute video available at http://cv.vic.gov.au/stories/the-aboriginal-object-collection-at-dunkeld-museum/

See also

Indigenous Tools & Technology

Recommended Reading

References

  1. Introduction to Aboriginal Cultural Places and Objects, Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, 2008.
  2. Introduction to Aboriginal Cultural Places and Objects, Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, 2008.
  3. Introduction to Aboriginal Cultural Places and Objects, Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, 2008.
  4. Introduction to Aboriginal Cultural Places and Objects, Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, 2008.
  5. Introduction to Aboriginal Cultural Places and Objects, Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, 2008.
  6. Introduction to Aboriginal Cultural Places and Objects, Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, 2008.
  7. http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/indigenous/aboriginal-cultural-heritage/Victorian-aboriginal-heritage-register


Further Reading

Sibtain, Nancy (Ed) Aboriginal Australia, Australian Gallery Directors Council Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales.

External Links

http://sovereignhillhiddenhistories.com.au/video/Video3.mp4

http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/indigenous/aboriginal-cultural-heritage/aboriginal-heritage-act-2006

http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/indigenous/aboriginal-cultural-heritage/aboriginal-heritage-act-2006/guides-and-forms

http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/indigenous/aboriginal-heritage-council/registered-aboriginal-parties



--C.K.Gervasoni 15:49, 14 August 2012 (EST)

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