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Agency

Journal of Northeast Texas Archaeology

DOI

https://doi.org/10.21112/.ita.2012.1.23

Abstract

Hematite (Fe2O3) is a mineral, its most important usage being iron ore. In the United States, hematite occurs over a large region with a major concentration in the central part of the country. Hematite has varying degrees of hardness and colors. Hematite gives rocks their red color and characteristic “red-streak.” Soft, earthy (red ocher) forms were prized as paints. Hard, compact forms with considerable iron content were valued as tools, because of their strength as well as susceptibility to a high and beautiful polish. Certain forms of hematite are used in making jewelry. During prehistoric times, hematite was fashioned and used in a wide variety of forms including celts, axes, pendants, plummets, pestles, discoidals, cup stones (nutting stones), manos, and cones. The high degree of workmanship on some of these tools, and the absence of use-damage, suggest that some of them may have had uses that were other than merely functional.

This study concerns a hematite cone that was found in eastern Smith County, Texas along Prairie Creek (41SM449). I also discuss a possible unfinished hematite cone found at the Brieger Point site (41CP42) at Lake Bob Sandlin. Prehistoric hematite objects are not uncommon in East Texas, the most common forms being grooved axes, celts, nutting stones, and manos. More uncommon are objects such as pendants and plummets. The hematite cone from the Prairie Creek site and the possible hematite cone from the Lake Bob Sandlin area are the only examples of hematite cones that I am aware of from the East Texas area. Hematite cones are more plentiful in the Ohio valley. Their function is unknown, although it has been surmised that they may have been gaming pieces or talismans.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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