Antler wedge (a tool) found in
in the San Martin Mountains (present-day Val Verde area) in 1884.
In the collection of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Peabody Catalog No. 86-23-10/39267.
Antler (elk?) with braided fiber cord that has been impregnated with asphaltum as a bonding material. 4.5 inches long, 1-13/16 inches wide, 1 inch maximum height (the cordage).
Elsasser and Heizer (1963),
four antler specimens were found in Bowers Cave, and of those, this is the only one that was heavily worked. Elsasser and Heizer say one of the others
was "crudely chipped" and the remaining two were "simply antler tips, probably deer";they may have been used in chipping or flaking stone.
Elsasser and Heizer say the following about No. 39267:
The specimen ... had a certain amoung of care expended in its manufacture. The tapered long section and slightly rounded
end suggest a wedge. It is 11.5cm long and 33mm wide. A distinct polishing has taken place on about one-half its length
on one side and on about 15mm near the tip on the other side, which mostly shows cancellous type tissue. The proximal end of the
specimen has a square break which is not polished. At this end there is a wrapping (5 spirals) of Z-twist, 2-ply cordage
4.5mm thick. Oen end and a short length of the cordage have been covered by the spirals, and the other end terminates
toward the tip of the bone. The cordage is heavily impregnated with asphaltum which serves also to attach it to the bone. Probably the
cordage was used as a sort of handle, but whether or not this was the case, we must again point to a specimen rarely encountered
in a southern Californian archaeological context — what at least appears to be a hafted wedge.
Harrington (1942) notes the presence of deerhorn wedges
among the Chumash of the Central Coast, both northern and southern.
Citing Bowers (1885), Elsasser and Heizer say the antler tools
"were found during excavation of the infilling of the cave and are therefore probably not associated with the basket cache itself."
Indeed, Bowers (1885) suggests the antler tools were not part of what was intended to be hidden away in the cave; rather, they were
simply tools that were found on the floor beneath the baskets that contained the important objects. He writes:
In excavating the bottom of the cave we found considerable basket work as though it has been covered with this material. A wedge was found made of the base of a deer's antler, 4½ inches long by 1⅜ inches in diameter, wrapped securely at the larger end with some kinds of cord to prevent splitting when in use. Also a haliotis shell, Haliotis cracherodii, having the holes filled with a cord, and used, probably, for a drinking cup. A shell ornament and portions of deer's antlers, and a serpentine implement for smoothing and straightening the tules for their basket work, were also found.