|Figure One - 3.5 inch long limace, surface found on private land in Yuma County, Colorado. John Branney Collection.|
The above scene is from my latest prehistoric adventure titled the CROW and the CAVE. If you read my other prehistoric adventure books, you might be asking, "What kind of precarious situation did I put the Folsom People in this time?" You will just have to read CROW and the CAVE to find out. I promise you there are plenty of precarious situations from front cover to back cover.
Figure Two - an ordinary garden slug,
or in France, a limace.
Now onto my main topic…A slug in France, as in an ordinary garden slug, is known as a limace. Most of us have spotted a slug or two in our gardens or crawling across our sidewalks (Figure two). They are pretty nasty-looking creatures.
What does this unattractive creature have to do with my books or archaeology? French archaeologists took their word for slug, limace, and described prehistoric stone tools that resembled the shape of a slug. Voila! The name stuck. A limace is a type of prehistoric blade tool, retouched by its knapper along both edges, creating a slug-shaped artifact. A rather large limace from my personal collection is photographed in figures one and three.
|Figure Three - Cross sectional view of the limace from figure one. Note the plano convex profile and retouch|
along the edges. John Branney Collection.
Limaces are plano convex in cross section. Plano convex means that an artifact has a flat underbelly (ventral side) and a humped back (dorsal side). Another word to use for this is unifacial. Limaces are oblong or teardrop-shaped. Because of their defined purpose (I write about this later), limaces started out bi-pointed with sharp ends. Some limaces had steeply angled faces due to unifacial retouch, much the same as the "bit" or working end of a plano convex end scraper. Based on analyses, there is a high probability that prehistoric tool makers hafted the majority of limaces into a rigid socketed handle of bone or wood. Providing evidence for hafting, investigators pointed to the deliberate abrasions on the basal edges of some limaces and the ‘trim to fit’ dimensions on the proximal end of some other specimens.
|Figure Four - 1.9 inch long limace surface found on|
private land in Logan County, Colorado. They don't
get much more slug-like than this one.
John Branney Collection.
Most investigators believe that prehistoric people utilized limaces as stone chisels for shaving and gouging hard materials such as wood, bone, and antler. Based on this harsh activity, it would not take long for the working end of a stone limace to look beat up and rounded. Limaces are a rare find and the destructive nature of their usage may be responsible for the rarity. It is tough to find a limace in excellent shape such as in figure one. I have probably surface recovered many broken and used up limaces, but not known what they were. I am sure prehistoric, conservation-minded people repurposed many broken and used up limaces into other tools, such as plano convex end scrapers.
In the literature, I have noticed other names for limaces or limace-like artifacts such as hump-backed scrapers, humpies, flakeshavers, awls, perforators, unifacial drills, slug-like scrapers, groover, slugs, bar, boats, Hendrix scrapers, and bipointed bars. This does not mean that every single specimen in the above artifact types was a limace, but that actual limaces might be mis-categorized in collections.
Michael Sampson studied limaces in the Tulare Lake Basin, between Bakersfield and Fresno, California. In his paper, Humpies, an Unusual Flaked-Stone Tool Type from the Tulare Lake Basin, he proposed that true limaces, or “humpies” as he called them, were diagnostic artifacts of Paleoindians, at least in the Tulare Lake Basin. He noted that investigators had found humpie-like
Figure Five - 4.9 inch long blade surface found on private land in central Wyoming. It could be a
rather large limace or maybe a "hump-backed" whale ;). John Branney Collection.
Based on current archaeological evidence, it appears that “true” limace tools were most likely associated with Paleoindians and large Folsom, Clovis, and fluted point assemblages.
Now, why don't you support this starving author and buy / read the SHADOWS on the TRAIL QUADRILOGY?