Help with old stone mortar and pestle

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  • #1
turbo
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Main Question or Discussion Point

My wife's friend has an old porous volcanic rock mortar with what appears to be a basalt pestle. They were recovered from a cave in California in the 1920s by a relative who was prospecting for gold. According to the family history, he managed to spirit these objects out, but authorities confiscated the other objects that were in the cave.

The mortar is 10-1/2" high by 7" diameter. The pestle is 9-1/2" in length.

MP.jpg


According to her father (now deceased), the items were on loan to the Smithsonian for 4-5 years, which sounds a bit odd, but she insists that it corresponds to a time when the objects were no longer around the house. Who knows?

Anyway, I have found a pointed-base mortar that is made of similar material. It's 2/3 of the way down the page.

http://www.westernartifacts.com/tools.htm

Anyway, does anybody here have an idea how old these items are?
 

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  • #2
Evo
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A bit similar, but half the size.

http://americanindiancollectibles.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/american_indian_collectible_-58201705624269070.jpg [Broken]
 
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  • #3
turbo
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My wife's friend asked her father how old it was when he gave it to her and he said "could be 500 years, could be 5000 years" so apparently if he did loan it to a museum of anthropology, the curators were not much help in dating it.
 
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Interesting turbo - keep us posted.
 
  • #5
Evo
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The shape of the pestle is a modern design, older pestles didn't have the tapering we see here. But the mortar could be old, the uneveness around the top has been described in very old mortars.
 
  • #6
baywax
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My wife's friend has an old porous volcanic rock mortar with what appears to be a basalt pestle. They were recovered from a cave in California in the 1920s by a relative who was prospecting for gold. According to the family history, he managed to spirit these objects out, but authorities confiscated the other objects that were in the cave.

The mortar is 10-1/2" high by 7" diameter. The pestle is 9-1/2" in length.

MP.jpg


According to her father (now deceased), the items were on loan to the Smithsonian for 4-5 years, which sounds a bit odd, but she insists that it corresponds to a time when the objects were no longer around the house. Who knows?

Anyway, I have found a pointed-base mortar that is made of similar material. It's 2/3 of the way down the page.

http://www.westernartifacts.com/tools.htm

Anyway, does anybody here have an idea how old these items are?
Hello Turbo...

I've excavated items like these in settlements that go back as far as 6000 years along the Fraser River here in British Columbia. There has never been a mortar that high in my recollection. Its a beautiful sample. Also, the dates in your area may be different since you are in a rich region that can date as far back as 17,000 or more years because of the Clovis period and artifacts that match the European flint knapping.

Beautiful stuff!

Here's some text on the NW Firstnation tool building activity. Its got an American slant to it but has some mention of the British Columbian stone artifacts.

http://www.jstor.org/pss/278079

All mention of mortar and pestles from excavations throughout the world put them at between 10,000 and 6,000 BC
 
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